Down On The Farm: June – Olivera, Schebler, Cotton, Mieses, Verdugo, Medina

The Dodgers had a lot going on in June, with three short-season leagues starting, draft signees being added to rosters, and a bunch of promotions/demotions.

Hector Olivera missed a few weeks with a hamstring strain after being promoted to AAA, Jharel Cotton was promoted to AA, Jacob Scavuzzo moved up to A+, Johan Mieses made the quick move up to A+, Ross Stripling is back in action after Tommy John surgery at AA, Erisbel Arruebarrena has made his return in A+ after his suspension, and Zach Lee missed weeks with circulation problems in his fingers.

Also, if you missed it earlier, a great article about how the Dodgers evaluate their prospects.

Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA)

Hitters

Corey Seager – SS – 21 – 110 PA, .278/.345/.454/.799, 11 XBH, 3 HR, 11 BB, 11 K (Month) – 313 PA, .314/.361/.516/.877, 34 XBH, 11 HR, 22 BB, 42 K (YTD)

Seager isn’t setting the world on fire at AAA, but he’s getting better and better despite his “meh” line. Now he’s adjusting to pitchers trying to take advantage of his aggressiveness and is walking more while still not swinging and missing.

I suppose the Dodgers would like to see him set the world on fire in AAA for a while before a call, but skills-wise, he seems to be about ready.

Hector Olivera – 2B – 30 – 56 PA, .358/.393/.528/.921, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 3 BB, 8 K (Month) – 56 PA, .358/.393/.528/.921, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 3 BB, 8 K (YTD)

Started at AA but was quickly promoted to AAA after a week, Olivera’s offensive skills seem to be living up to the hopes of the Dodgers when they inked him.

For me, the biggest question is how he fits in a crowded Dodgers infield when both of the positions he plays (second and third) are occupied by quality starters. Even looking forward, the question becomes whether or not he can handle second base with Howie Kendrick due to hit free agency. Lots to be answered, but he’s not leaving a ton of doubt over the bat yet.

Austin Barnes – C – 25 – 93 PA, .309/.370/.481/.851, 9 XBH, 2 HR, 9 BB, 9 K, 2/0 SB/CS (Month) – 214 PA, .299/.380/.451/.831, 17 XBH, 5 HR, 23 BB, 23 K, 7/0 SB/CS (YTD)

A.J. Ellis has come around of late, making the chances Barnes features in an important role on the 2015 Dodgers (barring injury) go from slim to none, but writing him off as having minimal value as some columnists have done is foolish.

A high-contact, high-discipline catcher with some pop and positional versatility to boot has a lot of value to a club, especially from a position where one foul ball could mean the DL. Barnes is throwing out 34% of base stealers this year, which is solid, and his receiving is also surprisingly quality.

Darnell Sweeney – 2B – 24 – 120 PA, .336/.370/.491/.861, 11 XBH, 3 HR, 7 BB, 28 K, 6/4 SB/CS (Month) – 321 PA, .284/.341/.419/.759, 27 XBH, 5 HR, 25 BB, 79 K, 25/10 SB/CS (YTD)

I’ve been relatively harsh on Sweeney this year, but that’s because his value is essentially bat-only, and he wasn’t hitting. Fortunately, he’s started to get it going of late, but even that comes with the caveat that his BABIP for the month was .420. Still a legit concern that he’s striking out 25% of the time and the plate discipline from last year hasn’t followed.

Scott Schebler – OF – 24 – 98 PA, .322/.388/.586/.974, 12 XBH, 3 HR, 7 BB, 16 K, 5/0 SB/CS (Month) – 272 PA, .249/.331/.452/.783, 25 XBH, 9 HR, 24 BB, 52 K, 10/1 SB/CS (YTD)

Schebler is another bat-first prospect that hadn’t gotten it going at all early in the season, thanks in large part to a lot of poor batted ball luck, but also a surprising lack of pop. He’s turned that around in June, as both his power and luck has turned, and with it his production has come back.

Profile is still the same, for better or worse, and I wonder if he would generate any trade interest from other teams. Most surprising part about this year for Schebler is his base stealing.

Pitchers

Zach Lee – SP – 23 – N/A (Month) – 2.38 ERA, 56.2 IP, 50 H, 4 HR, 12 BB, 44 K (YTD)

Lee didn’t do anything … because he couldn’t feel his fingers for a month, or at least he couldn’t feel his middle finger.

Joe Wieland – SP – 25 – 5.68 ERA, 19.0 IP, 27 H, 3 BB, 20 K (Month) – 5.98 ERA, 61.2 IP, 77 H, 15 BB, 57 K (YTD)

At some point the hittability is a concern, but Wieland didn’t have this issue at AAA last year and his peripherals only continue to get better. Maybe I need an extended look at his outings to be sure, but I still find it hard to be overly concerned at this point.

Tulsa Drillers (AA)

Hitters

Kyle Farmer – C – 24 – 95 PA, .311/.347/.467/.814, 12 XBH, 1 HR, 2 BB, 16 K (Month) – 249 PA, .330/.382/.502/.884, 29 XBH, 2 HR, 13 BB, 35 K (YTD)

Farmer has been up and down between A+ and AA twice this year, but he’s killed high-A pitching to the tune of a .911 OPS and deserves to prove himself against advanced pitching. He’s struggled a bit more in AA so far, chasing more frequently and showing less contact. In the end, his development with the bat will determine whether he can make it as a backup catcher type in the MLB, because the work behind the plate should play.

Yadir Drake – OF – 25 – 88 PA, .303/.352/.408/.760, 7 XBH, 0 HR, 8 BB, 10 K (Month) – 250 PA, .309/.372/.418/.790, 19 XBH, 2 HR, 24 BB, 28 K (YTD)

I’m tempted to drop him from this list because he’s 25, stuck in a corner spot, and his insane production has all but stalled. But the profile is still curious enough for me to follow along for a bit.

Pitchers

Julio Urias – SP – 18 – N/A (Month) – 3.00 ERA, 36.0 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 46 K (YTD)

Urias has just started to make a comeback from eye surgery, and the thing to watch now is how the Dodgers handle him, because everything sure seems to be setup for a September call and a potential playoff bullpen role.

Jose De Leon – SP – 22 – 4.00 ERA, 27.0 IP, 22 H, 13 BB, 30 K (Month) – 2.67 ERA, 77.2 IP, 54 H, 25 BB, 107 K (YTD)

A part of me is actually glad that De Leon is facing adversity now against advanced competition and is forced to adjust, but is simultaneously still proving that his stuff is quality enough to miss bats anywhere. Besides, the culprit for the ERA is really just one disaster start, as he turned in quality outings in his other four starts in the month.

For better or worse, it does seem more and more likely that he’ll end up being dealt at the deadline in some capacity for rotation help.

Chris Anderson – SP – 22 – 3.41 ERA, 29.0 IP, 28 H, 16 BB, 23 K (Month) – 3.52 ERA, 79.1 IP, 71 H, 40 BB, 66 K (YTD)

Easy to forget, but Anderson and De Leon are the same age, and Anderson actually has been better results-wise at AA so far, but I’m still slightly discouraged. Simply put, the control hasn’t come around like I had hoped, and the lack of fine command against advanced bats means more hitters are able to make contact off him as well.

The upside is still there and I don’t see anything changed in that regard, but at some point you’d like to see signs of refinement coming.

Jharel Cotton – SP – 23 – 1.48 ERA, 30.1 IP, 23 H, 10 BB, 32 K (Month) – 1.86 ERA, 38.2 IP, 31 H, 11 BB, 45 K (YTD)

I feel like I haven’t paid enough attention to Cotton, and that’s on me because Dustin has been all over him for a while now (heh). To be fair, he did miss six weeks of the season, but I probably should’ve mentioned his existence previously.

Anyway, he’s now moved from low-A to high-A to AA this year, and he has continued the roll he got on last year after his velocity moved a tick or three upwards. Cotton now sits in the 93-94 mph with his fastball, and features both a curve and a change, with the change being the better pitch but neither flashing more than above-average.

Cotton is doing wonderful as a starter so far, but I have to wonder if he wouldn’t profile better as a future reliever due to his fastball likely playing up in short bursts, his lack of a plus off-speed pitch, and his propensity for control over command. We’ll see, but for now, he’s doing everything he should be.

Ross Stripling – SP – 25 – 2.77 ERA, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 6 BB, 10 K (Month) – 2.77 ERA, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 6 BB, 10 K (YTD)

Stripling is finally back after having Tommy John surgery in 2013, and it was unfortunate timing when the injury occurred because Stripling was rolling through the minors at that point and seemed poised for AAA in 2014 and then the majors.

Now? Now he’s 25 and has to rebuild everything at AA again, so everything depends on how his stuff recovers. He’ll have a chance if he can quickly regain the 91-93 mph fastball, plus curve, and average slider, but the thing to watch is whether his control comes all the way back or not. Currently he’s struggling with both his control and command, whereas prior to his injury he could fill up the strike zone.

Jacob Rhame – RP – 22 – 1.38 ERA, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 12 K (Month) – 2.08 ERA, 34.2 IP, 19 H, 13 BB, 44 K (YTD)

Rhame is still continually in the upper register of the “mid-90s” and regularly tops out in the high-90s, yet he still basically gets no attention, which is somewhat curious even though he is a relief prospect.

That said, he’s finding out that advanced hitters aren’t as impressed with his sheer power and he’s missing less bats and having to find the corners more, leading to more walks as of now. Still, he put together a great month of work, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him promoted if he follows it up with another quality 30 days. There’s an outside shot he could see time in September as well.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A+)

Hitters

Cody Bellinger – 1B – 19 – 106 PA, .206/.264/.412/.677, 11 XBH, 4 HR, 7 BB, 43 K (Month) – 311 PA, .262/.326/.495/.820, 36 XBH, 13 HR, 27 BB, 95 K (YTD)

Uh … yikes? Bellinger responded to a torrid May by striking out in about 40% of his plate appearances, so it’s safe to say pitcher have adjusted back to his 2015 approach. Should be interesting to see the response to these struggles and whether he can make the adjustment against much better competition than he’s seen over the past two years.

Johan Mieses – OF – 19 – 93 PA, .284/.352/.481/.833, 10 XBH, 2 HR, 8 BB, 19 K (Month) – 244 PA, .266/.314/.414/.728, 21 XBH, 5 HR, 15 BB, 48 K (YTD)

After two years in the DSL, he was promoted straight to A-ball to start 2015 and then was promoted again to high-A after a promising month of work in June. That fast-tracking shows a level of confidence in Mieses that the Dodgers don’t typically give to just anybody.

It appears warranted, as Mieses is a well-rounded player that can handle any outfield position. Of course, the reason Mieses is being pushed is his bat, which stands out due to a rapidly improving approach and 20-25 homer upside.

Erisbel Arruebarrena – SS – 25 – N/A (Month) – N/A (YTD)

Arruebarrena’s season-long suspension has been lifted, and all he did in June was play a single “rehab” game in Rookie-ball. He’s now in high-A at Rancho, but I have no idea what the Dodgers plan on doing with him at this point.

Jacob Scavuzzo – OF – 21 – 76 PA, .243/.263/.405/.669, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 2 BB, 12 K (Month) – 243 PA, .271/.300/.441/.741, 24 XBH, 6 HR, 8 BB, 47 K (YTD)

Scavuzzo hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in 2015, but he did enough to earn a promotion to high-A, which is significant after he struggled so badly in A-ball last year that he was demoted.

Prospect watchers have understandably cooled on him, but I’ve always kept track of whether he could put his tools together into something usable, because he can still fly from the right side and he has a very projectable build.

Devan Ahart – OF – 22 – N/A (Month) – 136 PA, .292/.393/.407/.800, 7 XBH, 2 HR, 19 BB, 19 K (YTD)

Ahart missed about six weeks of action in total, including all of June, but is currently playing rehab games in Rookie-ball.

Pitchers

Zachary Bird – SP – 20 – 5.01 ERA, 23.1 IP, 19 H, 8 BB, 24 K (Month) – 4.43 ERA, 63.0 IP, 46 H, 38 BB, 67 K (YTD)

I haven’t written here about Bird much, and his ERA was hardly impressive in June, but the walks have come down and he continues to miss bats in a tough environment for pitchers.

Bird is still a raw prospect with a plus fastball in the 92-94 mph range that threatens the plus-plus range at times, but his slider still lags behind a bit even for A-ball. The control is still the main issue here, but improvement is a promising sign and was why he merited mention.

Even if Bird doesn’t quite figure out his secondary stuff to continue as a starter, he would seem to have a role in relief given his arm strength.

Scott Barlow – SP – 22 – N/A (Month) – 2.43 ERA, 40.2 IP, 35 H, 17 BB, 39 K (YTD)

Barlow still hasn’t pitched since May 21, which probably is not the best of things.

Great Lakes Loons (A)

Hitters

Alex Verdugo – OF – 18 – 100 PA, .365/.390/.490/.880, 10 XBH, 1 HR, 2 BB, 15 K (Month) – 273 PA, .269/.304/.354/.658, 18 XBH, 1 HR, 11 BB, 42 K (YTD)

Verdugo started off the year in a horrific funk, but I kept saying I would be surprised if he didn’t turn it around at some point because his bat-to-ball skills just seemed too good for it to continue forever. Well, Verdugo finally put together a quality month, and things seem to finally be turning a bit for him.

Neither his raw strength or pitch recognition have really showed themselves yet even during this month, but he started to get more aggressive in June and it paid off for him, so I’d look for him to continue that trend until pitchers are forced to adjust back.

Julian Leon – C – 19 – 82 PA, .187/.247/.320/.567, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 5 BB, 24 K (Month) – 166 PA, .194/.242/.271/.513, 8 XBH, 2 HR, 8 BB, 50 K (YTD)

Seems bizarre to say this about Leon, but his bat is the concern at this point, with his catching unrefined but acceptable at this stage in his development. However, his banishment to extended spring training after early hitting struggles was supposed to get him untracked, and it still hasn’t paid off to this point.

There are minor promising signs that the power has improved and he’s being more selective instead of trying to hit everything out to left field, but the contact issues are still a problem.

Pitchers

Grant Holmes – SP – 19 – 3.55 ERA, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 16 K (Month) – 3.30 ERA, 57.1 IP, 44 H, 30 BB, 74 K (YTD)

Only three starts on the month for Holmes, but the same trends apply in regards to both his stuff and control. When he’s on, his stuff is too much for A-ball hitters to handle, it’s just a matter of consistency and repeatability.

The talk about his lack of projectability and all that is sort of meaningless when he’s already mid-90s and can go 97+ when he needs it.

I mean, look at this:

Ogden Raptors (R)

Hitters

Michael Medina – OF – 18 – 54 PA, .260/.296/.560/.856, 6 XBH, 4 HR, 2 BB, 19 K (Month) – 54 PA, .260/.296/.560/.856, 6 XBH, 4 HR, 2 BB, 19 K (YTD)

After flashing his plus power with the DSL Dodgers at 16, and then putting up an .880 OPS with the AZL Dodgers at 17, Medina is being pushed out of complex ball and he has continued to respond. Granted, the plate discipline is not anywhere close to being ready, which speaks to his rawness, but his power continues to play anywhere.

He’ll still have to make more frequent contact so he can use his plus power, he’d probably benefit from not getting so pull happy, and there’s a lot of pressure on the bat since he’ll likely be stuck in a corner, but it’s promising to see him continue to make progress even as the tests get harder.

Willie Calhoun – 2B – 20 – 52 PA, .289/.385/.556/.940, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 7 BB, 6 K (Month) – 52 PA, .289/.385/.556/.940, 6 XBH, 3 HR, 7 BB, 6 K (YTD)

The Dodgers fourth-round draft pick in 2015 has showcased his greatest asset a bunch in his first professional month, homering three times en route to a .940 OPS. Even better, Calhoun has more walks than strikeouts, and it’s looking like full-season ball might come sooner than later. Calhoun has good bat speed and an efficient swing, which are the two things he uses to generate his pull power. However, one has to wonder how that will play once he starts facing advanced pitching since he’s a better hitter when he’s using all fields.

For now Calhoun is a second baseman, but scouts speculate that he could end up in left field, which would make his path to prospect relevance a lot more difficult. The easiest solution for him would be to actually put in significant work to stay at second, something that many say hasn’t been done yet.

Pitchers

Andrew Sopko – SP – 20 – N/A (Month) – N/A (YTD)

Sopko was the seventh-round draft pick in 2015, and there’s nothing to say about his performance thus far since he hasn’t started yet. However, he’s interesting as a starter since he does feature a 90-91 mph fastball from a low slot, and has two off-speed pitches in his slider and change that could be above-average offerings.

AZL Dodgers (R)

Hitters

Mitch Hansen – OF – 19 – 22 PA, .105/.227/.105/.333, 0 XBH, 0 HR, 3 BB, 10 K (Month) – 22 PA, .105/.227/.105/.333, 0 XBH, 0 HR, 3 BB, 10 K (YTD)

The Dodgers drafted Hansen in the second round of this year and signed him away from Stanford, and given his age and swing path, he should be a candidate to start fast as a professional but it hasn’t happened yet. Regardless, the raw power projection is there, and while he’s likely limited to a corner spot in the long-term, he’s athletic enough to be productive defensively. Obviously though, his prospect status will revolve heavily around the progress with the bat.

Jared Walker – 3B – 19 – 33 PA, .333/.394/.633/1.027, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 2 BB, 10 K (Month) – 33 PA, .333/.394/.633/1.027, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 2 BB, 10 K (YTD)

The Dodgers 2014 fourth-rounder struggled in the AZL last year but has gotten off to a much faster start in 2015. While he was drafted as a shortstop and has played some second base this year, even remaining at third base is a question in the long-term. Thus, the pressure is on his bat, and what needs to happen is that his bat-to-ball skills need to play and the plus raw power needs to show itself at some point.

Pitchers

Miguel Urena – SP – 20 – 1.80 ERA, 10.0 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K (Month) – 1.80 ERA, 10.0 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K (YTD)

Urena has a ton of projection in his 6’8″ frame, and while he’s old for the level, it’s really just a matter of whether his stuff progresses. Because if it ever does click for Urena, he will move fast anyway.

Urena currently sits in the 91-92 mph range and can touch the mid-90s, but there’s room for him to tick up several notches, and the stuff plays up anyway because of his height and the plane at which it attacks the zone. His control is surprisingly not as bad as you would expect for somebody still learning his body and mechanics, so I think he has a feel for pitching, but he doesn’t miss bats because the fine command isn’t that close and his secondary pitches are still basically random.

Juan Jaime – RP – 27 – 0.00 ERA, 4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 9 K (Month) – 0.00 ERA, 4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 9 K (YTD)

Why is a 27-year-old in the AZL news, right? Well, Jaime was acquired in the Juan Uribe deal and was likely sent back to AZL to work on his mechanics, because arm strength certainly hasn’t been his problem. Jaime features a fastball that will sit 95-96 mph and can touch 99, and while his curve and change are both below-average, the main obstacle getting in the way of his effectiveness is his control.

Basically, if the Dodgers can just get him to throw strikes, they may have picked up a solid middle relief option. If not, then he’ll just be yet another journeyman flamethrower that can’t find the zone.

Kam Uter – RP – 19 – 6.75 ERA, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K (Month) – 6.75 ERA, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K (YTD)

It seems the Dodgers are not even going to bother pretending Uter could be a starter, which is sort of rare for a high school pick, but with his aggressive mentality and stuff that plays up in bursts, it could be the best thing for him in the end. Uter currently still sits in the 90-92 mph range but can already run it up in the mid-90s, and given how projectable his frame is, my hope is that he’ll soon be able to sit in that range in relief.

Uter doesn’t have three pitches, but I don’t think he needs three in relief if the curve develops as I think it will, and I think he can eventually spin a good one that will be consistently plus. Uter is athletic enough to repeat his delivery, and I don’t see control being an impediment in the long-term.

DSL Dodgers (R)

Hitters

Jefrey Souffront – SS/2B – 18 – 85 PA, .275/.318/.350/.668, 5 XBH, 0 HR, 4 BB, 24 K (Month) – 85 PA, .275/.318/.350/.668, 5 XBH, 0 HR, 4 BB, 24 K (YTD)

Signed as a 16-year-old for $60,000, Souffront is finally getting professional action in the DSL and he feels like a player who may only need a year in the league. He’s an offense-first shortstop that has above-average power and a solid hit tool that still needs plate discipline and spin recognition refinement. Souffront probably moves off short eventually, but he should be able to handle second (or even third), and really it depends on how his bat progresses.

Romer Cuadrado – OF – 17 – 110 PA, .194/.282/.316/.598, 8 XBH, 1 HR, 10 BB, 24 K (Month) – 110 PA, .194/.282/.316/.598, 8 XBH, 1 HR, 10 BB, 24 K (YTD)

Cuadrado hasn’t gotten off to a great pro debut, but he has plus strength and at 6’4″ projects to have plus raw power. The fact that he’s struggling in game action is not much of a surprise considering he was signed as project more than a baseball player, but his athleticism should help him adjust at the plate and keep him respectable in the field.

Pitchers

Leonardo Crawford – SP – 18 – 1.53 ERA, 29.1 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 32 K (Month) – 1.53 ERA, 29.1 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 32 K (YTD)

Signed for less than $50,000, the young lefty Crawford is showing out in the DSL, missing a lot of bats and keeping the ball in the strike zone. Crawford sits between 87-89 mph right now with a slow curve and a bit of a cutter/slider type thing. Crawford isn’t that projectable, so he’ll have to develop fine command and three pitches, but the velocity should tick upwards a bit.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times