2016 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: No. 50-41

Now we’re getting into the thick of the list. Some of the names here should be familiar, but there are going to be some “who?” responses. There are some sleepers here, too.

Previous entries in the series:

Editor’s note: I am not a scout (#notascout). I am an amateur when it comes to evaluating players. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information to the masses. Notes and comments are based on personal observation, talking to sources, reading scouting reports and watching video. All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable (think Giancarlo Stanton‘s power), and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 55
Curveball 40 50
Slider 35 45
Cmd/Ctrl 40 55
Delivery 40 50

50. LHP Leonardo Crawford (6’0, 180 pounds, 19 years old)
Crawford was signed out of Nicaragua at 17 years old for $47,500 on the first day of the 2014 July 2 signing period. Not a ton was (or is) known about him, but he did nothing but dominate the Dominican Summer League in his debut season. He had a 1.41 ERA, 29.1 K%, 3.9 BB% and didn’t allow a home run in 63 2/3 innings. It’s hard to get too excited about an 18-year-old dominating the lowest level of professional ball, but it’s a lot better than him getting knocked around.

He has a small frame that may not be conducive to starting long-term, but we’re seeing more and more smaller starting pitchers these days, so perhaps he has a future in the rotation. He has a fastball that is in the 90 MPH range, and he could add velocity as he comes stateside with more instruction. He backs up his fastball with a slow curveball that is his primary off-speed pitch and an unrefined slider/cutter. He’ll probably add a changeup down the road, if he hasn’t started to already. We’ll call it a slider for now. What has been most impressive so far is his command. He hasn’t been overly hittable and doesn’t walk a lot of hitters. He pairs that with missing bats, which is promising. The athletic teenager should get to the AZL in 2016, with an outside chance of seeing Ogden.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2021

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 50
Curveball 45 50
Slider 30 45
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 50 55

49. RHP J.D. Underwood (6’2, 215 pounds, 23 years old)
Underwood was the Dodgers’ 5th-round pick in 2013. He pitched mostly out of the rotation in his first two seasons before the Dodgers moved him to the bullpen exclusively for 2015. The move paid off with as Underwood posted a 2.75 ERA, 23.4 K%, 4.9 BB% and a Midwest League All-Star berth.

Underwood does it with command/control rather than pure, overpowering stuff. His fastball is a high-80s pitch that touches 92 MPH on the radar gun occasionally. He gets a little movement on the pitch and posted a 53.3 GB% in 2015. His curveball is the better of his two breaking pitches, but his slider isn’t markedly better than the curve. Both project to be average at best. He’s a pitchability guy and has a decent delivery. His front side opens up a bit, which leads to his pitches being up in the strike zone. That’s when he gets hit. But when he stays closed, he’s able to get some run on his fastball and is able to locate his pitches with good accuracy. He has some of the best command in the system. A trip to Rancho Cucamonga might not look good on paper, ultimately, but it’s the next step up the MiLB ladder.

2015 ranking: 82
2016 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2019

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 50
Slider 45 55
Cmd/Ctrl 40 45
Delivery 40 45

48. RHP Caleb Dirks (6’4, 225, 23 years old)
Dirks was acquired with Jordan Paroubeck for one of the Dodgers’ July 2 slot bonuses. He was originally a 15th-round pick in the 2014 draft by the Braves. In his brief MiLB career, he has done nothing but produce: 1.42 ERA, 29.0 K%, 0.3 HR/9. The only thing you could really knock is his command/control, as he has posted a 10.0 BB% in his first 82 1/3 innings in pro ball.

He works without truly overpowering stuff, but it has been successful for him thus far. His fastball is a 89-92 MPH offering with a some arm-side movement. Sometimes it’s because his front shoulder opens up, sometimes it’s by design. That’s part of his inconsistency with his command/control. The slider has improved since he turned pro. It was once a slurvy pitch, now it’s a little tighter and a true slider that checks in at 79-81 MPH. He’s able to vary the speed of it, giving hitters a different look. It has an 11-5 break and is equally effective against lefties and righties. Seeing as he doesn’t have a third pitch, the slider would need to work against both kinds of hitters. His delivery is Ryan Dempster-esque with the way his hands break away before the pitch is delivered. He’s rather upright in his delivery and has a tendency to have a hard time repeating his release point. Sometimes his front end opens up too soon, sometimes he holds the ball a bit too long. Correcting that and being more consistent with his release point will be crucial for him going forward.

There is a scenario in which he pitches in the majors this season, but a full season in the organization would be best for his development. He should go back to Tulsa and move up to Oklahoma City before too long. He has the ceiling of a decent middle reliever.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Double-A Tulsa/Triple-A Oklahoma City
ETA: 2017

Tools Now Future
Hitting 40 50
Power 35 45
Speed 45 50
Fielding 45 50
Arm 55 55

47. 3B Jared Walker (6’2, 195 pounds, 20 years old)
Walker was the Dodgers’5th-round pick in 2014 and hasn’t yet made it out of the Arizona Rookie League and hasn’t performed incredibly well. He did hit for the cycle in the fourth game of the season (also stole three bases), but was generally quiet in the league. Despite that, his athleticism and overall profile are what intrigues most. He has the frame to add some bulk and increase his power potential. Doing that might keep him at third base, but he also has a chance to end up in the outfield. He even dabbled at second base in 2015.

At the plate, he has a loose swing that produces line drives. He has doubles power for now that could turn into over-the-fence power as he continues to develop and fill out. He has enough bat speed to get excited about and project. His ceiling could be that of a power-hitting, left-handed-swinging third baseman. If not, a contact-oriented guy with decent pop could also be valuable. He could end up in any of the four corner spots on the diamond, as he has enough arm for right field. He’ll remain at third base as long as he can handle it. An assignment to Ogden is the next step for him.

2015 ranking: 62
2016 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2021

Tools Now Future
Hitting 40 45
Power 30 35
Speed 50 50
Fielding 45 50
Arm 45 50

46. 2B/UTIL Brandon Trinkwon (6’1, 170 pounds, 24 years old)
An unheralded 7th-round pick in 2013, Trinkwon had his best professional season in 2015. He began with Rancho Cucamonga and made the California League All-Star team (after his promotion to Tulsa). While he isn’t going to be known for his power, his contact rate and ability to draw a walk will be his offensive profile. He has a short swing and relatively level path to the ball that is conducive to a higher contact rate. He also has good strike-zone judgment.

Defensively, Trinkwon is your classic utility player. His best position is second base, but he can play shortstop and third base if needed.  He isn’t going to be spectacular at any one spot on the field, but his utility gives him the best shot of reaching the majors. He could go back to Tulsa for a refresher before a midseason promotion to Oklahoma City.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Double-A Tulsa/Triple-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2017

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 45
Curveball 35 45
Slider 45 50
Changeup 45 50
Cmd/Ctrl 50 55
Delivery 45 45

45. RHP Pablo Fernandez (6’1, 185 pounds, 26 years old)
Fernandez was a surprise $8 million signing at the same time the Dodgers signed Hector Olivera. It was a minor-league deal, which raised some eyebrows. His first taste of professional ball didn’t go well for him. He pitched across three levels and spent most of his time in A-ball. Overall, he had a 3.92 ERA, 22.2 K%, 3.8 BB% — all decent numbers, but he also gave up 49 hits and six home runs in 43 2/3 innings. He was also facing competition that was considerably younger than the 25-year-old Fernandez.

The lazy comp is Orlando Hernandez, but Fernandez would be lucky to be 10 percent of what El Duque was in the majors. Fernandez has a fastball that sits in the 85-88 MPH range and tops out at 90. It has solid arm-side run and movement. He could benefit by keeping it down in the zone more, especially as he progresses in throughout the minors. His best secondary pitch is his 79-80 MPH changeup that features good fade away from left-handers. He also has a loopy 11-5 slider in the 79-81 MPH range. It’s his best breaking pitch. His curveball is generally in the 71-76 MPH range. He also throws a slower version in the high-60s. It has an 11-5 break and isn’t much more than a show me pitch.

He has a high leg-kick, ala Hernandez, but it isn’t as exaggerated as that. He drives off his back leg well as it collapses a bit and his arm is in good position when his front foot lands. He’s able to repeat his release point consistently, but he also throws across his body pretty noticeably. He hides the ball for a long time, but hitters are still able to pick it up. He loses some velo on his pitches from the stretch, but since he doesn’t have a lot to begin with, it’s not that big a deal. He should see Tulsa this season and has an outside shot of making it to Triple-A. If he reaches his ceiling, he could be a No. 5 starter. But if he ever sees time in the majors, it’ll likely be out of the bullpen as a middle- or long reliever.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2018

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 60
Slider 40 55
Cmd/Ctrl 35 45
Delivery 45 45

44. RHP Angel German (6’4, 185 pounds, 20 years old)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $75,000, German struggled in his first two professional seasons (7.45 ERA). He didn’t exactly break out in 2015 (4.71 ERA), but the reports on him were generally positive.

German’s best pitch is his fastball. It sits in the 91-95 MPH range and gets as high as 97 MPH as a starter. He has a quick arm that allows him to generate such velocity. He doesn’t drive much off his back leg when delivering pitches to the plate. He’s able to get a little movement on the pitch. He backs it up with a slider that sits in the high-80s and has flashed plus at times. He doesn’t have a third pitch to speak of, so he’ll need to develop one if he’s to remain a starting pitcher. That, and he’ll need to improve his command/control of his offerings. He has the pure stuff but is lacking command of his pitches. He also needs to work on being a little more fluid with his delivery if he wants to have an easier time repeating his release point. His likely ceiling is a power reliever with back-of-the-bullpen potential. If he sticks in the rotation, he could be a No. 3/4 type, depending on how his stuff and command progress. He should begin the season with Ogden.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2021

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 50
Curveball 35 45
Changeup 45 55
Cmd/Ctrl 40 50
Delivery 45 50

43. LHP Jairo Pacheco (6’0, 165 pounds, 19 years old)
It seems like Pacheco has been around for a long time. He was signed out of Venezuela in 2013. He had success in the lower levels in his first two seasons, but stumbled a bit in his first real taste of the Pioneer League in 2015. He saw his strikeout rate (19.3 K%), walk rate (10.5 BB%) and home run rate (0.6 HR/9) all go in the wrong direction. Still, being left-handed and having the ability to throw strikes keeps him in the Top 50.

His stuff isn’t overpowering, as he pitches in the 88-91 MPH range with his fastball. He hasn’t added as much velocity as some might have expected since he signed, despite having a small frame. He gets a little natural arm-side run on the pitch that allows it to play up a bit. He has a slurvy breaking ball that is classified as a curve. It’s a mid-to-high-70s pitch that needs some refinement. His best off-speed pitch is his changeup. It has flashed plus-potential and is his best weapon against right-handed hitters. Like all of his pitches, though, it needs to be refined a bit.

Pacheco has all the look of a starting pitcher, but if he can’t get his off-speed offerings and command figured out, he might be destined for the bullpen. He logged 70 2/3 innings in Ogden last season, so a move to the Midwest League is the next step. If the Dodgers decide to have him repeat Ogden before getting a promotion, that wouldn’t surprise me. He has age on his side.

2015 ranking: 27
2016 location: Rookie Ogden/Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2020

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 55
Curveball 40 50
Slider 35 50
Changeup 35 45
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 50 50

42. RHP Nolan Long (6’10, 240 pounds, 22 years old)
Scouting report: He tall. But seriously, Long was drafted in the 16th round of the 2015 draft and had a solid professional debut. He pitched in the AZL and Midwest League and posted a 1.93 ERA, 27.4 K%, 8.9 BB% and allowed just one home run in 32 2/3 innings. He pitched mostly as a reliever, but he has potential as a starting pitcher.

His fastball is an 88-92 MPH pitch that has touched 95 MPH. It doesn’t have a ton of movement, meaning he’ll need to be a bit more precise when locating it. He has the velocity to miss up at times, but he’ll need to use his large frame to work on getting downward plane on the pitch. He has a mid-to-upper-70s curveball to complement his fastball. It has a 12-6 break, but also is a bit loopy. He has a cutter-like slider that could use some refinement. If he figures it out, it could end up being an above-average offering for him. His changeup is purely a show me pitch that he might ultimately end up dropping if he can’t make it a more viable pitch.

He showed some good command/control in his debut and has a slow delivery that he seems to be able to repeat regularly. It’s easy to throw tall pitcher comps on him, but I do see some combination of Chris Young and Jamey Wright in Long. It’s possible he could have that kind career, too. If he remains in the rotation, he could be a serviceable 4/5-type guy. If not, a swingman-type pitcher could be his future, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. He should go back to Great Lakes with a promotion to Rancho Cucamonga a possibility at some point.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2019

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 50
Curveball 40 55
Changeup 35 45
Cmd/Ctrl 35 50
Delivery 35 45

41. LHP Philip Pfeifer (6’0, 190 pounds, 23 years old)
The Dodgers’ 2015 3rd-round pick and college teammate of Walker Buehler, got all of five outs in his pro debut because of elbow soreness shortly after his debut. The Dodgers played it safe and didn’t let him pitch after that. He had a heavy workload at Vanderbilt and during the College World Series.

His fastball isn’t overpowering by any means. It’s a high-80s-to-low-90s pitch. He has a little reach-back velocity that he might tap into if he ends up in the bullpen. His curveball has slurvy tendencies, but it’s his best off-speed pitch as of now. It’s a mid-to-high-70s pitch with an 11-5 break to it. When he snaps it off well, it flashes above-average. His high-70s-to-low-80s changeup needs some work, but it could be his best pitch against righties.

Pfeifer has a herky-jerky delivery (I won’t call it violent, but it isn’t smoother, either) that might be tough for him to consistently repeat going forward. His best trait might be his intelligence. He knows what he wants to do to get hitters out while on the mound. That helps to make up for the lack of plus-stuff. He has a lot of moving parts in his delivery, and that contributes to fringy command. He just needs to concentrate to be able to find a reliable release point for his pitches. The J.P. Howell comp is really apt in this situation. I could see him at the end of a rotation or as a Howell-type out of the bullpen. He should go back to Ogden for a refresher before getting to Great Lakes, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go straight to Great Lakes, provided he’s healthy.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Rookie Ogden/Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2019

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Next up: Prospects 40-31

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.