Now, it’s getting real. The Top 30. There should be plenty of recognizable names here. Every player from here on out is at least a 45-grade player, with many falling in the 50-55 range.
Like last year, I’ve included Overall Future Potential grades and risks for the Top 30 prospects. For example, if a guy gets a “50 low,” he has a really good chance to be an average player at his position. If a guy gets a “55 high,” there’s a good chance he won’t reach that ceiling, but the potential is there. The grades are 20-80 (50 is average), and the risks are as follows:
- Low: Players who are older, have debuted, are relievers and/or have higher floors than ceilings
- Medium: Players who are a mix of young and old, usually have higher floors
- High: Players who are usually younger with potential, but also question marks
- Extreme: Players who are younger with star potential, but a ton of question marks
The aim is to offer a prediction of the player’s future worth in the majors. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both do this.
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.
30. SS/3B Brendon Davis (6’4, 163 pounds, 18 years old)
The Dodgers landed Davis in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, but it didn’t come cheap — they gave him a $918,600 signing bonus. He was viewed as a 2nd-round prospect before fracturing his wrist in a tractor accident last winter. He made his pro debut in the Arizona League and was given a late-season promotion to Ogden for a week’s worth of games. He didn’t light up either stop (.254/.289/.325), but the potential is apparent with Davis.
At the plate, Davis’ swing is far from polished. In high school, his stance was wide. Since turning pro, he has shortened it up a bit. His stance is also slightly open. He holds his hands at shoulder level with the slightest bat wiggle. He incorporated a more pronounced leg kick in the pros compared to high school. Davis’ timing isn’t quite there yet with the new leg kick. But he does have quick hands and plus-bat speed that helps him make up when he gets out of sync. When the timing is right, everything works well and the potential with the bat can be seen.
He’s extremely skinny, especially for his height. There is a chance for him to easily add 30-40 pounds of good weight as he matures physically. If he does that, odds are he’ll probably have to move off shortstop. It depends how the added weight impacts his range, mobility and quickness. He looks comfortable in the infield, so a move to third base is probably the best thing for him down the line. He doesn’t need a ton of range to play a good third base, and he should hit enough to justify the move. There’s an outside chance of him moving to the outfield. Unless his speed ticks up in the future (which isn’t likely), he’d probably be relegated to a corner spot. If there’s any chance for him to handle center field, that might be the only thing better than him ending up at third base (and even that’s debatable). His speed is much better when he’s underway, so don’t expect a ton of stolen bases out of him.
He should go back to Ogden and be its starting shortstop. It’d be awfully surprising if the Dodgers rushed him up to Great Lakes, so he’ll spend a lot of time at extended spring training before the Pioneer League season begins.
2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Rookie Ogden
29. C Kyle Farmer (6’0, 200 pounds, 25 years old)
Drafted as an infielder, Farmer was immediately moved behind the plate in hopes of maximizing his skill set. So far, the Dodgers’ $40,000 investment is paying off. Farmer has established himself as the second-best catching prospect in the system (mostly thanks to Julian Leon‘s dismal 2015). He hit .296/.343/.437 in 487 plate appearances between Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa. Most of his offensive damage came while with the Quakes. Farmer’s offensive ability is closer to the numbers he posted with the Drillers.
Despite a solid frame, Farmer lacks any real over-the-fence power. He has just nine home runs in 1,066 plate appearances. He does have some gap pop, as he hit 40 doubles in 2015, but don’t expect him to be a double-digit home run guy at the next level. Farmer’s offensive profile is based on his ability to make contact. He limits his strikeouts with a short, compact swing. He holds his hands high with a straight up-and-down stance and slightly bent knees. He has a little hitch as he begins his swing. His swing path is pretty level and he isn’t afraid to go the other way. His approach is more of an up-the-middle/right field one that should help him stay out of any prolonged slumps because he isn’t pull-happy. The bat speed and overall strength isn’t there with Farmer, which limits his offensively upside. He seems to have decent pitch recognition, but it hasn’t translated to a higher walk rate.
Defensively, Farmer is plenty athletic to handle the position. He has a strong arm and is already adept at throwing out base runners. He nailed 42 percent of attempted base stealers at both Rancho and Tulsa. He has good footwork and soft hands when receiving pitches. His framing needs some work, but seeing as he was drafted in 2013 as an infielder, the defensive transition behind the plate couldn’t be going much better. He also logged some significant time at third base in 2015 (27 games), so he has that in his back pocket as well. Having a multi-position defensive skill set can only be good for a guy who doesn’t have the highest offensive upside. His ceiling is that of a strong defensive backup catcher who can play third base in a pinch. He probably won’t ever hit enough to be considered a full-time starter. Depending how things shake out, Farmer could find himself back in Tulsa to begin the season, but he will absolutely see Oklahoma City at some point in 2015 — probably pretty early.
2015 ranking: 46
2016 location: Double-A Tulsa/Triple-A Oklahoma City
28. OF Mitch Hansen (6’4, 195 pounds, 20 years old)
Hansen was the Dodgers’ 2nd-round pick in the 2015 draft — one of the two high school players they selected in the Top 10 rounds — and signed him to an over slot deal of $997,500. He isn’t like most high school draftees, as he will be entering his age-20 season in his second professional season. The easy comparison, physically, is Shawn Green. If Hansen ends up being even a fraction of what Green was, it will have been a great selection. But Hansen struggled in his pro debut. He was sent to the Arizona Rookie League and hit just .201/.281/.282 in 167 plate appearances. Most alarming is that he struck out in 30.5 percent of his PAs. Still, it’s best not to get caught up too much in rookie-league numbers.
He possesses a projectable frame, as he has plenty of frame to add more (good) weight. If he does that, his power should follow. Hansen holds his hands high and out over the plate. As the pitch is delivered, he brings his hands back toward the catcher before straightening up the bat. His stance begins slightly open, so he steps in and toward the pitcher. When he does, his legs bend a bit and he’s almost lunging toward the pitch. But his quick bat makes up for any kind of impatience when swinging. It’s a level swing, and that should continue to produce line drives going forward. His swing is generally quiet, but it could become a little more fluid, and that is something he’ll work on in the pros.
Defensively, Hansen will probably draw some time in center field, but he’s destined for a corner spot. He has plenty of arm for right field, so it just depends what corner he handles better. He also has average speed that could see him reach double-digits in stolen bases at some point. His ceiling is that of a first-division corner outfielder in the mold of a Paul O’Neill. Since he struggled as much as he did in his debut, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him head back to the AZL for a refresher. More likely, he’ll spend the first half of the season in extended spring training before heading off to Ogden.
2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
27. RHP Josh Sborz (6’2, 209 pounds, 22 years old)
Sborz was selected with the pick the Dodgers basically “bought” from the Orioles in April — 74th overall. He was a pitching machine at the University of Virginia, as he pitched in multiple roles. He wasn’t moved as aggressive as Paco Rodriguez was in 2013, mostly because Sborz had a much larger workload and wasn’t as specialized. He began his pro career with Ogden and threw four innings before getting promoted to Great Lakes to throw all of 6 1/3 innings. His final stop was in Rancho Cucamonga for 12 innings. He started three games, finished six and recorded two saves. The Dodgers seem intent on using him in a starter’s role — much like the organization has done in the past with Josh Lindblom, Chris Reed and, more recently, Brock Stewart. They’ll keep him in the role until he proves he can’t handle it. For the purposes of this ranking and grades, I’m viewing Sborz as a relief pitcher.
As a reliever, he has a legitimate mid-90s fastball (93-95 MPH) that touches 98 MPH. If he’s throwing in the rotation, I’d dial that down a few clicks (90-93 MPH seems reasonable). He can sink the fastball a bit, allowing it to play up just a bit and not be too straight. He pairs his fastball with a potentially plus-slider in the mid-80s. It has good depth and tilt and should be a more consistent swing-and-miss offering once he becomes more consistent with it. Unlike most relief prospects, he also has two more pitches — a curveball and a changeup. Unfortunately, both are below-average-to-fringy at this point. If he is to remain in a starting rotation, one of those pitches is going to have to make a significant jump. This is the biggest reason Sborz likely ends up in the bullpen.
His pitching motion is where things get interesting. He begins with his left foot off-set a bit. When he gets the sign, he comes to what looks like the set position from the stretch. Instead of delivering the pitch immediately, he does a mini wind-up — if you can call it that. It’s quick, but it’s something you definitely don’t see much of these days. When he breaks his hands, he drops his throwing arm at a 45-degree angle as to hide the ball as long as possible from the hitter’s eye. His front arm goes really high in the air, meaning there are a ton of moving parts to his actual delivery. He has a quick arm to try to make up for any lag in his delivery, but it’s going to be difficult to repeat consistently. He releases the pitch from a high three-quarters arm slot. Sometimes his front side flies open, causing the ball to run up-and-away from lefites.
Sborz has the ceiling of a late-inning reliever — possibly a closer if he hones his command. If not, a dominant 7th- or 8th-inning guy isn’t out of the question. The slider is legitimate, as is the fastball velocity. If he makes it as a starter, his ceiling could be a No. 3-4 innings-eater. He might get a quick look at Rancho before heading to the Texas League. There is a scenario in which he could debut this season, but 2017 is a more realistic debut date.
2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
26. RHP Jacob Rhame (6’1, 190 pounds, 23 years old)
The Dodgers popped Rhame in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, and he looks like he’s well on his way to the majors. He pitched mostly in Double-A last season and despite a dip in his strikeout rate, he still struck out 28.4 percent of the batters he faced in Tulsa.
Rhame does his damage with a fastball that is among the best in the system. It’s a mid-90s pitch that can reach the high-90s when he reaches back for it. He doesn’t get a ton of movement on the pitch, but with that kind of velocity, he can afford to have it be a little straight. His biggest issue will be commanding it. He has good not great command, so sometimes he leaves the pitch over the plate too much. Advanced hitters will be able to exploit that. He pairs the fastball with a slider that has cutter-like movement. It’s a mid-80s pitch with tight break and the potential to be a consistent swing-and-miss pitch once he refines it and gets better command of it. He also has a mid-80s changeup that is a nice weapon against left-handed hitters.
He throws from a three-quarters arm slot. This allows him to stay on top of his pitches despite not having prototypical height. His delivery is pretty straight forward and is repeatable. He’ll have to work on making sure everything is in sync when he pitches. That will lead to a more consistent release point, better command and potentially a higher ceiling. Right now, he looks like a sure bet to be a middle reliever in the majors. If he irons out his wrinkles, he could be a late-inning reliever. After throwing 50 innings in Tulsa, a ticket to Oklahoma City is the next progression.
2015 ranking: 36
2016 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City
25. RHP Scott Barlow (6’3, 170 pounds, 23 years old)
Barlow is about the last chance the Dodgers have to salvage what is easily their worst draft of the last 10-plus years. He was their 2011 6th-rounder and only recorded five outs in his debut season. He missed all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Since he has come back, he’s been good, but not as good as some had hoped. His ERA in the California League was really good (2.52), but it didn’t match up with his FIP (4.23). That’s a huge discrepancy. What was impressive is he gave up just five home runs in 71 1/3 innings of work. His biggest problem has been logging enough innings. His career-high is 106. For a guy drafted going on five years ago, that isn’t enough. Some suspect he’ll end up in the bullpen. This is definitely a make-or-break season for him as a starting pitcher.
He has better stuff than, say, Zach Lee, but Barlow’s pitchability is lacking. His fastball checks in at 90-93 MPH and has touched the mid-90s. He gets a little sink on it to induce some ground balls, but he’s hardly a sinker-ball pitcher. His command with the pitch is inconsistent. He backs up the fastball with a true power curveball in the mid-to-high-70s. It might be his best pitch. He isn’t afraid to throw it in any count. He also has a slider that has flashed average and a fringy changeup. It’s a true starter’s repertoire, but it remains to be seen if he’ll use it in the rotation or out of the bullpen. His delivery is relatively clean and sound. His wind-up is classic and he’s able to drive off his back foot to generate velocity. He has good arm speed and doesn’t suffer from any significant arm drag. He has a high three-quarters release point that allows him to stay on top of his pitches. Barlow has good athleticism that allows him to repeat the delivery, but an inconsistent release point is at the root of his command/control issues.
Seeing as he needs to build staminia, it wouldn’t be surprising for him to begin the season in Rancho. It’d be disappointing for his prospect status (and to himself, I’m sure), but it might be necessary. If not, he’ll slot right into Tulsa’s rotation, even vying to be the team’s opening day starter. If he can’t remain in the rotation, a shift to the bullpen where his stuff would tick up (and he’d likely ditch the changeup and/or slider) is realistic.
2015 ranking: 20
2016 location: Double-A Tulsa
24. 2B Willie Calhoun (5’9, 177 pounds, 21 years old)
Dubbed “funny body” by now-Braves’ assistant director of baseball operations Kiley McDaniel, the Dodgers nabbed Calhoun in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. The eye-popping statistic is that he hit 31 home runs in 63 games at Yavapai College in Arizona. It was a junior college and a friendly hitting environment, but a home run every two games is impressive. And his debut might have been the most impressive of any 2015 Dodger draftee. He made three affiliate stops and hit well at every single one. Overall, he posted a .316/.390/.519 triple slash with 11 home runs and a 35:38 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Calhoun has an open stance from the left side and kind of bobs his top-half toward the plate while wiggling the bat a bit (he also rests it on his shoulder). He closes his front side with a big leg kick as the pitch is being delivered. That helps him to generate surprising power from his smallish frame. He has a hitch before bringing the bat through the zone. His bat speed isn’t terribly impressive, but it’s enough to get to minor-league pitching right now. The swing path is good, but some mechanical tweaks to his swing might be needed as he progresses through the minors. The biggest concern is that everything is to the pull side — his power and overall hitting profile. He’ll need to learn to go the other way (just in general, not just with his power) to avoid getting exploited at the higher levels of the minors. Calhoun won’t be a big-time power hitter at the next level, but there is 15-home run power and a lot of line drives in the bat. He also has a good eye that should only help his cause at the plate. He’s a fringy runner who won’t get much faster, but he could be a smarter base runner to make up for the lack of pure speed.
Because defense matters, Calhoun’s overall ranking suffers a bit. He’s a second baseman, but really only in name. He’s clunky out there and doesn’t have the strongest arm — even for second base. He seems to be better ranging to his left than his right, but everything about his second base defense needs improvement. The Dodgers will keep him there as long as possible. The theory is, “If Jeff Kent can play second base, anyone can (except Alex Guerrero).” Calhoun will test that theory. If he has to move to left field, that puts a dent in his future outlook. But he isn’t getting to the majors based on the strength of his defense. He could go back to Rancho for a refresher before heading to Tulsa, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Dodgers sent him straight to the Texas League to give him a challenge.
2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
23. OF Jordan Paroubeck (6’2, 190 pounds, 21 years old)
Paroubeck was a 2nd-round selection by the Padres in 2013. He was acquired by the Dodger (along with Caleb Dirks) from the Braves for international slot bonus money. Things haven’t gone exactly like he thought they might, as Paroubeck didn’t play in 2013 because of a shoulder injury. But in his first two seasons, he has hit well. With the AZL Dodgers and Ogden, he hit a combined .331/.409/.551 with 18 extra base hits in 154 plate appearances. He’s one of the most athletic players in the system and could end up being a player the Braves regret trading for cash.
The switch-hitter begins his left-handed stance with his feet about should width apart and stands fairly straight up with a slight bend at the knees. His hands are at shoulder level and he wiggles the bat just a bit pre-pitch. He brings his hands up as he lifts his front leg. It isn’t a terribly high leg kick. It looks like he uses it more for timing than potential power. He does a good job staying on pitches on the outer half and has a swing geared for line drives. The swing path is level and the hands are quick to get the bat through the strike zone. He has good, raw power, but it has yet to fully present itself in-game. It’s pull-side power, so don’t expect a ton of opposite-field blasts. Despite that, he should be good for at least double-digit home runs, with something like 18-20 homers being his ceiling. Everything else is generally similar from the right side of the plate, except his leg kick from that side isn’t as pronounced as it is from the left side. He has displayed a good eye in his brief professional career and could get on base by walking a fair amount of times. He has solid-average speed, but he won’t use it to steal a ton of bases. He’s athletic enough, but the speed is better when he’s underway.
Paroubeck has the look of a center fielder, but he has played more left field than any other position in his career. The Dodgers might try him in center field. If he can handle it, he could skyrocket up this list next year. If he’s just a left fielder, he should be a good defender with plenty of arm for the position. He could also find himself in right field, but his arm would be fringy-to-average (think Andre Ethier‘s arm). His ceiling is that of a top-of-the-order center fielder with pop. More likely, he’s a second-division left fielder or a platoon outfielder on a contending team. Paroubeck handled the Pioneer League well in limited time, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Dodgers push him to Low-A. He could also stay at extended spring training before heading back to Ogden and then to Great Lakes. They should be aggressive with him and try him out in Midland.
2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Low-A Great Lakes/Rookie Ogden
22. OF Starling Heredia (6’2, 200 pounds, 17 years old)
The Dodgers signed Heredia out of the Dominican Republic on July 2 (along with Yadier Alvarez, Ronny Brito and others) for $2.6 million. He has many appearances at showcase events, and the Dodgers thought it a prudent investment to put $2.6 million into this player who has swing elements of Manny Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Bautista in him. He’s a big kid already (and is actually a bit bulkier than his listed weight) and could end up looking like a bargain if he reaches his ceiling.
I wrote about Heredia when the Dodgers were first rumored to be in on him. Here’s what that write-up said.
“Heredia begins his stance with a wide base and his hands at shoulder level. He has a big leg kick that causes him to put his weight on his back leg. Surprisingly, he keeps his back leg pretty stiff/straight, unlike most hitters whose legs tend to bend/collapse a bit. He did make adjustments later in the video to bend his back leg a little more. He gets his front foot down quickly, opens his hips and brings the bat through the zone. Despite the high leg kick, he has a surprisingly short path to the ball, especially with his plus-bat speed. The ball jumps off his bat as he rolls his top hand over. The ball also sounds great coming off his bat. He displays plus-raw power that could translate to in-game power as he matures (remember, he’s just 16). The in-game video of him showed more of a line-drive approach, but the potential for power is definitely there. As McDaniel wrote, he definitely has a Manny Ramirez-esque finish to his swing. He also has some Hanley Ramirez and Jose Bautista in him. It’s not surprising to see him emulate three of the best Dominican-born hitters of the last 20 years.
He has a short, choppy running motion that definitely isn’t graceful, but he clocked in with some plus-times for scouts, so it’s hard to be too critical of it. I’d like to see him track fly balls down in center field, but there was no video of that. He’s better once he’s underway, which might preclude him from being a big base stealer, but should help him stick in center field. Of course, he could grow another 2-3 inches, add 25-40 pounds and move to a corner spot (maybe left field as his arm isn’t the strongest). It’s really hard to fully scout his potential without knowing if he’ll have a growth spurt, but he already has a MLB body. His body reminds me a little of Yasiel Puig‘s, but his swing is completely different.”
I figure it doesn’t make sense to basically re-type all that, since not a lot has changed since his signing. He hasn’t played one professional inning, which isn’t uncommon for international signees. What also hasn’t changed is the fact he has the look of an offense-first player who should be passable in either corner outfield spot. There are those who envision him sticking in center field, but that simply isn’t going to happen.
Heredia should spend the entire season in the Dominican Summer League. He’s only 17, so there’s no need to rush him. If he can be anything remotely close to the players listed above, the Dodgers will have hit another home run.
2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: DSL Dodgers
21. OF Jacob Scavuzzo (6’4, 185 pounds, 22 years old)
Scavuzzo was drafted out of high school in the 21st round of the 2012 draft. He had a great season two years ago only to get thoroughly handled in the Midwest League the following season. He bounced back in 2015 to post solid numbers (.286/.337/.500) to get back on the prospect map. He hit better in Rancho than in Great Lakes, but almost anyone can make that claim.
Scavuzzo has changed his overall game since being drafted. He used to have a closed stance with a toe-tap. Now, he has a more straight-on stance and a big leg kick that is conducive to generating power. With that has come some swing-and-miss, but not as much as one might expect. He has plus-bat speed due to strong forearms and wrists. He has tinkered with his wing and might have finally settled on something that works for him going forward. He’s not going to win any batting titles, but he should make enough contact to be serviceable. He is now more of a power-hitter prospect rather than a contact-oriented prospect.
Defensively, he’s a corner outfielder. At one time he was a potential center fielder, but adding bulk put an end to that. His speed a decent and much better underway, which should serve him well enough in a corner spot. Left field is more ideal. There’s even some idea of Scavuzzo getting some reps at first base. With the Dodgers’ emphasis on versatility, this wouldn’t be a bad thing. He had 225 plate appearances in Rancho, so there’s not a ton left for him to do there. He might start there, but he’ll definitely see Tulsa — probably in the first month or so of the season.
2015 ranking: 35
2016 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
Next up: Prospects 20-11