2016 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: No. 20-11

The Top 20. It’s getting serious now. Every player from here on out are likely major leaguers — if they haven’t debuted already. Then there are guys who carry higher risks, but also have higher upsides. There very well could be some All-Stars and/or first-division players here.

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 more attainable 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.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 60
Curveball 45 50
Slider 40 45
Changeup 45 50
Cmd/Ctrl 40 45
Delivery 50 50
OFP 45 High

20. RHP Chris Anderson (6’3, 235 pounds, 23 years old)
The Dodgers chose 18th in the 2013 draft. J.P. Crawford fell all the way to No. 16 before the Phillies (smartly) snatched him. Two picks later, the Dodgers popped Anderson. While he had nice start to his career, he has gotten progressively worse (for lack of a better term) since then. He pitched mostly at Tulsa, but also got into three games in Oklahoma City. Nothing went well for him. He finished with a 4.74 ERA, 11.5 BB% and a 16.9 K% in 133 innings. The ERA and strikeout percentage were the worst of his career. In fact, his strikeout rate fell by more than 7 percent from the previous season and almost 8 percent from 2013-14. A move to the bullpen is coming, but it might not do much for him if he continues to have poor command and doesn’t miss bats.

When it’s on, Anderson’s fastball is among the best of any starting pitcher in the system. The pitch has touched the high-90s before, but it’s a heavy pitch that sits in the 92-95 MPH range with some action. He can sink it, but is far from a ground ball pitch. He has trouble commanding the offering and he tends to overthrow it. When he does so, the pitch is elevated and hittable once hitters time it. Anderson has a hard curveball with slider-like action at times. It’s a 78-81 MPH that gets some swings and misses and might have passed his fastball as his best swinging strike pitch. He also has an inconsistent slider in the mid-80s that is fringy and hasn’t shown much promise of getting better. His mid-80s changeup is the best weapon against left-handers that features good downward fade. The stuff hasn’t progressed as expected, but there’s still an outside chance of him putting it all together at some point.

He has a sturdy frame that is conducive to being a starting pitcher. It’s a clean delivery with a little funk in the form of a slight shoulder turn. He isn’t able to repeat the delivery or release point, which is of the high three-quarters variety. Because of this and the fact his front side opens too quickly, his command has suffered immensely.

Anderson has the best overall profile of any starting pitcher in the system. If he were able to put everything together, he could be a No. 2 starter. Instead, he’s ticketed for the back of the rotation or, more likely, the bullpen because of bad command/control and inconsistent offspeed stuff. If he goes to the bullpen, he’ll likely ditch the slider and hope the changeup improves. If not, a fastball-curveball combo could be possible. He has the stuff to be a back-end reliever, but he’ll likely be a middle reliever. Anderson will go to OKC and could be the team’s closer at some point.

2015 ranking: 5
2016 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City
ETA: 2017

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

19. RHP Chase De Jong (6’4, 205 pounds, 22 years old)
The Dodgers got De Jong from the Blue Jays for international slot money, exactly like they did with Jordan Paroubeck (No. 23) and Caleb Dirks (No. 48). He might be the best of the three acquired (Tim Locastro is a non-prospect for me). De Jong is a local kid from Long Beach and had a good 2015 campaign. He pitched in the Midwest League with Toronto and was immediately moved to the California League once the Dodgers acquired him. He had a 3.96 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 24.6 K% and a 7.1 BB% with the Quakes and is a pitcher who is more mature than one would expect for a 21-22-year-old.

De Jong doesn’t overpower hitters with his stuff, but he has three average offerings and a fourth that could get to average if everything breaks right. His fastball is an 88-90 MPH pitch that he can sink a bit, but not enough to avoid the label of a fly ball pitcher. He does a good job keeping it down, but he’ll default to the 4-seamer, which tends to be up in the zone. With some mechanical adjustments he has made recently, there’s a chance he could get an extra MPH or two, but it’s a pitch with an average ceiling. He uses his 12-6 curveball to work off his fastball. It has flashed above-average potential and he isn’t afraid to throw it when he gets in a bind. The biggest development might be that of his slider. It has a 10-4 shape and some depth to it. He’s still refining it, but it could jump a grade if he becomes more consistent with it. His changeup is still fringy at best and the pitch he’s likely to ditch if needed.

His delivery is mechanically sound and easily repeatable. He brings his arms over his head as he begins his wind-up. He still throws a bit across his body, but he’s able to repeat the delivery. His arm drags a little when his front foot lands, but he’s quick enough to make up for it. He’s able to get some downward plane to his pitches that could see him improve his ground ball rate at some point. He lands in good position to field and is plenty athletic for the position.

De Jong’s ceiling is that of a No. 4 starter. If he has to move to the bullpen, he could be a swingman type. I’m not sure his stuff would play up well in short relief. He should go to Tulsa in 2016. With the logjam of pitchers in the upper minors and De Jong’s age, there’s a chance he goes back to Rancho Cucamonga for a month or so, but it won’t do a ton for his development.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2018

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

18. RHP Ross Stripling (6’3, 190 pounds, 26 years old)
Stripling, the Dodgers’ 5th-round pick in 2012, missed the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery. He got about a half-season’s worth of work in 2015 and could be on his way back to being a legitimate prospect — even at 26. He had a 3.88 ERA and 3.86 FIP in his first taste of the Texas League. It took awhile for his feel for pitching to come back, but the overall stuff, he said, came back. Over a 8-game stretch that spanned almost a month-and-a-half, he posted a 2.56 ERA, .228 batting average against, a 20.1 K% and a 6.1 BB%. He also posted a 55 percent ground ball rate throughout the course of the season. There are signs that he’s getting back to where he once was.

The stuff is solid. Stripling has a low-90s fastball that he can sink a bit. He was able to hit 95 MPH with the pitch pre-surgery. Expect him to work more in the 88-92 MPH range, but it’s nice to know he has a little reach-back velocity if needed. His curveball has long been his best off-speed pitch. It’s a true 12-6 breaker that sits in the mid-70s. He can vary the shape of it so hitters can’t just sit on one break. It has the most swing-and-miss potential of any of his pitches. Stripling’s changeup was a developing pitch before the surgery and could be a legitimate third pitch. It features good fade away from lefties when he doesn’t rush it. His slider has cutter-like tendencies and is fringy at present, but he’s working on developing that pitch further.

Stripling’s delivery is clean and repeatable. He didn’t necessarily get hurt because of some mechanical flaw in it. He doesn’t have a lot of arm drag and does a good job of keeping his front shoulder closed as he’s going through his motion. His release point is over-the-top and he get some decent downward plane out of his 6-foot-3 frame.

His future in the organization is curious. He has a starter’s repertoire and mentality, but his best bet to pitch for the the big league club might be out of the bullpen. He had a No. 3 starter’s ceiling before the surgery. If he can make it all the way back, that ceiling is still attainable. More realistic, he’s a back-end starter or a swingman out of the bullpen. Like Lee, his stuff plays better as a starter than a reliever. He should have a rotation spot on a crowded OKC Dodgers pitching staff.

2015 ranking: 13
2016 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City
ETA: 2016

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 45
Curveball 50 50
Cutter 45 45
Changeup 50 50
Cmd/Ctrl 50 55
Delivery 55 55
OFP 45 Low

17. RHP Zach Lee (6’4, 210 pounds, 24 years old)
One way or another, this might be Lee’s final appearance on one of these lists. The Dodgers’ 2010 1st-round pick received a $5.25 million bonus to forgo his commitment to play quarterback at LSU. Despite pitching well with Triple-A Oklahoma City last year, his prospect star is dimming. He had a 2.70 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 18.0 K% and a sparkling 4.2 BB%. He made his major league debut in July against the Mets and, well, things went poorly (4 2/3 innings, 11 hits, 7 runs). While his command has improved since turning pro, the stuff hasn’t progressed. In fact, it has regressed. He just doesn’t miss many bats (8 percent swinging strike rate in 2015 with OKC).

Lee was an 88-93 MPH pitcher with the ability to hit the 95-96 mark. His velocity hasn’t ticked up (or even held) as once expected. Now, he’s an 88-91 MPH pitcher who can still run it up to 94 MPH, but that’s rare. He works more as a command/control and movement. He has the ability to get some run the 2-seamer, but it’s inconsistent at this point. He doesn’t have the velocity to miss over the middle of the plate. His best off-speed offering is probably his low-70s curveball. It’s a 12-6 curve that’s a bit loopy and is an average pitch. He catches hitters off guard with it at times and gets some grounders on the pitch. His changeup has the most potential of any of his non-fastball pitches. It’s a low-80s pitch that features some decent fade when it comes out of his hand correctly. He also has a fringy slider/cutter amalgamation in the 80-84 MPH range. It’s inconsistent and would be the first pitch to go if Lee has to give up any of them.

Where he excels is his pitchability and command. He’s a smart pitcher who knows what he wants to do, he just has trouble fully executing at times. His command has improved in recent years, but unless he’s pinpoint with it, his pitches will get hit. His delivery is one of the best in the system, and he’s still one of the most athletic pitchers in the system. He’s a capable fielder and has some Zack Greinke in that regard (that’s where the comparison ends, unfortunately). I’m the high guy on Lee and could still see him being a No. 4/5 starter in the majors, but he might be better suited as a swingman type that could become more prevalent in the coming years. His stuff won’t really play up in short-relief. He’s still down on the depth chart, so he’ll begin with Oklahoma City. There’s some prospect fatigue here, so a change of scenery for him could be the best thing for both parties.

2015 ranking: 8
2016 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
ETA: Debuted 2015

Tools Now Future
Hitting 45 50
Power 45 50
Speed 55 55
Defense 55 55
Arm 55 55
OFP 50 High

16. CF Trayce Thompson (6’3, 210 pounds, 25 years old)
The three players the Dodgers acquired in the Todd Frazier trade all appear in this portion of the list. First up is Thompson, who is the most athletic and has the highest ceiling of the three. He also has the biggest risk. He has always had the athleticism and tools, but never put it all together. He debuted with the White Sox in 2015 and outperformed his minor-league numbers by a wide margin — .295/.363/.533. Small sample size alert: He did so in 135 plate appearances, so the jury is still out on his future potential, but it was a nice glimpse into what could be if he reaches his ceiling.

Thompson stands with a straight-on stance and his knees slightly bent. His hands are at about shoulder-level with the bat almost resting on his shoulder. He loads with almost a slight turning in of his front hip as he lifts his front leg. Once the leg is planted, his hips have already cleared as the barrel is coming through the zone. He’s able to extend his arms and generate plus-raw power potential. His swing is a little long, but he has bat speed to help off-set that. In his brief MLB debut, most of his power came to the pull side (all but a double and two triples). When he goes the other way, he’s a much more well-rounded hitter. Just 12 of his 36 hits came to the right side of center field. That’s something to keep an eye on. His plate discipline is surprisingly good for a guy who struggled in the minors for as much and as long as he did.

As a runner, he’s a long strider when he runs. It almost looks like he isn’t giving full effort, but he’s still getting around the bases in quick order. Defensively, he plays a legitimate center field. This is something the Dodgers were lacking in the upper minors — at least, in the form of a prospect after Joc Pederson‘s graduation. He should be above-average out there, and might be better than Pederson, defensively, right now. If he moves to a corner spot, that grade could bump up. He also has plenty of arm for any outfield spot.

Thompson’s ceiling is that of a second-division center fielder. Realistically, he’s a fourth outfielder who can play center and rakes against lefties. Ideally, he’s Pederson’s backup to start the season. That probably won’t happen, so he’ll be Oklahoma City’s starting center fielder and be among the first to be recalled if there is an injury.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
ETA: Debuted 2015

Tools Now Future
Hitting 50 55
Power 35 40
Speed 60 60
Defense 40 45
Arm 45 45
OFP 50 High

15. 2B Micah Johnson (6’0, 210 pounds, 25 years old)
The other athletic position player acquired in the Frazier deal, Johnson was the White Sox’s 9th-rounder in 2012 and has done nothing but produce in the minors. He owns a career .301/.368/.431 triple slash in 1,761 plate appearances and 153 stolen bases (at a 75 percent clip), including 84 steals in 2013. While he might not be that kind of runner anymore, he still possesses plus-speed and could be the Dodgers’ best stolen base threat (who can also hit a bit) in the next few years. He got his first taste of the majors in 2015.

The left-handed hitter has a crouched stance that is open a bit with some bat waggle. He has a short stride in and toward the mound as the pitch is being delivered. He has good plate coverage with his swing and it’s short to the ball. He doesn’t have great bat speed by any means, but his line drive, up-the-middle approach allows for that. He hits a lot of balls on the ground and uses his legs, as most hitters with plus-speed should do. He doesn’t have much power. Johnson might hit 10 home runs in a season at best, but don’t expect that to be the norm. He has some gap pop, but it hasn’t translated to many doubles. He hit 20 of his 29 triples in his first two seasons, so even that has fallen off a bit in the last couple of seasons. His ability to walk makes up for the lack of power/pop. He owns good plate discipline and can work a count in hopes of a pitcher making a mistake. He’s similar to Jose Peraza, offensively, except Johnson draws walks.

Where Peraza has the edge is on defense. Johnson is less than graceful at second base. His footwork and mechanics are poor and not terribly conducive to him remaining at the position long-term. His arm is average at best, so there’s no ideas of him playing third base at some point. If he cannot make the necessary improvements to be a full-time second baseman, he’s rangy and athletic to handle center field. It remains to be seen if he make the correct reads to be a legitimate center fielder. He could be the next in the long line of second baseman/left fielder types — better than Alex Guerrero, though.

Realistically, he’s a high-quality role player who can play multiple positions (second base, center- and left field). His Dodger tenure got off to a rocky start, as he cut himself while trying to remove the seed from an avocado and required stitches. Despite the setback, he was already going to begin the season with Oklahoma City because the second base depth chart ahead of him is crowded (Howie Kendrick, Chase Utley, Enrique Hernandez). He could be a high average/OBP, fast second baseman at his peak. He could see Los Angeles this season, but a lot would have to happen for him to be in town before September.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
ETA: Debuted 2015

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 65
Slider 45 60
Changeup 25 40
Cmd/Ctrl 35 45
Delivery 45 50
OFP 55 Extreme

14. RHP Yaisel Sierra (6’4, 195 pounds, 25 years old)
The newest expensive signee from Cuba, the Dodgers gave him a 6-year, $30 million deal despite not having the greatest of numbers in Serie Nacional. Sierra had a 4.23 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 16.4 K% and 12.4 BB%. Underwhelming for sure, but the Dodgers’ front office is betting on the scouting reports on Sierra.

Like with Starling Heredia, not much has changed since his signing. There are reports that he has cleaned up his mechanics a bit, but he has yet to debut in the states. Here’s what I wrote about him last month.

“Eric Longenhagen of ESPN said Sierra’s fastball is in the 92-97 MPH range (translated: sits 92-95, tops out at 97). He added he also has flashed a 55-/60-grade slider. If the Dodgers need an immediate impact, they can have him pitch out of the bullpen while hoping he can develop into something more down the road.”

and

“The stuff and potential are absolutely there to be at least a middle-of-the-rotation starter. If he can’t stick in the rotation, a late-inning power reliever looks likely.

His future will be determined by how he takes to professional instruction, the development of a third pitch and how much his command/control improves. At 25, he won’t be babied through the minors. I could see him getting a low-level assignment to get his feet wet before jumping to Double- or Triple-A quickly. If all goes right, he could find himself in Los Angeles at some point this season. If that happens, it’ll likely be out of the bullpen. But the Dodgers aren’t about to commit $30 million to a 25-year-old pitcher only to have him be a reliever. He will be given every opportunity to start.”

The Dodgers say his 4-seam fastball tops out at 98 MPH, and he also has a 91-93 MPH 2-seamer to go with it. He also has a potentially plus slider. The changeup is almost non-existent. His command needs a ton of work. He’s so wild right now that he can’t really be trusted in high-leverage situations or as a starter.

Sierra will be developed as a starting pitcher, which makes sense. If he can find a third pitch and some command/control, then great. If he only finds one of those, he’s a reliever. If he finds neither of those, he’s a failed signing. But the Dodgers are betting on his pure stuff and ability. His ceiling is of a No. 3 starter or a late-inning reliever — maybe even a closer. It all depends on his command/control tool.

It’s anyone’s guess where he’ll start. The Dodgers have already said he’ll begin in the minors. He’s going to be in Glendale for spring training and could conceivably stay there for a couple weeks before heading out. A likely first stop is Tulsa. After that, a move to OKC shouldn’t be too far behind.

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

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 60
Curveball 40 55
Slider 35 50
Changeup 35 50
Cmd/Ctrl 40 55
Delivery 45 50
OFP 55 Extreme

13. RHP Walker Buehler (6’2, 175 pounds, 21 years old)
Buehler was viewed as a potential Top-10 selection in the 2015 draft. Instead, he slid to No. 24 and the Dodgers snatched him up. After a deep run in the College World Series, Buehler signed for less than slot at $1.78 million. That happened because it turns out he needed Tommy John surgery. He said in an AMA on Reddit that he didn’t know about the injury until the day of his physical. If he were healthy and didn’t need to have the procedure, he’d have been pushing the Top 5 in the system. Instead, the uncertainty has dropped him into the teens.

Pre-injury, Buehler had a fastball that sat in the low-90s and even hit 96 MPH on occasion. It has some movement and life on it. It has flashed plus-potential, but it remains to be seen how the velocity and movement come back after the surgery. The curveball is his best off-speed pitch. It’s an 11-5 breaker that has slider tendencies, flashes solid-average potential and sits in the 78-81 MPH range. He also has a slider with good depth and tilt in the mid-80s. It’s somewhat inconsistent and he kind of runs it into his curveball at times, making it a little slurvy. Some professional instruction could help to iron that out. He has a changeup that has flashed solid-average, but it might not ever reach that level.

This isn’t a straight 1:1 comparison, but there are shades of Tim Lincecum in Buehler’s delivery. He has a slight frame and he doesn’t resemble a guy who is going to add a lot of weight going forward. His delivery is a big high-effort and, coupled with a heavy workload at Vanderbilt, could have contributed to the torn UCL.

Here’s what I wrote after he was drafted.

“Buehler stands on the first-base side of the rubber with an almost “at attention” stance. He makes the turn quickly after beginning his delivery as his hands come down to belt-level. His leg kick isn’t as high as Funkhouser’s, though. He swings his leg forward and gets his front foot down. His arm can drag a little bit, but he catches it up with plus-arm speed that helps to generate good velocity. There’s more effort in his delivery than former Dodger draftees, and it’ll be interesting to see if the instructors can smooth that out a bit. He follows through with his delivery, but he doesn’t bend his back as much as other pitchers.”

The biggest thing hurting Buehler’s ranking (other than the TJ, obviously) is the fact he won’t throw a pitch in a professional game until 2017. That isn’t ideal for a guy drafted in 2015. He does have age on his side (he was a younger college draftee), but Buehler’s development is on hold until he recovers from TJ. If he can return to form, he has an outside chance of being a No. 2 starter. If not, he could be a low-No. 3 or No. 4 — a guy who still has value, but not as much as the day he was drafted. He could move quickly if he’s fully recovered, but he’ll spend the vast majority of his 2016 in Glendale.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Camelback Ranch
ETA: 2020

Tools Now Future
Hitting 40 55
Power 35 45
Speed 55 60
Defense 50 55
Arm 50 55
OFP 55 High

12. OF Yusniel Diaz (6’1, 195 pounds, 19 years old)
The Dodgers landed Diaz by giving him a $15.5 million bonus — second-highest of the July 2 signing period. The toolsy outfielder is pretty advanced for his age, with his power the only tool that’s lacking. He isn’t in the mold of a Yasiel Puig or Jorge Soler, but he can be an impact bat on offense and a solid defender.

Here’s what I wrote about Diaz when he signed in November.

“He has an interesting batting stance that starts slightly open and his front leg is pretty stiff. As the pitcher is about to deliver the pitch, Diaz crouches slightly and has a modified toe-tap. This is all before the bat is even going toward the strike zone. Sometimes it looks like his back side bails out too quickly, which could be a problem in pro ball. He has a line drive stroke and clears his hips, which is partly why scouts think there is power potential in the bat. It’s not the prettiest or smoothest approach I’ve seen, but it seems like the kinks can be smoothed out. In the video I watched, it looked like he is adept at going the other way. In some sense, his swing kind of reminds me of Hector Olivera‘s. It isn’t as refined or polished, but with instruction, it could be even better.”

There are times his swing can get long when he gets off-balance. But there is potential in the swing that got scouts (not just Dodger scouts) excited. He probably won’t add enough bulk to be a power hitter, but 10-15 homers in a season isn’t out of the question. With his good bat-to-ball skills, advanced plate discipline and speed, there’s a legit top-of-the-order hitter in him.

His speed might not translate to big stolen base numbers, but Diaz should be a guy who goes first-to-third and is aggressive on the basepaths. His speed plays well in the outfield, where he should stick in center field. If he has to move, his value would take a bit of a hit, but he’d be a more-than-capable right fielder. His arm plays better in center than right.

Diaz’s ceiling is a first-division center fielder who relies on a strong hit tool (and plate discipline) to have an impact on offense. His floor is a fourth outfielder who can play an effective center field. Visa issues will determine how quickly he gets to the states. He’s advanced enough to handle an assignment like Great Lakes. I could see the organization skipping him to Rancho Cucamonga so he doesn’t have to deal with the cold weather and poor hitting environment. He might get a look in the Dominican Summer League to start before climbing the ladder. If he handles his assignments well, he could be a fast mover — but there’s no need for the Dodgers to rush him.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: DSL Dodgers/Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2020

Tools Now Future
Fastball 55 70
Slider 50 60
Changeup 35 45
Cmd/Ctrl 40 45
Delivery 40 45
OFP 50 Medium

11. RHP Frankie Montas (6’2, 185 pounds, 23 years old)
Montas was the big piece acquired in the Frazier deal, and the Dodgers gave up some versatile middle infield depth in Peraza. Montas debuted with the White Sox last year after a pretty successful season in the Southern League — 2.97 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 23.2 K% and a 10.3 BB%. Most impressive, he allowed just 3 home runs in 112 innings with Birmingham. He struck out 20 hitters in his 15 big league innings, but he also walked nine of them. He had a rib removed just about two weeks ago and will miss the first 2-4 months of the season, but his development shouldn’t be stunted too much.

Something that can’t be taught is elite fastball velocity. Montas’ fastball sits in the mid-90s as a starter and has even touched 100 MPH in relief. He can sink it a bit when he takes something off of it, but he does have trouble commanding it. That could hold him back from reaching his ceiling. If he ends up as a reliever, his fastball compares favorably to Ken Giles‘. He backs up the plus-plus fastball with a plus-slider in the mid-to-high-80s. It features sharp 11-5 break and has some depth. It’s a true swing-and-miss offering. Those two pitches aren’t questioned much. The questions come in with his changeup. It’s fringy at best right now, and for him to remain in the rotation, he’ll have to have to be much more consistent with it. There are doubts that will happen.

Montas’ delivery almost seems a little out of whack as there are some moving parts. When he starts, he has his left leg step back toward first base and his right knee does a little lock/buckle. He then brings the leg all the way back, kicks it high and crosses it over his back knee. The front leg straightens out as he brings it down to strike the mound. His front leg is bent when he lands and his hips rotate open. He drives off his back leg but doesn’t bend his back as much as some other pitchers.  He has an extremely quick arm that helps him generate plus-plus — borderline elite — velocity. He delivers his pitches from a high three-quarters arm slot. He isn’t in a great fielding position after the pitch is delivered. He falls off significantly toward first base. The moving parts make it difficult for him to consistently repeat his delivery, leading to less-than-ideal command.

Montas has the durable frame to be a starter — or so it would seem. He does have a big frame, but he’s a bit heavier than the listed 185 pounds. Some threw a future Bartolo Colon body comp on him, which isn’t ideal. He might not ever get to that stage, but it’s something he’ll have to monitor throughout his career. He has also already dealt with two knee surgeries in his career, so a bulky frame could be problematic for his rotation hopes. If he remains in the rotation, he could be a No. 3 starter with two plus-pitches. If he ends up in the bullpen, he could be an elite closer or setup man. He should go to Triple-A once he’s healed from the surgery and gone through extended spring training. He could be in Los Angeles come September — maybe sooner, depending how the middle months of the season go for him.

2015 ranking: NR
2016 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
ETA: Debuted 2015

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Next up: The Top 10

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 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 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.