The minor-league season starts today, and all the Dodger full-season affiliates have officially announced their rosters. There weren’t a lot of surprises, but the two biggest were hitters who were assigned to Double-A.
Here are the rosters. My Top 100 prospect rankings are in parenthesis (if applicable).
Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers
Pitchers: Luis Avilan, Lisalverto Bonilla (80), Jharel Cotton (9), Grant Dayton, Carlos Frias, Jeremy Kehrt, Zach Lee (17), Adam Liberatore, Jacob Rhame (26), Dustin Richardson, Ian Thomas, Chin-hui Tsao, Julio Urias (2), Matt West
Noticeably absent is Jose De Leon. The Dodgers are attempting to monitor his innings in 2016, which is fine, I guess. He’s in extended spring training and, in theory, should be available to the major league team later in the season. The OKC Dodgers still boast a solid roster, led by Urias, Cotton and opening day starter Lee. Another interesting name to watch on the pitching staff is Bonilla, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and had some success in the Rangers’ organization in the past.
On offense, it seems to be lacking since guys like Austin Barnes and Trayce Thompson are in the majors right now. Johnson is, easily, the best offensive prospect of the lot, with a lot of Quad-A players surrounding him. I could see a guy like Segedin making it to Los Angeles at some point in 2016, but it’d be better if he doesn’t (because he’d likely be coming up to replace an injured player).
Double-A Tulsa Drillers
Pitchers: Chris Anderson (20), Scott Barlow (25), Logan Bawcom, Alex Burgos, Ralston Cash (31), Chase De Jong (19), Caleb Dirks (48), Seth Frankoff, Felipe Gonzalez, Michael Johnson (79), Red Patterson, Rob Rogers (85), Jordan Schafer, Dale Thayer
This team looks a lot better than last year’s squad. It’s kinda weird to say that seeing as it started with Corey Seager and Urias and ended with the inclusion of De Leon on the roster, but there wasn’t much other higher-ceiling talent in Tulsa. This year, the offense looks absolutely stacked. Ahart, Bellinger, Calhoun, Verdugo all figure to get plenty of playing time (and they’re all left-handed hitters). From the right side, Farmer, Drake and Scavuzzo should help balance out the lineup. The two best defensive players should play quite a few games together (EA and Bellinger), while Law profiles as a super utility guy.
On the pitching side, Anderson returns (for all intents and purposes) and it remains to be seen if he’s going to work out of the rotation or the bullpen. With the pitchers on the roster, the Dodgers might still give him a shot to start. De Jong is the most interesting pitching prospect, as he had some success in Rancho after coming over from the Blue Jays last year. Barlow is a guy I’m higher on than most and should be a solid producer. The bullpen looks like it should be in good shape with Cash, Dirks, Johnson and Thayer (until he’s promoted to Triple-A). Schafer, a former center field prospect, is an interesting conversion guy — but I wouldn’t expect much out of him.
High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Pitchers: Tommy Bergjans (81), Joe Broussard (63), Luis De Paula, Scott Griggs (58), Grant Holmes (6), Kyle Hooper (70), Karch Kowalczyk (51), Trevor Oaks (34), Chris Powell, Bubby Rossman, Josh Sborz (27), Brock Stewart (61), A.J. Vanegas (59)
I was a little surprised to see Leon get the promotion after a dreadful 2015 in Midland, but the catching depth starts to thin out the lower you get in the minors. Speaking of, Hoenecke has been mostly a corner infielder since being drafted. The Dodgers are trying to see if there’s anything to get out of him by putting him behind the plate. Diaz is the guy I’m really excited to see. He should be able to handle this assignment as a 19-year-old and could post big numbers in the hitter-friendly California League. Combined with Mieses and Toles, the outfield defense in Rancho should be top-flight. The infield looks more defense-focused, but there should be enough offense for the Quakes up and down the lineup.
Holmes leads the pitching staff, with Oaks being the “veteran” guy in the rotation. They could form a solid 1-2 punch. The results for Holmes don’t particularly matter too much. The biggest thing to watch with him is his command/control. That’s what needs to take a step in the right direction in 2016. Stewart could be a sleeper-type guy in the rotation, while the bullpen looks solid on paper. The bullpen is led by Sborz, who probably won’t be in Rancho for too long. Vanegas has some talent, as do Broussard, Griggs, Hooper and Kowalczyk. If nothing else, there’s a lot of velocity there.
Low-A Great Lakes Loons
Pitchers: Isaac Anderson (98), Brian Bass, Michael Boyle, Adam Bray, Kevin Brown, Marcus Crescentini, Victor Gonzalez (57), Garrett Harrison, Alex Hermeling, Nolan Long (42), Gavin Pittore, Dennis Santana (66), Andrew Sopko (72)
This is one of the more interesting clubs, as the Dodgers are being awfully aggressive in sending both Davis and Estevez to such a tough hitting environment. I like the move. Even if they struggle, it isn’t the end of the world (and it doesn’t mean they’re destined for stardom if they rip the cover off the ball, either). Davis is a rail-thin shortstop who might eventually have to move to third base. Estevez was seen as a second base-only guy who played some shortstop in spring training. It’s anyone’s guess how manager Gil Velasquez handles those two. Jones should be the team’s cleanup hitter, while Paroubeck could slot in as the No. 3 guy in the lineup. Sandoval could be a defensive anchor in center field. It’s a solid offense with a chance to take a step forward depending how Davis and Estevez do.
On the pitching side, there isn’t a ton to get excited about. Opening day starter Boyle had 18 decent innings in Great Lakes last year but profiles as a reliever. Long might be the most intriguing guy, with Santana having the most upside. Sopko should be an innings-eater in the rotation. Anderson will be a command/control guy. In the bullpen … hmm. Well, there will certainly be pitchers who pitch out of the bullpen. I’m not sure how that’s going to shake out, but someone will (possibly) emerge from the group.
Two other missing players I’m sure you’re wondering about are Yaisel Sierra and Yadier Alvarez. It was originally thought Sierra might go to Triple-A to begin, but he and Alvarez are going to remain in Glendale for extended spring training. When ready, I’m guessing Sierra will get an assignment to Double- or Triple-A. The Dodgers still want to develop him as a starter, but he might focus on being a reliever this season in hopes of helping the MLB club later in the season. I’m not sure where Alvarez, 20, will go. He’s too old for the Arizona Rookie and Dominican Summer Leagues, so I’d like to see the Dodgers send him to Great Lakes (with him skipping Ogden all together). He’s working on being more consistent with his off-speed stuff and acclimating to life on- and off-the-field.
The Loons start things off at 4 p.m., with the OKC Dodgers starting at 4:35, the Drillers at 5:05 and the Quakes at 7:05. Oh, and there is day Dodger baseball in just a bit. The 2016 season is now officially in full swing.