2017 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: No. 75-51

Brandon Trinkwon (Photo: Dustin Nosler)

Here is the next set of rankings in my Top 100 series. Some of these names should be more familiar, especially if you’ve followed any of the rankings in previous years.

Previous entries in the series:

With Jose De Leon being traded to Tampa Bay, there was a vacancy in the rankings. So, I added a new No. 100 prospect and moved everyone in the 76-100 range up one spot (hence the second appearance for Kam Uter in the rankings). Here’s the brief write-up on Jose Chacin.

100. RHP Jose Chacin (6’4, 168 pounds, 20 years old)
Chacin was signed out of Venezuela in September of 2015. He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League and posted some good numbers: 1.71 ERA, 20.3 K%, 4.0 BB%, 2.27 FIP. That’s not hard to do in a pitcher-friendly “league” for a kid 2-3 years older than a lot of his competition. If you’re looking for positives, he missed bats and actually threw more than five innings per start. He also has some projectability in his wiry frame, meaning there could be some added fastball velocity with professional instruction. If he doesn’t make it stateside this season, though, he probably isn’t much of a prospect. He should at least get to the Arizona Rookie League, though.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: AZL Dodgers
ETA: 2021

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. For future entries in this series: 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.

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75. RHP Kam Uter (6’3, 200 pounds, 21 years old)
The Dodgers got Uter out of his football commitment to Wake Forest in 2014 for $200,000 as an 11th-round draft pick. He’s quite athletic, but he has thrown just 33 innings in his first three seasons and he hasn’t made it out of the Arizona Rookie League. While his command wavers a bit, he does miss a lot of bats (47 strikeouts in those 33 innings). Maybe this is the year he makes it to Ogden.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2022

74. OF Daniel Padilla (6’2, 175 pounds, 20 years old)
A good athlete, Padilla signed with the Dodgers out of Venezuela in July 2013 for $200,000. Unfortunately, he has yet to make it stateside after three professional seasons. In his three DSL seasons, he has a solid .285/.374/.350 triple slash and has used his speed as an asset. He hits two ground balls for every fly ball he hits, so the power potential just isn’t there with Padilla. He’s not that kind of hitter. He showed more on-base ability in his third season, but the numbers must be taken with a big grain of salt. He has played all three outfield positions, but might ultimately settle into right field because of a strong arm. It’s easy to dream on the athleticism and speed, but don’t expect much power out of him.
Best tool: Speed
2017 location: AZL Dodgers
ETA: 2022

73. RHP Chris Mathewson (6’1, 200 pounds, 21 years old)
The Dodgers popped Mathewson in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Long Beach State. He profiles as a relief pitcher with a fringe-average fastball that relies more on sink than pure velocity and a strong slider. He struck out (14) more than a batter per inning (12) in his debut, but he also gave up six (!) home runs. If he keeps the home runs in check and improve his command, he could move quickly.
Best tool: Slider
2017 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2021

72. 1B/OF Matt Jones (6’7, 250 pounds, 23 years old)
It’s easy to see why Jones, given his stature, has massive power potential. After posting a great ISO in Ogden in 2015, his power dipped considerably with Great Lakes in 2016. That’s not totally unsurprising, but it’s a bit disappointing. He did (try) to make up for it by increasing his walk rate by 9 percent, but his strikeout rate also rose in his first taste of full-season ball. He could mash at Rancho this season, but he needs to prove he can handle advanced pitching before becoming a legit prospect.
Best tool: Power
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2021

71. RHP Melvin Jimenez (6’0, 170 pounds, 17 years old)
The Dodgers signed Jimenez out of the Dominican Republic two days before Christmas in 2015. So far, the investment has been worth it. He was flat-out dominant in the Dominican Summer League, striking out 30.8 percent of the hitters he faced. He also had a 50 percent ground ball rate. But, most impressive, is the fact he didn’t allow a home run in 55 innings. Granted, power isn’t exactly plentiful in the DSL, but Jimenez kept the ball in the yard and missed bats. He’ll need to perform well outside of complex ball to have a chance of rocketing up the rankings. He’s probably not done growing at just 17 years old, which means there could be some projection left in him. Jimenez definitely a guy to watch going forward.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: AZL Dodgers
ETA: 2023

70. OF Devan Ahart (6’1, 175 pounds, 24 years old)
Ahart had been a productive minor-leaguer — perhaps even outplaying his talent — in his first two professional seasons. He played for Rancho and Tulsa in 2016 and didn’t perform particularly well. He was exposed a bit in Tulsa and was demoted after just 24 games and a .551 OPS. Coming into the season, he had a 0.76 BB/K rate. In 2016, that number plummeted to 0.39. Without a lot of power, plate discipline was going to be his best bet to be productive on offense. Defensively, he can play center field in a pinch, but fits much better in left field because of a fringy arm.
Best tool: Defense
2017 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2019

69. RHP Adam Bray (6’3, 210 pounds, 24 years old)
A 33rd-rounder in 2015, Bray has displayed impeccable command of his pitches in his first two professional seasons. He has walked just 15 batters in 109 innings. He has also struck out a quarter of the batters who have come up to hit against him. But that command comes with a home run that is a bit too high. There is a thing as being too hittable. Bray’s stuff isn’t great, but he does have high pitchability. That should get him to the higher levels of the minors, but it remains to be seen if it gets him to the majors.
Best tool: Command/Control
2017 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2019

68. RHP Kyle Hooper (6’4, 195 pounds, 26 years old)
Hooper seems like the fungible-type of reliever who hangs around the game for awhile without ever really standing out for one reason or another. He has swing-and-miss stuff with a fastball in the low-to-mid-90s and a slider in the low-80s. His command needs some work, but he could be a late-bloomer type as he’s already 26.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2018

67. LHP Michael Boyle (6’3, 200 pounds, 23 years old)
The Dodgers drafted Boyle in the 13th round in 2015 and he has been productive in his first couple of seasons. He was a productive starter with the Loons to the tune of a 2.81 ERA (3.44 FIP) and allowed just three home runs in almost 100 innings of work. A late-season promotion to Rancho Cucamonga proved more challenging, as Boyle had a 5.55 ERA (5.20 FIP) and allowed seven home runs in 35 2/3 innings. Interesting note: All his home runs allowed were to right-handed hitters. His stuff isn’t great (high-80s fastball that touches the low-90s, slurve, changeup), but he gets some movement on his pitches. Despite starting 34 of his 41 minor-league games, he profiles as a reliever at the next level. The California League will be a big test for him.
Best tool: Delivery
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2019

66. 3B Jared Walker (6’2, 195 pounds, 21 years old)
Walker was primed for a breakout 2016 season, but it never came. The 2014 5th-rounder was limited to just 154 plate appearances (mostly with Ogden) and posted an underwhelming .231/.320/.396 triple slash. He has shown at least an average hit tool and average power, but has yet to display it in-game. Defensively, he can probably stick at third base, but if he has to move to a corner, he’s athletic and has enough arm to handle right field. He’ll need to show some improvement if he’s to move (back) up the rankings.
Best tool: Arm
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2021

65. RHP Karch Kowalczyk (6’1, 215 pounds, 26 years old)
Kowalczyk is much like his teammate Kyle Hooper in the sense that they’re both reliever prospects with good fastballs and sliders. Kowalczyk has worse command than Hooper but better velocity and a sharper slider. Unfortunately, he saw his K-rate drop considerably when being promoted to Rancho. He’ll need to rediscover his strikeout stuff if he’s to be successful going forward.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2019

64. LHP Francis Cespedes (6’4, 185 pounds, 22 years old)
Cespedes was signed on June 4 after being released by the Rangers (for reasons unknown). He was signed out of the Dominican by Texas for $750,000 in June 2013. He didn’t throw a professional pitch until 2016, and that was as a member of the Dodgers’ organization. He looks the part on the hill with a solid frame that has room to add some bulk. His fastball is a legitimate mid-90s pitch and his changeup has flashed plus-plus. His delivery is relatively clean, but he has major command issues. He walked 13 hitters in 14 1/3 innings in the AZL (and gave up 19 hits and 21 runs). What’s crazy is of the 43 outs he recorded, 27 (!) of them were via the strikeout. He’s clearly too advanced for complex ball, but his command is not yet advanced for full-season ball. He’s a definite wild card in this system. Oh, and Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs said there are questions about his age. Fun stuff!
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2022

63. 2B/SS Brandon Trinkwon (6’1, 170 pounds, 25 years old)
Trinkwon dropped from last year’s rankings from the Top 50 to here. He had a second go-around with Rancho after not hitting much with Tulsa (.226/.306/.307). His versatility and baseball IQ will keep him hanging around for a bit, but if he ever wants to make it to the majors, he’ll need to be a better offensive player. His defense is fine, but it isn’t like he has an 80-grade glove that will carry him to the bigs. He’s an up-and-down, 25th-man-on-the-roster player, if he hits enough.
Best tool: Defense
2017 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2018

62. RHP Nolan Long (6’10, 255 pounds, 23 years old)
The Dodgers’ 16th-rounder in 2015, Long has not been as good as I expected him to be to this point. Despite his stature, he isn’t overpowering with his stuff (a la Chris Young), with his fastball working anywhere from the high-80s to the low-90s. His curveball and changeup are works in progress, but have also flashed at least average potential to this point. He has yet to put it all together over the course of a season, but the talent and ability are present. He’s athletic, despite his size, as he was a 2-sport star in college. His command needs some work, which could be at the core of his issues thus far.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2020

61. 2B/SS/3B Jefrey Souffront (6’1, 190 pounds, 20 years old)
Souffront was signed out of the Dominican in July 2015 for $60,000. The versatile infielder has also hit a little in his first two seasons, though, he hasn’t displayed much in the way of plate discipline (7.1 BB%, 26.8 K%). But, he has added some muscle since turning pro and showed a little power surge in the Arizona Rookie League last season (which needs to be taken with a grain of salt, obviously). He has a quiet setup and compact swing. It isn’t a terribly quick bat, but he has the makings of a decent hitter. He’s a long way off, though. Defensively, he’s probably more of a second- or third baseman than a shortstop, especially if he ends up adding some more bulk. He was No. 100 on last year’s list.
Best tool: Power
2017 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2023

60. RHP Corey Copping (6’1, 175 pounds, 23 years old)
Copping was the Dodgers’ 31st-round pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Oklahoma. His fastball sat in the high-80s following 2016 spring training. The Dodgers sent him (and David Reid-Foley, who did not make this list) to train with Driveline Baseball. After training, Copping’s fastball velocity sat in the 92-94 MPH range and made him a more viable relief prospect. In the Arizona Fall League, he was in the 91-93 MPH range with a chance to add velocity due to an easy delivery. His command improved a bit when he jumped from Ogden to Rancho Cucamonga. In his 44 career innings, he has almost a 30 percent strikeout rate. Granted it’s the low-minors, but it would be an elite number in the majors. He pairs his fastball with a curveball that has an 11-5 shape and some potential.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2019

59. RHP Gavin Pittore (6’3, 230 pounds, 23 years old)
Pittore was an undrafted free agent who received a $105,500 signing bonus in August of 2015. Since signing, Pittore has been pretty good. He spent most of 2016 at Great Lakes, where he posted a 1.94 ERA (2.90 FIP) and a 24.6 percent strikeout rate. That accompanied a solid 7.7 percent walk rate. A late-season promotion to Rancho saw him strike out 13 hitters in 12 2/3 innings. In his 77 career innings, he has allowed just one home run. His fastball gets some sink and sits in the 92-94 MPH range. He pairs it with a solid breaking ball. He could move quickly if he handles advanced hitting well.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2020

58. LHP Devin Smeltzer (6’3, 185 pounds, 21 years old)
The Dodgers popped Smeltzer in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Being a lefty specialist prospect, he was still able to get an over-slot signing bonus of $497,500. He has a deceptive delivery that helps his stuff play up. His fastball sits in the high-80s with good movement. He backs it up with slurvy slider that shows some swing-and-miss ability and a changeup that might be his best overall pitch. It features good fade and he throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. He needs to improve his command, but he could move quickly. He isn’t dissimilar to former Dodger Paco Rodriguez, minus the funky delivery.
Best tool: Changeup
2017 location: Rookie Ogden/Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2020

57. 3B Cristian Santana (6’2, 175 pounds, 20 years old)
Say hello to the Dodger prospect with the funkiest swing in the system. They signed Santana out of the Dominican in June of 2014. After two seasons in the DSL, he made it stateside at age-19 and exhibted some power. It must be taken with a grain of salt as it’s the AZL and the ball flies there.  He begins with an open stance that he closes as the pitch is being delivered. He kicks his leg toward the pitcher and drops his hands to about stomach-level and points the bat toward the third base dugout. He clears his hips and shows above-average bat speed that helps him generate good raw power. The setup/swing will be ironed out with instruction, as it isn’t conducive to long-term success at the upper levels of the minors (or majors). But the approach is basically “swing at everything,” so that’s also going to need to change. He’s a sleeper because of his athleticism, power potential and solid defensive tools and strong arm at third base.
Best tool: Power
2017 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2022

56. RHP MJ Villegas (6’2, 190 pounds, 22 years old)
The Dodgers’ 23rd-rounder in 2013, Villegas is a lot like Uter in the sense that he’s talented but hasn’t thrown a lot many innings and hasn’t done so as a starting pitcher. He has logged just 71 2/3 innings in his first three pro seasons. While he has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, his walk rate is a perfectly “fine” 8.8 percent. He saw production dip in his second trip to Ogden. This is a make-or-break year for the talented pitcher. He still has a low-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup that he’ll probably use sparingly in a relief role.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2020

56. LHP Victor Gonzalez (6’0, 180 pounds, 21 years old)
A familiar name who has appeared as high as No. 19 in my rankings and No. 57 last year, Gonzalez has fallen in the ranking over the last couple years. He was signed out of Mexico in 2012 with other prospects, including catcher Julian Leon (No. 95) and right-handed pitcher Lenix Osuna. Gonzalez sits in the 89-92 MPH range from the left side with a changeup that has flashed plus, and he also has a fringy slider that isn’t terribly reliable at present. While he has primarily been a starter through his MiLB career, he might very well end up in the bullpen. His command took a step back in his second stint with Great Lakes, and he’ll need regain it if he’s going to make it through the California League.
Best tool: Changeup
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2020

55. OF/1B Romer Cuadrado (6’4, 185 pounds, 19 years old)
Cuadrado was the Dodgers’ most expensive amateur signing of the 2014-15 signing period, with the team giving him $750,000 as a 16-year-old out of the Venezuela. He made it stateside for his age-18 season and showed a little bit that might justify the three-quarters of a million dollar bonus. He has generates plus-raw power from the right side with a big leg kick and open stance. His swing is a bit long and he doesn’t have great bat speed, but with his frame, it’s easy to dream on him adding some bulk and getting to his power in-game. He played all three outfield positions, but some evaulators think he might have to move to first base at some point. He’s a below-average runner.
Best tool: Power
2017 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2022

54. 3B Mike Ahmed (6’2, 195 pounds, 25 years old)
Ahmed is the brother of Diamondbacks’ shortstop Nick Ahmed. The Dodgers drafted him in the 20th round of the 2013 draft. He has steadily gotten better in his pro career and has settled in at third base. He projects as at least an average defender at the position, wtih a chance to be above-average thanks to good actions and a solid arm (not dissimilar from his brother, who is a good defensive shortstop). Offensively, he broke out, especially in the power department with a .218 ISO. His previous high had been .101, so it’s safe to say he got the Cal League bump. Ahmed does have good plate discipline, but not the best strike zone coverage. He doesn’t have enough bat to be a third base-only guy, so he’ll need to improve at the other infield positions is he’s to reach the majors at some point.
Best tool: Defense
2017 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2019

53. SS Errol Robinson (6’0, 180 pounds, 22 years old)
The Dodgers used a lot of their picks in the 2016 draft in rounds 3-10 on athletic players, and Robinson is one of those guys. A true shortstop, Robinson showed a little on-base ability, some bat control and speed in his pro debut with Ogden. He doesn’t have much in the way of power, but he’ll tag a liner into the gap every once in awhile. His calling card is his glove, which projects to be at least average. He might make it to the majors as a light-hitting, speedy utility player. But if he can be a 50-55 with the glove at shortstop, that will make him a little more valuable as a prospect.
Best tool: Defense
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2021

52. RHP Angel German (6’4, 185 pounds, 21 years old)
The Dodgers signed him for $75,000 out of the Dominican in 2013. In his first taste of full-season ball, he got hit really hard. With Great Lakes, he had a 7.45 ERA, 6.22 FIP and an extremely poor 4.4 K-BB%. This is surprising for a guy who touched 100 MPH in the AZL in the previous season. Well, German saw his stuff back up a bit in 2016. He’s now more of a low-90s pitcher who touches the mid-90s. He pairs it with a slider that has flashed plus, but not often enough to get really excited about. Because he showed some ability the previous season, it’s hard to think he won’t get back to it, at least on some level. Maybe he was hurt, maybe his mechancis were out of whack — whatever the reason, there is still big potential in his right arm. Maybe a new pitching coach could help.
Best tool: Fastball
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2020

51. 2B Brandon Montgomery (6’0, 180 pounds, 21 years old)
A 26th-rounder in 2016, Montgomery had one of (if not the) best pro debuts of any Dodger draftee. He had 28 extra base hits (10 doubles, 10 triples, 8 homers) in 258 plate appearances between the AZL and Ogden. He also slashed .336/.385/.569 and stole 14 bases. If prospect rankings were based off numbers, he’d be a Top 5 guy. But, he isn’t that good. Instead, he has the look of a utilty player with a little bit of bat. He played mostly second base but also dabbled at shortstop, third base and center field. He’s a younger version of Tim Locastro with a little more potential. He’ll be tested in Midland, where rookie-league prospects’ bats go to die.
Best tool: Hit
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2021

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Next up: Prospects 50-41

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.