While these guys didn’t crack the Top 30, there are a couple I’m really high on and hope they can perform well in 2017. If they do, they will, easily, be in the Top 30 next year — or maybe even higher.
Previous entries in the series:
A couple of these guys have dropped from last season, while a couple of them were impressive at the lower levels. It wouldn’t surprise me to see two or three players from here play in the majors at some point during their respective careers.
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.
40. OF Jacob Scavuzzo (6’4, 185 pounds, 23 years old)
The Dodgers popped Scavuzzo in the 21st round of the 2012 MLB Draft and got him to agree to a deal. After a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League following the 2015 season (.377/.389/.623 in 72 plate appearances), he spent all of 2016 in Tulsa. He was exposed a bit by Texas League pitchers, hitting just .266/.318/.397 in 459 plate appearances. What was most disappointing was the lack of power he showed (.131 ISO). Scavuzzo has performed well in hitter-friendly leagues (Pioneer, California), but has struggled in more pitcher-friendly/neutral leagues (Midwest, Texas).
He still employs a straight up-and-down stance with his hands at about shoulder level. He has a big leg kick that helps him generate above-average raw power, but it hasn’t translated to game action. What power he has is to the pull side (just four opposite-field home runs in the last two seasons). It’s too bad because he has solid-average bat speed and the ability to make loud contact. Where he struggles is with plate discipline and pitch recognition. His low walk rate, higher-than-average strikeout rate and low power output won’t play well in the majors (if he makes it there).
Despite being athletic, he doesn’t have great speed, but it’s better underway. Still, he isn’t a burner by any standard. That limits him, defensively, to left field. He has dabbled in center field, but most of that time came prior to the 2015 season. His arm isn’t strong enough for right field, but he’s capable of making routine plays in either corner. He could be called upon to play center field in a pinch, but that’d be about it. He also played first base in the AFL for all of nine innings, so (I guess) that’s also a possibility, but that won’t enhance his defensive value.
Scavuzzo could go back to Tulsa for a refresher, but it depends who is projected to be in Triple-A. Playing frequently in Double-A would be preferable to being a part-time player in Triple-A. He could be a fourth- or fifth outfielder on a second-division team, but he doesn’t have a big platoon split to be a “lefty masher” kind of player. Odds are, he’ll be an up-and-down guy, if he hangs around the game that long.
2016 rank: 21
2017 location: Double-A Tulsa/Triple-A Oklahoma City
39. 1B/LF Ibandel Isabel (6’4, 225 pounds, 22 years old)
A nice find out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Isabel has performed relatively well in his first three professional seasons. In 2016, he split time between Ogden and Great Lakes, and he posted a .317/.396/.579 triple slash with 12 home runs. It wasn’t all Ogden-aided production, as he slashed .273/.347/.591 with the Loons. It was just 98 plate appearances and he struck out in almost 42 percent of those PAs, but the power is real.
A large right-handed hitter, Isabel has a slightly open stance and holds his hands at shoulder level with a little bit of a bat wiggle toward the pitcher that quiets before the pitch is delivered. He has a big leg kick and brings his hands down to chest level before rotating them back and then forward with the swing. One has to be strong to get away with that. The bat comes through the strike zone relatively level and Isabel has above-average bat speed. His swing can get a bit long, but his power is to all fields. He likes to get his arms extended and routinely sends hard-hit balls to center/right-center field. But much like Scavuzzo, he’s a free-swinger who doesn’t have the best pitch recognition. He has struck out in more than 30 percent of his professional plate appearances. Since he walks at a better rate and has more power, it isn’t as detrimental, but he’s also likely to be exposed as he moves up the minor-league ladder if he doesn’t make some adjustments. If he can make those adjustments without sacrificing power, the Dodgers might have a legit prospect in Isabel.
On defense, he profiles as a first baseman who can play left field in a pinch. But he didn’t play any left field in 2016, so perhaps the Dodgers have given up on the idea of Isabel playing a corner outfield spot. At first, he projects to be average with the big strides he made from ’15 to ’16. He’s a below-average runner who won’t get any faster as he gets older. Isabel has a lot of raw power, but also a lot of swing-and-miss. If he makes the necessary adjustments, he could be a second-division player at the MLB level, but he needs to show he hasn’t just been beating up on younger competition in his first three seasons. He might go back to Great Lakes, but he will see Rancho Cucamonga at some point, and that could be big fun for Quakes’ fans.
2016 ranking: 97
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
38. OF Cody Thomas (6’4, 211 pounds, 22 years old)
Thomas was taken in the 13th round of the 2016 draft and given an above-slot $300,000 signing bonus. He hit well in his professional debut: .297/.382/.621 with 19 home runs, but he did so as a college draftee in the Arizona Rookie League (28 plate appearances) and the Pioneer League (239 plate appearances). He also had a 32.6 percent strikeout rate, so his approach needs a ton of work. We’ve seen college hitters dominate rookie ball before being exposed at the higher levels, but it’s never a bad idea to bet on athleticism, and Thomas has that in spades.
The left-handed hitter is extremely raw after playing football at the University of Oklahoma. With his athletic build, he has a chance for above-average power, but his swing can get long and drag through the hitting zone. Thomas has a straight up-and-down stance with his hands at ear level. He employs a significant leg kick that helps him generate his power. His bat speed is a tick better than average and the swing path is generally level (for a lefty). He actually has decent plate discipline, but he gets overly aggressive at times when trying to hit the ball out. In his debut, his power was to all fields, but that could also have been aided by the hitter-friendly environments. Also, left-handers proved difficult for him, so that’s something to watch as he progresses through the system.
On defense, Thomas has an above-average arm, as he was a quarterback at Oklahoma. He is plenty athletic to handle either corner and even center field. That helps his stock a bit. He also can run a bit, but it’s better for his outfield defense and going 1st-to-3rd rather than stealing bases. His absolute ceiling is that of an Andre Ethier who can actually play center field. His struggles against lefties will probably keep him from even being a second-division starter. He could be the left-handed portion of a platoon, but his swing-and-miss rate could ultimately keep him from reaching the majors. He’ll be tested in Midland, as most college draftees who rip through the rookie leagues often do. If he handles it well, his prospect status could take a big jump forward in 2018.
2016 rank: NR
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes
37. SS Erick Mejia (5’11, 155 pounds, 22 years old)
The Dodgers acquired Mejia from the Mariners last spring for Joe Wieland. While he’s not a high-ceiling prospect, he might end up being somewhat useful to the organization. He spent all of 2016 with Rancho Cucamonga and had his best offensive season to date: .287/.343/.393 with 12 triples and 24 stolen bases. Some of that could have been league-aided, but Mejia’s game isn’t tailored to hitting the ball in the air, as evidenced by his .359 BABIP.
Mejia is a switch-hitter who slaps the ball all over the field. He doesn’t have much power projection, but he can sting a line drive relatively frequently. From the left side, he has a wide base with his legs more than shoulder-width apart and his hands up by his left ear. He has a big leg kick, which is somewhat surprising for a smaller guy. It’s not a big load, but he’s able to generate decent bat speed and has a level swing through the zone. He’s a free-swinger who has some trouble with pitch recognition. He tries not to get into bad counts by swinging early, but he still struck out 110 times in 558 plate appearances.
Defensively, he has the look of a natural shortstop. Sometimes his footwork isn’t great, but he makes up for it with plus-arm strength. His accuracy needs some work and his hands aren’t as soft as they should be, so he might ultimately end up as a super utility player. His defensive skills would actually play up at second base, but he’d lose a lot of value if he didn’t play a lot of shortstop. He’s one of the best runners in the organization. While he stole 24 bases, he was also caught 15 times, and his speed is better used underway. In a game I saw, he made it from home to third in 11.09 seconds on a triple. Mejia is a long-strider who should be able to utilize his speed in his offensive game.
He’ll move up to Double-A and face a big test against advanced pitching. If he can hold his own offensively, he should be able to make it to the majors as a utility player. If not, he could be a classic Quad-A player. He should be the Drillers’ starting shortstop in 2017.
2016 rank: 53
2017 location: Double-A Tulsa
36. RHP A.J. Alexy (6’4, 195 pounds, 19 years old)
The Dodgers liked Alexy enough to give him a $600,000 signing bonus as an 11th-round draft pick. He joins former players the Dodgers have spent big money on in the 11th round: Nathan Eovaldi (2009, $250,000), Joc Pederson (2010, $600,000), Spencer Navin (2013, $300,000) and Imani Abdullah (2015, $647,500). The prep hurler threw 13 2/3 innings in his pro debut for the AZL Dodgers and got knocked around a little bit (4.61 ERA, 5.15 FIP, 1.3 HR/9), but he also showed some of the ability the Dodgers saw when they gave him that signing bonus (20.7 K%, 5.2 BB%).
Alexy isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but he’s highly projectable with a solid frame and wide shoulders. He could add some good weight and tap into some velocity the Dodgers believe is still there. He owns a fastball that sits in the 88-92 MPH range. Some believe his fastball velo could tick up as he matures physically and gets professional instruction. It has a little sink to it, but it won’t be mistaken for a plus-sinker by any means. His primary offspeed pitch is a sharp breaking curveball in the mid-70s that has flashed above-average potential. He can also slow it down a couple ticks and put more loop in it. Alexy also has a high-70s to low-80s changeup that he can locate low in the strike zone, but it doesn’t profile as a swing-and-miss offering.
He stands on the first base side of the pitching rubber with his hands at chest level. He has a pretty typical windup and delivery, but it’s also really clean and pretty quick from the stretch. Because it’s clean, there’s a chance to add some velocity and minimize injury as much as possible. He doesn’t incorporate his lower body as much as he could, but it all works for him. He releases his pitches from a high three-quarters arm slot that is almost over-the-top.
Alexy has the potential to be a middle of the rotation starter if he refines his changeup and adds some velocity. He has good pitchability already, but if he doesn’t have three solid pitches, he might end up in the bullpen. Since he had such a limited pro debut, he could go back to the AZL for a refresher before making the jump to the Pioneer League. He’s one to watch in the next few years.
2016 rank: NR
2017 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
35. LHP Leonardo Crawford (6’0, 180 pounds, 20 years old)
An almost $50,000 signing out of Nicaragua in 2014, Crawford has done nothing but produce since turning pro. In 2016 between the AZL and Midwest League, he had a 2.42 ERA, 23.6 K%, 6.0 BB% and allowed just four home runs in 67 innings pitched. He’s similar to Jairo Pacheco was a couple years ago (who has dropped into the 90s after topping out at 28 in the 2015 Top 100). So, there’s definite risk involved here as he moves up the minor-league ladder, but the early returns are strong.
Crawford gets a lot out of his smallish frame on the mound. The southpaw owns a fastball that sits in the 88-92 MPH range. It features a little glove-side run that acts almost like a cutter to lefties. He does a good job commanding the pitch to both sides of the plate. He backs up his fastball with a slurvy breaking pitch in the high-70s. It has some swing-and-miss potential, but he’ll need to do a better job differentiating it from a curveball and a slider. He’ll also need to add more depth to it. His changeup is a low-80s pitch that he has developed since turning pro. It has good fade to righties and he isn’t afraid to throw it to left-handed hitters.
His delivery starts off conventional enough, with his feet about shoulder-width apart and to the third base side of the rubber. When he steps off with his right foot, he turns quickly on the mound and puts his right foot back down briefly as to try to throw the hitter’s timing off. He can also rush that part in hopes of further throwing the hitter off. He has a high leg kick and and kind of slingshots the pitch toward the plate. The ball comes out of his hand at a three-quarters arm slot that helps him get some extra movement on his offerings. He’s also quite mature for his age, and it shows with his pitchability.
Because of his frame, Crawford might ultimately end up in the bullpen because it isn’t yet known if he can handle the rigors of a starter’s workload. If he doesn’t, you could squint really hard and see a low-end No. 3 starter, like a Jorge De La Rosa-type pitcher. If he ends up in the ‘pen, he could be a swingman or situational lefty (.533 OPS against lefties in 2016). He might go back to Great Lakes for a little more work, but he was so good in his full-season-ball debut that he might just go straight to Rancho. Either way, 2017 will be a big test for him. If he handles the Cal League well enough, he might establish himself as the next really good left-handed pitching prospect in the system.
2016 rank: 50
2017 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
34. RHP Scott Barlow (6’3, 170 pounds, 24 years old)
Barlow is about the last man standing from their disastrous 2011 draft. The Dodgers popped him in the sixth round and missed the 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery. He spent all of 2016 in Tulsa and handled himself relatively well: 3.98 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 18.5 K% and allowed just nine home runs in 124 1/3 innings. While he improved his walk rate a bit (9.5 percent), he didn’t miss as many bats, which may ultimately limit him to bullpen duty.
His low-90s fastball is generally straight. It can get up to the mid-90s, and might sit there if he has to move to the bullpen. He also has a power curveball in the mid-to-high-70s. He’ll throw it in any count and is his best pitch. His slider took a step back in 2016 and his changeup didn’t step forward. He was roughed up by lefties in the Texas League (.841 OPS), but he was respectable against righties (.664 OPS).
Barlow’s high three-quarters release slot doesn’t do him any favors in terms of getting run on his pitches, but it works for him. He has good arm speed and he can stay on top of his pitches. He looks like he might have some projection left, but he’s had the same frame since he was drafted. It’s safe to say he isn’t going to add any velo while in the rotation. Otherwise, his delivery is clean and repeatable.
He has started 77 of his 83 career appearances, so it isn’t foreign to him. But he projects as a fringy back-end starter who isn’t exactly the workhorse-type. A move to the bullpen could increase his chances of breaking through to the majors, especially since he’s solid against righties and has a legit swing-and-miss pitch in his curveball. Until that time, he’ll start in Triple-A and is on a very long list of potential Dodger starters in 2017.
2016 rank: 25
2017 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City
33. RHP Dennis Santana (6’2, 160 pounds, 21 years old)
Santana was originally signed out of the Dominican as a shortstop. After a failed offensive season in the field in 2013, he moved to the mound. So far, the move has worked. He made his full-season debut in 2016 and posted some solid numbers in Great Lakes: 3.07 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 26.4 K% and a 55 percent ground ball rate in 111 2/3 innings. Not bad for a 20-year-old in his first work above Rookie ball. One thing to watch is his walk rate, which was 11.9 percent. While he has good stuff, his command/control is going to need work.
His best pitch is a heavy fastball that features a lot of natural arm-side run and potential plus-plus sink. It’s a pitch that sits in the low-90s and touches 94 MPH. Santana gets so much movement on the pitch that it’s difficult for him to control at times. The fastball can tail too far over the plate and into the hitting zone, but when he keeps it down and on the corners, it’s a nasty offering. His slider has flashed plus-potential with a sharp 10-4 break and good depth. It’s a low-to-mid-80s pitch. He also has a curveball that has a 12-6 break and sits in the mid-70s. It’s a good change-of-pace pitch from his hard slider. He also has a changeup that has flashed average, but is still too inconsistent for it to be more than a “show me” pitch at this rate.
What will determine Santana’s future is his command. It’s currently fringy, bordering on below-average. His delivery is, as Vin Scully would say, “all elbows and kneecaps.” As a lanky kid, it’s easy to see. From the wind-up, he stands with his feet close together and glove at face-level before he begins his delivery. He rocks back and lifts his hands over and behind his head. Because there are a lot of moving parts, it isn’t easy for him to repeat his release point. He does a quick turn with his feet before lifting his leg high, and he delivers his pitches from three-quarters arm slot that allows him to get some run on his offerings. He also has a slide-step he’ll utilize from the stretch. The arm strength and talent are present, and it’s easy to see why the Dodgers moved him to the mound.
His talent is apparent. One could see him harnessing everything and becoming a mid-rotation starter who can not only miss bats but get plenty of grounders. Then again, he could struggle with his command and not develop a consistent enough third and/or fourth pitch and end up in the bullpen (if not out of baseball all together). He was hell on rigthies last season (.540 OPS), but he also held his own against lefties (.641 OPS). If the Dodgers can clean up his delivery and get it to be a little more repeatable, he could reach his ceiling. A trip to Rancho will test him and his ability to command his sinker. If he has good peripherals and is able to keep the ball in the yard, his 2018 trip to Tulsa will be quite interesting.
2016 rank: 66
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
32. C/3B Kyle Farmer (6’0, 205 pounds, 26 years old)
A shortstop at the University of Georgia, the Dodgers drafted Farmer in the eighth round of the 2013 draft. They gave him $40,000 and he moved behind the plate. Offensively, he hasn’t gotten fully on track in pro ball. His 2016 was a bit of a step back from 2015: .258/.324/.410. He missed part of the season with a broken right wrist suffered at the end of May. Before the injury, he was hitting .296/.342/.465, so there’s still some hope for his bat. But his ability behind the plate is what’s going to get him on an MLB roster.
Farmer is solidly built, but he doesn’t have much discernible power. His ISO went up a bit, but it was thanks (in part) to a 4-game stint in the AZL. In Double-A, he had a .139 ISO, and that appears to be his max. The power is more of the gap variety than the over-the-fence variety. He’s a contact-oriented hitter who has a short, compact swing. It helps to limit his strikeouts and gives him a strong contact rate. He doesn’t walk much, so any offensive upside is going to have to come from his bat. Like most contact hitters, he has an up-the-middle philosophy and isn’t afraid to go the other way with a pitch. He lacks pure bat speed and strength to be a difference-maker at the plate.
Defensively, he has played some third base, which comes somewhat naturally because he’s a former infielder. If nothing else, it makes him a little versatile. But behind the plate, Farmer might be the best catcher in system. He has really taken to the position since being converted. His arm is plenty strong and his game-calling and handling of a pitching staff has improved since being drafted. As a runner, he has more speed than your average catcher, but he won’t swipe a ton of bases. He’s definitely not your prototypical catcher in that regard.
His ceiling is as a second-division starter, but that would involve him becoming a more consistent hitter and developing a little pop. Realistically, he’s a decent backup catcher who is unexciting but consistent. He’ll go to OKC and could see the majors at some point as he’s the third catcher on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.
2016 rank: 29
2017 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
31. RHP Joe Broussard (6’1, 220 pounds, 26 years old)
Broussard was the Dodgers’ 15th-round pick in the 2014 draft out of LSU. He wasn’t really thought that highly of, but his 2016 put him on the prospect map. He pitched across three levels of the minors and posted a 1.80 ERA, 29.3 K%, 5.8 BB% and allowed just three home runs in 70 innings. His performance earned him a spot in the Arizona Fall League.
A true power reliever, Broussard has a low-90s fastball that routinely touches the mid-90s. It doesn’t have a ton of movement, but the plus-velocity plays well. He backs it up with a mid-80s slider that helps him get swinging strikes. It has a sharp 11-5 break.
His delivery is high-effort. From the wind-up, Broussard stands in the middle of the rubber with his feet close together and his glove covering his face. His delivery starts normally, but when he turns, he employs a high leg kick and brings his hands down before separating the ball from his glove. He shows the ball early way behind his head before slinging it toward the plate. He has the arm speed to make up for the drag, but as a Tommy John guy from college, that may not be the best mechanic for his elbow. It’s a long motion to get the ball to the plate and he doesn’t incorporate his lower-half as much. Still, he has been quite good with his command/control in his pro career.
While he’s listed at 220, he appears to be a bit heavier than that, so conditioning could be an issue going forward. As a short reliever, though, he could thrive with fastball-slider combination. He might not be a closer or late-inning guy, but he should be at least a middle reliever in the majors. He posted reverse platoon splits in 2016 (.447 OPS vs. lefties, .649 vs. righties). He’ll go to OKC for a full season of work. Although he isn’t in the 40-man roster, he could see some time in the majors if the approximately 9,415 relievers ahead of him don’t perform or are injured.
2016 rank: 63
2017 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City
Next up: Prospects 30-21