2019 Top 100 Dodgers Prospects: 30-21

Cristian Santana (Photo: Dustin Nosler)

We’ve finally reached the Top 30. There are plenty of familiar names here, plus some who had strong 2018 seasons to warrant inclusion here.

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Previously

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I’ve included Future Value (FV) grades and risks for the Top 50 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 usually older, have debuted, are relievers and/or have higher floors than ceilings
  • Medium: Players who are a mix of younger and older, 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

This is to show what value a player might provide at the MLB level. The higher the risk, the less likely a player will reach that ceiling.

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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 I observe/obtain to the people. 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 and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

Other notes: “Role” is a realistic future role (slightly optimistic in some cases). Age is the 2019 season age for the player (June 30 is the cutoff date).

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30. 3B Cristian Santana

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’2 211 22 Power IFA: Dominican, April ’14 Average starting 3B Double-A Tulsa 2021

Strengths

  • Easy above-average raw power
  • Good defender at third base; strong arm
  • Good bat speed

Weaknesses

  • Free-swinger; low walk rate
  • Struggles against LHP
  • Pitch recognition lacking

Summary

The Dodgers signed Santana for $50,000 out of the Dominican in what looks like a good investment to date. He has cleaned up his swing mechanics since turning pro and looks the part at the plate. He makes loud contact and he has above-average raw power thanks to premium bat speed. The problem is, it comes with a fair amount of swing and miss because he swings at literally everything. The other main issue at the plate is that he doesn’t draw walks. He has 58 walks in 1,349 plate appearances as a pro, and he had just 20 last season with Rancho Cucamonga. It could lead to him getting exposed in the higher levels of the minors. He doesn’t need to be Joey Votto reincarnate up there, but he’ll have to be a bit more patient if he’s to have success at the MLB level.

Defensively, Santana has a solid glove/arm at third base. He played a lot of first base last season, but that’s because the Dodgers like their minor-leagues to have versatility and the fact the Quakes had Rylan Bannon manning the hot corner for a good portion of last season (before he was sent to Baltimore in the Manny Machado deal). His future is at third base. He’s a below-average runner, but he’s better on the base paths than, say, as a base stealer.

Santana has the look of a future MLBer, but his bat will determine if he ever gets there. If he can gain a little patience while maintaining his above-average power, he could be a 1st-division starting third baseman.

Tools Now Future
Hit 35 45
Power 45 55
Speed 40 45
Defense 50 55
Arm 55 60
FV/Risk 50 High

29. IF Jared Walker

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’2 195 23 Power 5th round, ’14 Non-SS utility IF Double-A Tulsa 2021

Strengths

  • Power improved in ’18
  • Added 2B to his defensive profile
  • Can draw a walk

Weaknesses

  • Struggles against LHP
  • Has some swing-and-miss
  • Not overly athletic

Summary

Walker took a big step forward in 2018, finally putting it all together across two levels of the minors. The infielder showed a lot of power at both Low- and High-A, and it wasn’t all league-aided power. The left-handed swinger struggles against southpaws, so don’t expect much in the way of power against them. He got more elevation on his batted balls in 2018 by altering his swing slightly. He began doing that late in the 2017 season, but it really paid of in ’18. He makes solid contact, but the new swing path comes with a little more swing-and-miss. That’s something he’ll have to monitor and potentially alter as he faces advanced competition.

On defense, Walker has experience at first, second and third base. He was drafted as a third baseman, dabbled at second base and ended up mostly at first base in ’18. He’s not overly athletic or agile, so the corners might be his best friend. His defensive profile isn’t that dissimilar to Max Muncy‘s at this rate. We’ll see if he can even get to that level and hit anywhere near Muncy levels. He’s a below-average runner, but he has solid instincts on the bases.

Double-A will be a big test for him. At best, he the left-handed portion of a platoon with above-average power and plate discipline. Think like 2018 Joc Pederson, with a little less power and a little more swing-and-miss.

Tools Now Future
Hit 40 45
Power 45 55
Speed 45 40
Defense 40 45
Arm 45 45
FV/Risk 45 High

28. RHP Marshall Kasowski

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’3 215 24 Fastball 13th round, ’17 7th/8th inning Double-A Tulsa 2019

Strengths

  • Premium fastball velo (92-95 MPH, t97) with rise
  • Hard to hit (4.2 H/9 in ’18)
  • Deceptive delivery

Weaknesses

  • Off-speed pitches (slider/changeup) lagging far behind
  • Command/control issues present (partially due to delivery)
  • Lack of upper-level experience

Summary

Kasowski was an unheralded draft selection out of West Texas A&M. He signed for $125,000. It’s a miracle that he’s even here after being in a devastating auto accident in 2015. After logging just 11 1/3 innings in his debut year, Kasowski got up to 64 2/3 innings in 2018 that spanned three different levels. He ended the season with Double-A Tulsa and is on the fast track to the majors. He posted a 42.5 K% last season and a tidy 2.09 ERA. He has a bit of a command/control issue, as he walked 14.5 percent of the hitters he faced. That will be the biggest challenge for him going forward.

Kasowski works with a fastball that ranges in the 91-97 MPH range. It has some late movement — rise, specifically — because of his arm slot. It has a high spin rate and he gets a lot of swing-throughs up in the strike zone. He pairs it with a low-70s curveball that has a 12-6 break and a big velocity disparity from his fastball. It’s struggling to be an average pitch at this rate. He also has a low-80s changeup that he’s still messing around with. One of those pitches is going to have to take a step forward to keep advanced hitters off his fastball.

He has an over-the-top delivery that helps him get good downward plane on his pitches, and he has a quick arm that helps him generate velocity. Kasowski doesn’t have an overly athletic delivery, so what you see is what you get.

Kasowski’s fastball will get him through the minors and probably be somewhat successful in the majors, but one of his offspeed pitches will have to improve if he’s to be a more than a middle reliever. If his fastball actually is that good, maybe he could be the rare, successful 1-pitch reliever. He should see Triple-A this season with a chance to make his MLB debut. He has a Josh Fields feel to me. Solid reliever, but limited ceiling.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 50 65
Curveball 35 45
Changeup 30 40
Cmd/Ctrl 35 45
Delivery 40 45
FV/Risk 45 Medium

27. RHP Josh Sborz

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’3 218 25 Fastball CB Round B, ’15 7th/8th inning Triple-A OKC/LA 2019

Strengths

  • Improved strikeout rate
  • Velocity ticked up with move to bullpen
  • Experience

Weaknesses

  • Command/control needs work
  • Curveball inconsistent
  • Need to see if stuff maintains

Summary

A multi-inning reliever for the University of Virigina, Sborz was tried as a starter in the Dodgers’ org until the 2018 season. A move to the bullpen full-time did wonders for his stuff. He saw a slight increase in fastball velocity and his slider became a crisper offering. His fastball was a low-90s pitch as a starter, but that jumped up to be a mid-90s offering (94-97 MPH). It has more life as a reliever, and it’s a pitch he can sink and cut. However, it’s best when he throws it up in the strike zone. He pairs it with a tight, mid-80s slider that also saw an uptick in velo and effectiveness after moving to the ‘pen. It’s a 10-4 break with plenty of swing-and-miss potential. He also improved his curveball, thanks in part to scrapping his changeup.

His delivery is a bit unconventional, but it works for him. His command/control does waver at times, but with the uptick in stuff, he can afford to not be as precise as other hurlers. He also does a good job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone, as he allowed just one home run in 53 1/3 innings last season.

Sborz could be a late-inning reliever if his stuff maintains and his command/control either stays where it is or even improves. If not, he could be a perfectly fine middle reliever. Either way, he should see Los Angeles at some point this season.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 55 60
Curveball 45 50
Slider 50 55
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 45 45
FV/Risk 45 Medium

26. SS Jacob Amaya

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’0 181 20 Defense 11th round, ’17 Everyday SS High-A Rancho Cucamonga 2022

Strengths

  • Premium defender at shortstop; likely to stick
  • Good strike zone judgment/pitch recognition
  • Swing geared for contact

Weaknesses

  • Minimal power potential
  • Lots of ground balls
  • Lacking experience at upper levels

Summary

The Dodgers got Amaya in after the 10th round in 2017 for a cool $247,000. The Southern California product had a so-so pro debut, but he had a bit of a breakout in 2018. He walked as many times as he struck out while making a fair amount of contact. But the organization is most excited about his defensive potential at shortstop.

Amaya has a swing geared for contact. It’s level and generates decent bat speed. He doesn’t have the strength or swing path to generate much power. But he does a good job of making solid contact. Factor in the fact he has a great eye at the plate and you can see why there’s optimism for his bat going forward. Where he shines (right now) is with the glove. He projects to be a plus-defender at shortstop with an above-average arm. Of all the shortstop prospects in the organization, Amaya has the best chance to stick there. He made a strong impression on the front office with his play  in 2018. He’s at least an average runner, but he won’t steal a ton of bases.

He could be a first-division starter because of his premium defense at shortstop. He might run into a few dingers, but his offensive upside is of a light-hitting, glove-first shortstop. If his bat develops a couple of grades better than projected, then it won’t matter if he hits for only a little power. Worst-case scenario is that he’s a solid, up-the-middle utility player.

Tools Now Future
Hit 35 50
Power 25 40
Speed 45 50
Defense 45 60
Arm 45 55
FV/Risk 50 High

25. LHP Robinson Ortiz

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’0 186 19 Changeup IFA: Dominican, July ’17 Mid-rotation SP Low-A Great Lakes 2022

Strengths

  • Good velo from left side (90-93 MPH)
  • Changeup has flashed plus
  • Pitches beyond his age

Weaknesses

  • Command/control wavers at times
  • Breaking ball needs refinement
  • Lack of full-season experience

Summary

Ortiz was a $60,000 investment for the Dodgers out of the Dominican, and it looks like it could be well on its way to paying off. The first comp that comes to mind is Julio Urias, but Ortiz’s ceiling isn’t nearly that high. He showed well in the Arizona Rookie League last season by posting a 30.9 K%, 8.8 BB% and allowed two home runs in 32 1/3 innings. He’s quite polished for his age, but he still has a ways to go in his development.

Ortiz has a fastball that sits in the low-90s and has touched 94. While he may not grow much more, there could be a little velocity to come. It has some arm-side run to it, but sometimes it has too much run, leading to command/control issues with it. His curveball has flashed average. It has a 1-7 shape and sits in the mid-70s. His best offspeed pitch is his changeup that has flashed plus. It features good fade to right-handed hitters and sits in the low-80s.

He has a clean and repeatable delivery, which gives some hope for his command/control improving in the future. He has a high three-quarters release point that helps him get some movement on his fastball and changeup. Sometimes, he doesn’t finish his delivery, which leads to his front shoulder opening up and causes the ball to sail out of his hand. When that happens, the pitches are non-competitive, and it’s easy for hitters to see that.

Ortiz has mid-rotation upside, but a lot of that will depend on if he can command his pitches well enough to stay out of the bullpen. The stuff is there and could even improve over the next couple years, If he has to move to the ‘pen, he could be an interesting reliever, but he’s intriguing as a starter. He should see Great Lakes this season.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 55
Curveball 30 45
Changeup 45 60
Cmd/Ctrl 40 50
Delivery 40 50
FV/Risk 55 Extreme

24. RHP Gerardo Carrillo

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’0 154 20 Fastball IFA: Mexico, July ’16 Mid-rotation SP/power RP High-A Rancho Cucamonga 2022

Strengths

  • Powerful fastball (92-95 MPH, t97); can also sink/cut it
  • Strong off-speed pitches
  • Advanced command/control for age

Weaknesses

  • Lacking present strikeouts
  • Size not prototypical of starting pitchers
  • Too hittable at times

Summary

Carrillo didn’t garner much attention as an international signing out of Mexico for $75,000, but he put his name on the prospect map with a strong showing in 2018. He spent most of the season with Great Lakes (49 innings) and logged 60 overall. He had a 21.1 K%, 7.2 BB% and allowed just three home runs. One would think he’d compile more strikeouts with his stuff, but he hasn’t fully learned how to miss bats yet. But the potential for swinging strikes is there.

He operates with a heavy mid-90s fastball that he’s able to sink and cut. It has late life and movement and the fact he can sink and cut it makes it so that hitters can’t just sit on the 4-seamer. Carrillo backs it up with a curveball that has a nice range in terms of velocity. He can throw a slower one (74-76 MPH) or more of a power curve (79-81 MPH). It’s lagging behind his changeup a bit, but it could be an above-average offering. His low-to-mid-80s changeup is his best offspeed offering right now. It features good fade down in the zone. He’ll throw it against both-handed hitters. The adding/subtracting of speeds on all his pitches is a nod to his feel for pitching and maturity despite being just 20 years old.

Carrillo has a clean and easy delivery. The velocity doesn’t come as easy as it does to a guy like Yadier Alvarez, but it’s definitely there. He has a quick arm that helps him generate the velocity. His high three-quarters arm slot allows him to get movement on his heater. He doesn’t have a prototypical starter’s frame, which is the biggest knock on his chance to make it as a starter. But his clean mechanics and fast arm give him a chance to make it, stuff-wise.

Carrillo has one of the most intriguing arms in the system. If everything falls right, he could be a mid-rotation starter. If durability becomes a concern, he could be a powerful, back-end relief pitcher. His maturity also gives him a chance to make in the rotation. He should get tested in the hitter-friendly environment with Rancho Cucamonga of the California League.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 55
Curveball 40 55
Changeup 40 55
Cmd/Ctrl 40 55
Delivery 45 55
FV/Risk 55 Extreme

23. CF Jeren Kendall

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’2 182 23 Speed 1st round, ’17 Starting CF/4th OF High-A Rancho Cucamonga 2021

Strengths

  • Incredibly athletic
  • Plus-plus defender/runner
  • Above-average raw power

Weaknesses

  • Swing is a mess
  • Contact issues
  • Pitch recognition lacking

Summary

Kendall was viewed as a Top 10 talent in the 2017 MLB Draft out of Vanderbilt, but he fell on draft day not only because of a reported high bonus demand (which was a bit overstated; he signed less than $200,000 more than slot), but also because of concerns about his hit tool. After his first full season, those concerns haven’t been minimized. He hit .215/.300/.356 and struck out 32 percent of the time in the Cal League. That’s … not great. And for his hit tool to knock him down this far from last year, you know things have to be bad.

I saw Kendall early last season with Rancho Cucamonga, and immediately, his hand position stood out as a problem. They were too low and there were too many moving parts for him to catch up to even average velocity. His pitch recognition isn’t great, either, but he can draw a walk. He has worked over the winter to completely retool his swing — something that should have happened after he was drafted. Still, his athleticism and natural talent give some hope for him in the future.

There’s no better athlete in the system than Kendall. He’s a legit 70-grade runner and defender in center field. That should help him if he gets to the majors. But his hit tool will be the sole determiner if he makes it or not. If he can even be a 40-grade hitter, he’ll have a long career in the majors. But there’s doubt he can even get there. Repeating Rancho Cucamonga might not be the worst thing for him. He’s behind in his development, but his ceiling is almost unmatched (but it’s incredibly unlikely he ever gets there). If I could give him a risk factor greater than extreme, I would.

Tools Now Future
Hit 20 40
Power 40 55
Speed 70 70
Defense 70 70
Arm 45 50
FV/Risk 55 Extreme

22. LHP John Rooney

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’5 213 22 Slider 3rd round, ’18 No. 4/5 SP High-A Rancho Cucamonga 2021

Strengths

  • Slider is above-average
  • More velo to come?
  • Workhorse frame

Weaknesses

  • Present fastball velo just average
  • Physically maxed out
  • Limited ceiling

Summary

The Dodgers’ 2018 3rd-rounder out of baseball powerhouse Hofstra had a short pro debut, as is custom for most college pitchers. In 20 innings between the AZL and Midwest League, Rooney posted a 1.80 ERA, 27.6 K% and a 10.5 BB%. He didn’t allow a home run in those 20 innings.

Rooney has a prototypical starting pitcher’s frame, but he’s physically maxed out. His fastball ranges from 89-93 MPH with a little movement. The Dodgers have been good at coaxing more velocity out of guys like Rooney, so perhaps there’s a little more velo to come. If not, he should be able to succeed with even average velo. His low-80s slider is his best pitch. It features good break and he’s comfortable throwing it in any count. His low-80s changeup is coming along and could end up being a solid pitch for him down the road.

He has a clean delivery that lends itself to throwing consistent strikes. He releases his pitches from a high-three quarters slot. It helps get a little extra movement on his offerings. He’s not overly athletic, but his mechanics are sound and his ability to throw strikes because of that is greatly increased.

Rooney isn’t the most exciting prospect, but he’s a solid arm to have in the org. If everything clicks, he could be a No. 3/4 starter. If not, a back-end or swingman role could be his future. If he has to move to the bullpen, the stuff could play up and maybe give him a future as more than just a LOOGY. He should begin the season with Rancho Cucamonga.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 50
Slider 45 55
Changeup 40 55
Cmd/Ctrl 45 55
Delivery 50 50
FV/Risk 50 High

21. RHP Edwin Uceta

Height Weight Age Best Tool Acquired Role 2019 Location ETA
6’0 155 21 Changeup IFA: Dominican, ’16 No. 4/5 SP/back-end RP High-A Rancho Cucamonga 2021

Strengths

  • Changeup flashes plus
  • Fastball has life
  • Athletic frame

Weaknesses

  • Home run prone
  • Curveball lagging behind
  • Maxed out velocity

Summary

Uceta was an inexpensive international signing out of the Dominican Republic. The Dodgers inked him for just $10,000. After a decent first two pro seasons, Uceta made a name for himself in 2018. He had a 3.89 ERA, a 26.1 K% and a 7.8 BB%. He is a bit home run prone (16 allowed in 120 1/3 innings), but some of that could be a late-season promotion to Rancho where he allowed seven home runs in just 20 innings. Still, Uceta has lots of potential.

 Uceta works with a low-90s fastball that has touched 95 MPH. It has late life that gives it a little extra umph. However, sometimes he catches too much plate and it can get hit around a bit. His primary breaking ball is a mid-70s curveball that doesn’t project to miss many bats, but at least gives him a chance to stay in the rotation. His best offspeed offering is a low-80s changeup that has good dive in the strike zone. It’s a pitch he’ll throw in any count to any hitter. It also helps his fastball play up slightly because he throws it with such deceptive arm speed.

His delivery has a little effort to it, but it works for him. He has a quick arm that helps him generate velocity. He also has a three quarters arm slot as he whips his arm through his delivery. He sometimes gets out of sync, which leads to some command/control issues. But he’s able to repeat his delivery well enough that he should improve as he climbs the minor-league ladder. He also doesn’t have prototypical size to withstand the rigors of a starter’s workload.

Uceta has mid-rotation upside, but of all the starting pitchers in this grouping of 10, he’s most likely to end up in the bullpen. If he has to move to the ‘pen, his stuff could tick up. He should begin the season back in Rancho with a chance to reach Tulsa sometime in 2019.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 55
Curveball 35 50
Changeup 40 55
Cmd/Ctrl 40 50
Delivery 40 50
FV/Risk 50 High

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Next Up: Prospects 20-11

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.