2019 Dodgers Top 100 prospects: Midseason Top 30 update

Jeter Downs (Photo: Dustin Nosler)

In what has become an All-Star break tradition, here is my Midseason Top 30 Dodgers Prospects update.

You’ll see plenty of new names, plenty of familiar and you’ll be missing some names who have dropped due to poor performance and lack of development.

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Eligibility

All players who have not reached 50 innings pitched, 130 at-bats in the Major Leagues and have less than 45 days of pre-Sept. 1 service time are eligible for this list.

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Numbers in parenthesis was the player’s rank in my preseason Top 100.

Midseason Top 30

1. SS/2B Gavin Lux (4, +3)
– Has clearly separated himself from every other prospect in the system. He hit well at Double-A and has been even better in Triple-A. He profiles as an offensive-minded middle infielder with surprising pop.

2. RHP Dustin May (3, +1)
– The top pitching prospect in the system, May is having a great season between Double- and Triple-A and has an outside shot of seeing LA in September.

3. C/3B Will Smith (6, +3)
– He showed why the org is so high on him in his brief MLB stints thus far. He has overtaken a certain Venezuelan catcher as the org’s top catching prospect (for me) and is probably starting in LA next season — if not sooner.

4. RHP Josiah Gray (11, +7)
– Perhaps one of the most impressive prospects of the first half, Gray came over in the Yasiel Puig deal as the second piece, but he has established himself as the 2nd-best pitching prospect in the org after a strong showing at Low-A and an even stronger showing in High-A.

5. C Keibert Ruiz (2, -3)
– It’s tough to be this down on a 20-year-old catcher in Double-A, but Ruiz hasn’t really gotten on track yet. The results aren’t great, but he still has the talent to be a primary catcher and could conceivably get on track in the second half.

6. SS/2B Jeter Downs (9, +3)
– The other prize of the Kyle Farmer trade, Downs got off to a bit of a slow start with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, but since April, he has a .277/.357/.535 batting line and has been the stabilizing force in the Quakes’ lineup.

7. RHP Tony Gonsolin (5, -2)
– Gonsolin missed about 6 weeks with an oblique injury and just went back on the MiLB IL with a hamstring injury (#TrueDodger). He hasn’t fully gotten on track yet this season, but the ceiling remains pretty high for the hard-throwing right-hander.

8. 3B Kody Hoese (NR)
– The Dodgers’ 1st-rounder in the 2019 draft, Hoese got off to a great start with the one of AZL clubs and should see a promotion very soon. He’s too good to be playing in complex ball.

9. 2B/SS Omar Estevez (10, +1)
– Estevez missed some time this season with a leg injury, but before he went to the injured list, he was hitting .331/.407/.449 in Double-A at 21 years old. I’m higher on the middle infielder than most.

10. 3B Miguel Vargas (20, +10)
– This is perhaps the most aggressive ranking and the one I’m most excited about. Vargas started a bit slow in Low-A — especially in the power department — but a couple of hot streaks have boosted his standing and earned him a promotion to High-A. It’s a glimpse into his overall potential. Power is usually the last thing to develop, and at 19, Vargas is seeing that power show up in-game.

11. C Diego Cartaya (12, +1)
– Cartaya spent a short time in the Dominican Summer League before settling in with the AZL squads. The 17-year-old (!) is younger than any player the Dodgers drafted this year and should only improve as he faces advanced competition.

12. RHP Mitchell White (8, -4)
– White got off to a good start in Double-A and earned a promotion to Triple-A. Things haven’t gone as well for him with OKC, but the stuff seems to be back and a little more consistent than in years past, so this midseason ranking might even be a bit low for him. The fact that two draftees and one potential mega prospect passed him has more to do with his falling five spots than his performance itself.

13. 2B/1B/OF Michael Busch (NR)
– The Dodgers’ compensatory 1st-rounder for not signing J.T. Ginn last year, Busch just signed as his North Carolina Tarheels were in the NCAA playoffs. He can hit and should get to Great Lakes at some point. He played first base and outfield in college, but the Dodgers are going to see if he can handle second base.

14. OF Cody Thomas (15, +1)
– One of my favorites, Thomas has acquitted himself nicely in Double-A. He was named to the Texas League All-Star team and he has worked on reducing his strikeout rate a bit from last season. A big second half could await the raw prospect.

15. RHP Michael Grove (16, +1)
– On the surface, Grove’s performance could be seen as alarming. A 7.16 ERA is eye-popping in a negative way. But if you dig a little, you’ll be blown away by his 23.5 K-BB%, which includes a 32.2 K%. His FIP is 3.93, which isn’t bad for the California League and is suffering from an abnormally high BABIP of .439. He’s showing the stuff that made him a 2nd-round pick in 2018 and I’m not terribly worried about the high ERA because the peripherals are solid-to-great.

16. RHP Dennis Santana (7, -9)
– Santana might have had the most disappointing first half of any prospect in this update. He had a brief stint with the Dodgers but has spent most of his time in Triple-A. The walk rate is up significantly, which has led to problems with him getting hit around a bit. The encouraging thing is he’s still missing bats, but even that’s down a bit. He has some work to do in the second half to get back to the level he was at before the season.

17. OF DJ Peters (13, -4)
– If Santana wasn’t the most disappointing prospect of the first half, then Peters was. He began with Double-A again and was … fine (.241/.333/.422), but he didn’t show a ton of improvement. Despite that, he still got a promotion to Triple-A, where he has been a bit better in a much smaller sample size. He has reduced his strikeout rate by almost 4 points, but that also comes with a sub-.200 ISO, when Peters has been a .235(ish) ISO guy in his MiLB career.

18. 1B/3B/LF Matt Beaty (19, +1)
– Beaty was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason and has spent some time in LA already. He’s been solid if unspectacular, which completely matches his scouting report. His ceiling is limited, but his floor is pretty well-defined.

19. 1B/3B Edwin Rios (14, -5)
– Rios, like Beaty, got his first shot at the majors in the first half. He hasn’t had the same impact as Beaty, but he also hasn’t been up very long. In Triple-A, Rios was struggling a bit before turning it on late, but his literal 40 percent strikeout rate while there is pretty alarming, especially since his 32.2 percent rate last season went in the wrong direction from previous seasons.

20. 2B/3B Devin Mann (89, +69)
– One of the biggest risers, last year’s 5th-round pick has acclimated quite well to the California League after having a little bit of a rougher go in the Midwest League last year. A swing change in the offseason is responsible for the substantial power increase. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the 22-year-old saw Tulsa at some point in the second half. Oh, and he’s the spitting image of DJ LeMahieu, physically.

21. SS Jacob Amaya (26, +5)
– Amaya may not have the offensive upside as other infield prospects before him on this list, but he has a great eye at the plate, makes a lot of contact and has the chops to stick at shortstop. The 20-year-old still has a ways to go before he gets to his ceiling, but he’s just a solid prospect.

22. RHP Edwin Uceta (21, -1)
– Uceta pitched very well in High-A, which earned him a promotion to Double-A. He has struggled a bit with Tulsa (bitten by the home run bug), but he has shown well enough this season that he’s one of the more legitimate pitching prospects in the system.

23. RHP Jordan Sheffield (31, +8)
– A permanent shift to the bullpen has helped Sheffield immensely. While he still has command/control issues, his stuff has played up and his strikeout rate has spiked. He could be in the Dodger bullpen as early as mid-2020.

24. 3B Cristian Santana (30, +6)
– Santana definitely has the defensive chops for third base, and he’s a bit of an enigma offensively. He has great power potential and makes loud contact, but he’s such a free-swinger that he rarely walks. He’s been solid for Double-A Tulsa this season.

25. SS/3B Alex De Jesus (38, +13)
– One of my favorites from the 2018-19 international signing class, the 17-year-old has already been promoted stateside and is more than holding his own. While he still profiles as a third baseman long term, he’s been handling himself well at shortstop thus far.

26. LHP John Rooney (22, -4)
– Rooney has seen his numbers dip a bit in his first full season. He doesn’t have premium stuff, so he’ll have to also improve his command/control. He has done a good job limiting home runs (2 HR in 42 IP).

27. RHP Josh Sborz (27)
– Sborz made it to the majors and after his first appearance, immediately went on the injured list. At Triple-A, his run prevention numbers don’t look great, but most of that damage came in one outing early in the season. His strikeout rate is up, his walk rate is down and he might have a real future in the Dodger ‘pen.

28. RHP Marshall Kasowski (28)
– Kasowski has been his dominant self, but he’s still in Double-A. He’s running an almost 40 percent strikeout rate and it might be time for him to move up a level. He and Sborz in the OKC bullpen would be quite the formidable duo.

29. C/2B Connor Wong (18, -11)
– Wong’s power has not really been a question since turning pro, but his contact numbers are concerning. He has seen his batting average and on-base percentage drop significantly. If he had moved up to Double-A, it wouldn’t be as concerning, but he’s repeating High-A at 23. Here’s hoping for second-half improvement.

30. RHP Andre Jackson (76, +46)
– Jackson has already established a career-best in innings pitched, despite missing the first month of the season in extended spring training. He pitched well enough in Low-A that he earned a promotion to High-A. He has shown good stuff that has led to an almost 30 percent strikeout rate. He has some control issues, but the 23-year-old seems to be in the midst of a breakout season.

The Next 5 in alphabetical order (preseason ranking): RHP Jimmy Lewis (NR), OF Andy Pages (78), RHP Ryan Pepiot (NR), OF Luis Rodriguez (NR), RHP Guillermo Zuniga (44)

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Here are some guys ranked in the back half of the Top 100 who would be pushing for a Top 50 ranking in the system if the season ended today, aside from “The Next 5” listed above (preseason ranking):

Here are guys ranked in the Top 100 who are no longer in the system:

Dropped out of Top 30: Yadier Alvarez (17), Jeren Kendall (23), Gerardo Carrillo (24), Robinson Ortiz (25), Jared Walker (29)

Moved into Top 30: Hoese (8), Busch (12), Mann (20), Sheffield (23), De Jesus (25), Jackson (30)

Graduated: Verdugo (1)

Biggest riser: Mann (+69)

Biggest faller: Alvarez

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.