As we close the decade, it’s time to look back at who the top Dodger prospects were during this 10-year stretch.
For this exercise, I’m going to use all my prospect rankings from 2010 through 2019.
For the straight numbers rankings — adding up a player’s ranking and dividing it by how many times he appeared on the list — I’m only using players ranked in the Top 10 of my rankings, and the players must have appeared on more than one list.
For the “true ranking,” for lack of a better phrase, all player had to do was be on one of my lists. That way, guys like Kenta Maeda, Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu will be represented. Of course, that ranking is going to be more difficult because it’ll be hard to separate their value when they were a prospect versus how they have performed in the majors.
Before we get started, let’s look at my No. 1 prospect for each year from ’10-’19.
- 2010: Dee Gordon
- 2011: Jerry Sands
- 2012: Zach Lee
- 2013: Zach Lee
- 2014: Corey Seager
- 2015: Corey Seager
- 2016: Corey Seager
- 2017: Cody Bellinger
- 2018: Walker Buehler
- 2019: Alex Verdugo
It’s amazing how things progressed over the years.
Next, let’s look at the Top 50 by pure rankings/numbers.
Now, those are certainly some names. Some players suffered from low rankings earlier (Gonsolin, Santana), while some benefited from being ranked highly early on and then would either exhaust their prospect status or traded (De Leon, Holmes, Robinson).
So now, who are the best Dodger prospects of this decade? Aside from the guys listed above, here’s who didn’t make the list because they were only on a singular list for one year.
- Grant Dayton (JFC, Dustin)
- Rubby De La Rosa
- Jeter Downs
- Andrew Lambo
- Kenta Maeda
- Yasiel Puig
- Paco Rodriguez
- Jerry Sands
- Hyun-Jin Ryu
- Shawn Tolleson
OK, from this list, we can eliminate all but Maeda, Puig and Ryu. While some of the other players were ranked highly, they won’t make the final cut.
For argument’s sake, let’s narrow the 60 players (50 on the table, 10 who didn’t qualify for it) down to the Top 20. Here’s how I would rank them, doing my best to account for how they were as prospects rather than what they’ve done since becoming major leaguers.
1. SS Corey Seager
I don’t think this is up for much debate. No Dodger prospect coming up in recent years has had as much hype and a universally agreed upon ranking.
2. OF Yasiel Puig
Puig had glowing on-field scouting reports coming up. Some said he was the next Raul Mondesi or Jeff Francoeur and while he has a little way to go to catch Mondesi in terms of WAR, he has been, easily, the best hitter of the three.
3. 1B/OF Cody Bellinger
I had long since been a believer of Bellinger since he was drafted and thought he might turn out to be really good. But I’d be lying if I said I thought he’d be this good.
4. RHP Walker Buehler
Not bad for a kid who had Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted. He is the top Dodgers’ pitching prospect of the decade, and his MLB performance has backed that up.
5. LHP Julio Urias
Urias gets bonus points for being so young and he was once neck-and-neck (in my eyes) with Buehler as a pitching prospect. But Buehler pulled away in the end while Urias has already undergone a serious shoulder procedure. Fortunately for his baseball career, it appears he is fully recovered from it.
6. RHP Zach Lee
While things didn’t pan out for him int he majors, Lee was a bonafide prospect coming up. His stuff never took the step forward many thought it would, which is partly to blame for his lack of success in the majors.
7. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
Some thought he was going to be a reliever, but others saw him as a solid mid-rotation pitcher. He had a solid 4-pitch mix with plus-command, so the reliever label never made sense to me. After some injury-plagued seasons, he finished second in the NL Cy Young vote in 2019.
8. OF Joc Pederson
Everyone remembers Pederson coming up through the minors as a power-speed guy — he even had a 30/30 season. While the speed never really came in the majors, the power did and he has been a fixture in the Dodgers’ lineup since the 2016 season.
9. OF Alex Verdugo
Viewed as a pitching prospect in the 2014 draft, the Dodgers took Verdugo and allowed him to play the position he wanted to. It has paid off, as he might be the best bat-to-ball prospect the Dodgers have had in many decades.
10. RHP Kenta Maeda
He didn’t have the same excitement Ryu had coming up, but Maeda was viewed as a solid back-end starting pitcher, and that’s exactly what he has been with the Dodgers.
11. SS Dee Gordon
This might seem a little low for a guy who was tied with Seager in the numerical rankings, but Gordon was never a consensus Top 25 prospect in all of baseball and he benefited in the rankings due to the Dodgers not having the strongest farm system at the time. Still, he has gone onto have a solid MLB career.
12. C Keibert Ruiz
The youngest position prospect here, Ruiz had a lot of helium after a strong 2017 campaign. He has ranked No. 2 in each of the last two seasons in a strong Dodger farm system. If anything, I might be underrating him a bit.
13. SS Gavin Lux
First-round pedigree helps land Lux here. He started off a bit slow in his career, but a great 2018 season was a precursor to a phenomenal 2019 season.
14. RHP Grant Holmes
Holmes was one of three prep pitchers the Dodgers drafted in the first round in the decade (Lee, JT Ginn) and was the final first-rounder for former scouting director Logan White. Holmes was a key piece of the Rich Hill trade and, despite battling injuries in the Oakland system, he could be on the right track now.
15. RHP Dustin May
His third-round pedigree is a bit misleading, seeing as he got a $1 million signing bonus, but May has done some impressive things for a now-21-year-old and could be a rotation fixture for the Dodgers for years to come.
16. RHP Jose De Leon
De Leon checked in higher on the number list because he was a bit of a late-bloomer. Still, he was a quality pitching prospect with LA and was the reason they got Logan Forsythe from the Rays prior to the 2017 season.
17. C Will Smith
Smith has shown well in the minors and has transformed his game since being the 32nd overall selection in the ’16 draft. He has ranked highly in a deep Dodger system in recent years, which is a net positive for him.
18. OF Yusniel Diaz
A huge international signee, the Dodgers were just getting the best of Diaz before the shipped him off to Baltimore for Manny Machado. In fact, I had him ranked No. 2 in my midseason Top 30 update. He could have been even higher if the Dodgers hadn’t traded him.
19. RHP Allen Webster
One of the biggest pieces of the Nick Punto deal, Webster had some high marks in the three years I ranked him. The system was weaker back then, so he doesn’t get as much credit (for lack of a better term) for it. You want to hear the craziest part? He’s only 29 years old!
20. RHP Nathan Eovaldi
A World Series hero … for Boston … Eovaldi peaked at No. 2 in my rankings before the Dodgers sent him to Miami in the Hanley Ramirez deal. His MLB career has been successful and he was a pretty damn good prospect coming up through the system.
There you have it. Agree? Disagree? Indifferent? Let me know in the comments. Also, stay tuned for the 2020 rankings, which begin next month.