2020 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: 20-11

Omar Estevez (Photo: Stacie Wheeler)

We are marching toward the Top 10 of this Top 100 countdown. This is when we get to the point where the names are very familiar and they should all make the majors someday.

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Previous Entries

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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 generally 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 2020 season age for the player (June 30 is the cutoff date).

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20. Devin Mann

DOB: 2/11/97Age: 23Height: 6’3Weight: 202Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: 2B/3B

Acquired: Fifth round, No. 164 overall of 2018 MLB Draft, University of Louisville, $272,500 signing bonus

Physical description: Tall, added weight since turning pro, DJ LeMahieu clone

Strengths: Improved power, good bat-to-ball, defensive versatility

Weaknesses: Not a lot of speed, bat plays better at second than third, power needs to show at higher levels

Key statistics: .286/.366/.501, 10.7 BB%, 21.4 K%, .215 ISO (A+)

Role: Second-division 2B/utility infielder

Summary: Mann wasn’t a highly touted draft pick, but they have gone to the University of Louisville well a bit in recent years (Will Smith, Kyle Funkhouser). Since his collegiate days, he has transformed his offensive game to become a more viable prospect. With Rancho Cucamonga, he hit .278/.358/.496 with 19 home runs despite missing a month with an MCL sprain. A season after hitting .241/.348/.335 with Great Lakes, the offensive improvement was apparent.

He was able to tap into the natural power that exists in his physical frame. He added loft to his swing and got stronger overall. His approach changed from a more contact-based approach to one of lifting the ball and hitting for power — you know, basically embracing what the Dodgers’ player development staff has taught to many a hitting prospect.

Defensively, Mann looks like a third baseman, but he improved his defense at second base enough that he can probably handle it as he progresses through the minors. His arm strength improved to be borderline-plus at second base and at least average at third base, should he end up playing some of the hot corner. He could also see some time at first base because he’s agile and versatile enough to handle it.

Mann should begin the 2020 with Tulsa. It’ll be a big test for him — as it usually is with most prospects. If he handles Texas League pitching well enough, his prospect status could rise even more than it already has. He has the ceiling of an everyday second baseman, but he could easily settle into a utility infielder role with power potential. His bat will determine his ultimate role.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4055
Power4050
Speed4045
Defense4550
Arm5055
FV/Risk45Medium

19. Andre Jackson

DOB: 5/1/96Age: 24Height: 6’3Weight: 210Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: RHP

Acquired: 12th round, No. 370 overall of 2017 MLB Draft, University of Utah, $247,500 signing bonus

Physical description: Prototypical SP frame, chance to add good weight, athletic

Strengths: Premium SP velo, quality offspeed pitches, starter’s frame

Weaknesses: Injury history/durability concerns, command/control issues, needs to be more aggressive

Key statistics: 3.06 ERA, 29.2 K%, 11.8 BB%, 6 HR allowed in 114 2/3 IP (A/A+)

Role: No. 4/5 starter or power reliever

Summary: The Dodgers felt strongly enough about Jackson’s future that they made him one of the two post-10th round draftees to get an over-slot signing bonus. They did so despite his having had Tommy John surgery that spring and logging just 20 2/3 innings in his collegiate career. After a bit of a rocky debut, his 2019 season was a bit of a breakout for him.

Jackson operates with a hard 92-96 MPH fastball that has gotten up to 98 MPH. It has life and he throws it up in the strike zone to get swinging strikes. He pairs it with a hard, biting low-80s curveball that gets swinging strikes against both handed hitters. He also has a solid-average 83-86 MPH changeup that he’ll throw against both lefties and righties. He’s also working on a cutter (88-90 MPH), but it’s far from a finished product.

He has a classic windup with a bit of a long arm action. However, his arm is quick that it makes up for the extra action. He has an over-the-top delivery that helps him get good downward plane on his pitches. He gets out of sync at times, which leads to command/control concerns. Jackson has mid-rotation upside, but his command/control and refinement of his offspeed pitches will determine his future. He could go back to Rancho for a refresher, but he should see Tulsa at some point in 2020.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball4055
Curveball3050
Changeup3555
Cutter3045
Command/Control3545
Delivery4050
FV/Risk50High

18. Dennis Santana

DOB: 4/12/96Age: 24Height: 6’2Weight: 191Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: RHP

Acquired: International free agent (Dominican Republic), July 2013, $170,000 signing bonus

Physical description: Lanky yet athletic, loose

Strengths: Best fastball movement in system, wipeout slider, low-mileage arm

Weaknesses: Changeup inconsistent, injury/durability concerns, rough 2019

Key statistics: 6.94 ERA, 23.6 K%, 11.9 BB%, 16 HR allowed in 93 1/3 IP (AAA)

Role: No. 4/5 starter or late-inning reliever

Summary: Signed as a shortstop in 2013 for $170,000, the Dodgers quickly shifted the athletic Santana to the mound, which has proved to be the smart move. Despite debuting in 2018, he hasn’t logged many MLB innings (8 2/3) over the last two years. He got roughed up a bit with Oklahoma City last season and saw his command/control take a step backward. However, he still missed his fair share of bats (13.0 SwStr%), which is encouraging. His struggles against left-handed hitters could mean a permanent shift to the bullpen.

Santana has a fastball that he can sink. When he’s right, it’s a consistently 93-95 MPH offering with arm-side run. It has so much movement at times that it’s difficult for him to command. Still, it’s his best pitch. He backs that up with a tight mid-80s slider with good tilt that has developed into a true strikeout pitch. His changeup is thrown a little harder than his slider and almost has a 2-seam fastball look to it. Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t play as well with his sinker. It also doesn’t do much in the way of fooling left-handed hitters, which had a 1.026 OPS against him in 2019.

If there were a visual representation of the term “lanky,” Santana would be it. He’s tall and think and, as Vin Scully used to say, “all elbows and knee caps.” Well, not really, as his delivery works for him. He has a three-quarters release point and a bit of a crossfire delivery, further fueling the “future reliever” tag. The ball jumps out of his hand, though, and his pitches have good life.

After the 2017 season, it looked like Santana could be a rotation guy — perhaps a No. 3 starter. The last couple of seasons have quelled that significantly. He has really good stuff, but the lack of a third pitch, durability/injury concerns and inconsistent command/control likely leads to him being a reliever. If he does go to the bullpen, he could be a late-inning reliever — perhaps the one to take the mantle from Kenley Jansen someday. He could also fill a swingman-type role. Santana is on the 40-man roster, so he’ll see some time in Los Angeles this season, but he’ll begin the season with OKC.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball5560
Slider5560
Changeup3545
Command/Control4045
Delivery4545
FV/Risk45Medium

17. Michael Grove

DOB: 12/18/96Age: 23Height: 6’3Weight: 200Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: RHP

Acquired: Second round, No. 68 overall of 2018 MLB Draft, University of West Virginia, $1,229,500 signing bonus

Physical description: Good frame, athletic

Strengths: Swing-and-miss slider, good fastball velo, promising peripherals

Weaknesses: Inconsistent fastball velo, command/control comes and goes, injury history

Key statistics: 6.10 ERA, 31.6 K%, 8.2 BB%, 7 HR allowed in 51 2/3 IP (A+)

Role: No. 4/5 SP, power reliever

Summary: One of the more surprising early round picks in 2018, Grove was given a much larger than predicted signing bonus when the Dodgers failed to sign JT Ginn out of high school. This was his first taste of professional ball after missing almost 18 months after Tommy John surgery. While the ERA in Rancho Cucamonga looks bad (and it was), Grove’s peripherals tell a different story. He was the victim of a some bad luck. He had a .412 BABIP despite a 29.9 GB%. Couple that with a manageable walk rate and potentially elite strikeout rate and you can see why there’s optimism. The Dodgers were very careful about his workload. He made 21 starts, but only averaged about 2.5 innings per start. That should increase this season.

Grove, when he’s on, is pumping 92-95 MPH fastballs consistently. There are times when the velocity drops to the 89-91 MPH range and loses a little life. He has a little natural cutting action to it. He pairs it with a potentially plus-slider that has a high spin rate and a lot of depth. It’s a true swing-and-miss pitch. His changeup is lagging behind his other two pitches and will be a key in determining his future role.

His delivery is clean and repeatable. His athleticism gives him a chance for it to lead to above-average command. He throws from an over-the-top arm slot, which helps his fastball generate swinging strikes up in the zone.

This year will be an important one for Grove. If he shows he’s taken a step forward after a rusty first year, he could vault up this list next year. His ability to adjust to the workload, advanced competition and his changeup are all things to watch. If he puts it all together, he has No. 3 SP upside. More likely, he’s a back-end starter or power reliever who misses bats. It wouldn’t be surprising if he went back to Rancho for a refresher, but he will see Tulsa at some point in 2020.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball4060
Slider3560
Changeup3045
Command/Control4055
Delivery4050
FV/Risk50High

16. Edwin Uceta

DOB: 1/9/98Age: 22Height: 6’0Weight: 155Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: RHP

Acquired: International free agent (Dominican Republic), July 2016, $10,000 signing bonus

Physical description: Small frame, compact, athletic

Strengths: Incredible makeup, misses bats, plus-changeup

Weaknesses: Lacks premium fastball velo, curveball inconsistent

Key statistics: 2.77 ERA, 26.9 K%, 9.4 BB%, 11 HR allowed in 123 1/3 IP (A+/AA)

Role: No. 4/5 SP, multi-inning reliever

Summary: Uceta is starting to look like quite the bargain after the Dodgers signed him for (baseball) pennies back in 2016. He success at both High-A and Double-A last season at age 21. He saw his strikeout rate dip and walk rate increase after moving up to Tulsa, but he still showed pretty well for a pitcher his age.

He doesn’t have premium velocity, but his fastball sits in the 90-92 MPH range and gets up to 95. He gets late life on it that makes it a little more effective — especially up in the strike zone. His best offspeed pitch is a plus-changeup in the low-80s that features great fade and looks like his fastball coming out of his hand. He’ll use it against both lefties and righties. His curveball is a little slurvy in the high-70s that induces swinging strikes against righties, but not so much against lefties.

There’s a little effort to Uceta’s delivery. It starts off normally enough, but there’s a little extra effort after his high leg kick. His quick arm makes up for any deficiencies in the delivery that would potentially hamper his velocity and movement. He delivers his pitches from a three-quarters arm slot.

If Uceta improves his breaking pitch and can handle the rigors of a starting role, he could carve out a nice back-end starting role. If he can’t, he should be a nice multi-inning or middle reliever with a chance to be a setup guy. He’ll go back to Tulsa with a chance to get to Oklahoma City at some point in 2020.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball5055
Curveball4550
Changeup5560
Command/Control4550
Delivery5050
FV/Risk45Medium

15. Jacob Amaya

DOB: 9/3/98Age: 21Height: 6’0Weight: 180Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: SS

Acquired: 11th round, No. 340 overall of 2017 MLB Draft, South Hills HS (Calif.), $247,500 signing bonus

Physical description: Athletic, compact, well put together

Strengths: Advanced hand-eye coordination, feel for hit, great plate discipline

Weaknesses: Lacks present power, hits a lot of grounders, limited ceiling

Key statistics: .260/.369/.391, 14.5 BB%, 17.5 K%, .131 ISO (A/A+)

Role: Second-division SS or prime utility infielder

Summary: The Dodgers thought enough of Amaya, a local product, to make him an over-slot signee in 2017. He showed some improved offense in 2019 and he’s a favorite among the Dodgers’ brass.

Amaya has a compact swing at the plate that generates solid bat speed. He still has trouble elevating the ball as evidenced by his nearly 52.4 percent ground ball rate after his promotion to Rancho. He doesn’t have blazing speed, so hitting the ball on the ground doesn’t result in many extra hits. When he does elevate, he shows more power to the pull side. His best trait is controlling the strike zone. He has displayed the ability to identify pitches and avoid chasing. He should be a high contact hitter at the next level. If he develops even close to average power, he could be a borderline All-Star.

Defensively, Amaya is the best bet to stick at shortstop as any shortstop in the org. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but it is accurate and his soft hands help to make playing shortstop look easy for him. He isn’t the rangiest defender, but he gets to enough balls to be a viable shortstop. If he has to move off shortstop, he could be a premiere defender at second base.

Amaya has the tools to be an every day shortstop in the majors. It may be for a second-division team, but if he unlocks some power, that could change. A return to Rancho is likely, but he should make his way to Tulsa at some point for his first big test.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4055
Power2540
Speed5045
Defense5060
Arm4555
FV/Risk50High

14. Luis Rodriguez

DOB: 9/16/02Age: 17Height: 6’2Weight: 175Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: CF

Acquired: International free agent (Venezuela), July 2019, $2,667,500 signing bonus

Physical description: Athletic, still filling out, mature frame for age

Strengths: Plus-bat speed, huge power potential, 5-tool guy

Weaknesses: No pro experience, untested, long way away

Key statistics: N/A

Role: Everyday center fielder

Summary: The Dodgers made Rodriguez their biggest international amateur signing since their crazy spending spree in 2015-16 that netted them Yadier Alvarez ($16 million), Yusniel Diaz ($15.5 million) and the No. 12 prospect ($6 million) on this list.

Rodriguez is a potential All-Star. He displays elite bat speed, a mature approach, the ability to hit the ball all over the field and, in time, will develop plenty of over-the-fence power. He naturally elevates the ball off his bat and makes loud contact. He’ll be tested whenever he makes his pro debut (later this year), but he has all the makings. As far as right-handed hitters go, his swing is pretty smooth and aesthetically pleasing.

As of now, he profiles as an above-average center fielder thanks to being an above-average runner. He has plenty of range and more than enough arm, but there’s the thought he might get too bulky to play an adequate center field. There’s every chance he gains 25-30 pounds and is still just fine in center, but if he has to move to right field, he has more than enough talent to do so. And the bat should play well there.

Rodriguez is going to play the entire 2020 season at age 17 (I’m not old, you’re old). He’ll likely split time between the Dominican Summer League and Arizona Rookie League. If he handles those assignments well, the Dodgers have been known to be aggressive with their hitting prospects, so he could be on a bit of a fast track (i.e., debuting in the next four or so years). He’s one of the most intriguing prospects in the system and following his development over the next few years should be exciting.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit2550
Power2555
Speed5055
Defense3050
Arm5060
FV/Risk55Extreme

13. DJ Peters

DOB: 12/12/95Age: 24Height: 6’6Weight: 225Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: RF/CF

Acquired: Fourth round, No. 131 overall of 2016 MLB Draft, Western Nevada College, $442,400 signing bonus

Physical description: Tall, very athletic for size

Strengths: Light tower power, better than expected defender, strong arm

Weaknesses: Lacks contact, lots of swing-and-miss, probably not a center fielder

Key statistics: .249/.358/.453, 11.2 BB%, 31.0 K%, .204 ISO (AAA)

Role: Second-division starting OF, fourth OF

Summary: The Dodgers have taken a shining to some junior college prospects in recent years, and Peters is no exception. They gave him almost double his slot-recommended amount. He has drawn comparisons to Jayson Werth, mostly because of his frame and hair (which he has since cut), but he’s not quite the player Werth turned out to be. He has more power but also more swing-and-miss. He struggled a bit to begin 2019 with Tulsa, but a midseason promotion to Oklahoma City helped to get him back on track.

Peters’ calling card is his power. He has the ability to drive the ball out to all fields and hit some tape measure shots to left field. Like with many tall hitters, his swing is long and has led to contact issues. Not only that, but he has recorded some alarming strikeout rates (almost 31 percent for his MiLB career). When he barrels the ball, the contact is extremely loud. The contact just isn’t as consistent. He can run for a big guy, though. He may not steal 20-30 bases in the majors, but he can make some things happen on the bases.

In the outfield, he has played a lot of center field so far and could probably handle it in more than a pinch at the MLB level thanks to his range and instincts. However, he still seems destined for right field. If he moves there, he has a chance to be a top-tier right fielder because he has a rocket arm and makes good reads.

He’s on the 40-man roster, so he’ll likely make it to LA at some point this season. The depth chart is pretty stacked, so it may not happen until September. Until then, he’ll be starting in OKC just waiting for a chance to make his MLB debut.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4045
Power6065
Speed5550
Defense5055
Arm6060
FV/Risk50High

12. Omar Estevez

DOB: 2/25/98Age: 22Height: 5’10Weight: 197Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: 2B/SS

Acquired: International free agent (Cuba), November 2016, $6 million signing bonus

Physical description: Stout, compact, some athleticism

Strengths: Great bat-to-ball, solid defender

Weaknesses: Power still questionable, shortstop defense not great

Key statistics: .292/.353/.429, 9.2 BB%, 21.8 K%, .137 ISO (AA/AZL)

Role: Second-division 2B/utility infielder

Summary: When Estevez signed, it was a bit of a surprise. Not so much that he signed, but because he got such a significant signing bonus. He definitely benefited from the Dodgers’ massive international spending spree. A leg injury cost him about six weeks of the season and slammed the brakes on potentially breakout season for him. Through May 14, he was hitting .333/.412/.456 as a 21-year-old in the Texas League. After he came back, he hit just .268/.319/.415. He had topped 500 plate appearances in each of his first three seasons, so this was the first time he had to deal with injuries.

Estevez uses a simple, line drive approach at the plate to barrel pitches all over the field. He has good strike zone discipline and pitch recognition that allows him to put quality swings on pitches. He went from a strictly pull approach to a more diverse one in 2020. Still, his power is mostly to the pull side (which isn’t a bad thing). He’s a below-average runner but not a base-clogger.

On defense, he has played his fair share of shortstop since signing as a second baseman. He has done well enough to at least give him a chance to play there — at least in a pinch — at the MLB level. He lacks the quickness and range to be an everyday shortstop, but he profiles as an above-average defender at second base. He has soft hands and good instincts that play well there.

One of the more underrated prospects in the system, Estevez could very easily be an everyday second baseman because his bat is his carrying tool. He could also carve out a nice Howie Kendrick-like role in the majors. He’ll see OKC at some point, but he might go back to Tulsa for a bit of a tune up.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4555
Power4045
Speed4540
Defense5050
Arm4545
FV/Risk50High

11. Edwin Rios

DOB: 4/21/94Age: 26Height: 6’3Weight: 220Bats: LeftThrows: RightPosition: 1B/3B/COF

Acquired: Sixth round, No. 192 overall of 2015 MLB Draft, Florida International university, $234,800 signing bonus

Physical description: Thick, broad shoulders, not overly athletic

Strengths: Best power in the system, consistent hard contact, strong throwing arm

Weaknesses: Lacks plate discipline, not great defensively

Key statistics: .277/.393/.617, 16.1 BB%, 37.5 K%, .340 ISO (MLB)

Role: Starting 1B, platoon 4 corner guy

Summary: Rios had a somewhat down 2018 season that saw some of his prodigious power get sapped due to injury. However, he bounced back in a big way in 2019. He hit a system-high 31 home runs and added four at the MLB level. But like Peters before him, strikeouts are a concern. But when you average 95 MPH on 26 batted balls (with the minor-league data to back it up), you can live with the strikeouts.

Rios has a sweet left-handed stroke that produces very hard hit baseballs. It’s above-average bat speed and he’s able to drive the ball over the fence to any part of the field. He has an open stance and generates natural loft. He can be a bit too aggressive at times, which contributes to a high strikeout rate. If he can keep it at a manageable rate, any team would gladly trade the upside of many dingers for the strikeouts.

Rios, despite possibly being able to play four positions, isn’t terribly great at any of them. He’s not that athletic and profiles better at first base, where his plus-arm goes to waste. But if he’s able to handle third base, left- and right fields well enough, he could increase his utility and value. Think a less athletic Joey Gallo (minus the time in center field). And it almost goes without saying, but he’s not much of a base runner, but that’s not his game.

He’ll be battling Matt Beaty and others for the 26th spot on the Dodgers’ active roster this spring. If he doesn’t get it, he’ll go back to OKC and hit many homers until he is needed at the MLB level. He probably can’t wait for the designated hitter to come to the National League.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4545
Power6565
Speed3025
Defense4040
Arm6060
FV/Risk45Low

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Next Up: Prospect No. 10

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.