2021 Dodgers Top 50 Prospects: 30-21

Robinson Ortiz. Photo by: Cody Bashore

We have reached the Top 30 of my Top 50 prospects countdown. You’re going to see a lot of familiar names, but also a couple new ones who will be guys to watch going forward.

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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 (though, not this year), 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 2021 season age for the player (June 30 is the cutoff date).

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30. RHP Jerming Rosario

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’1/175/19R/RChangeupIFA: Dominican, ’18No. 4/5 SP/MIRP29Low-A RC2024

Strengths

  • Advanced feel for teenage pitcher
  • Changeup shows well
  • Breaking stuff getting better

Weaknesses

  • Slight build; concerns about starting long-term
  • No true out pitch
  • Fastball velo lacking

Summary

Rosario was the other big signing of the 2018 class that saw the Dodgers land Diego Cartaya. He signed for $600,000, and he might end up being a bargain at that price.

His low-90s fastball is unspectacular, but he’s able to put it where he wants. There’s an outside chance he adds velo as he gets more instruction from the Dodgers’ developmental staff, but he doesn’t have a ton of projection left. His curveball has improved since being signed. It’s not a true out pitch, but it gives him another legitimate pitch against opposing hitters. His best pitch is a changeup in the high-70s to low-80s range that features good fade and can miss a few bats.

Rosario finishes his pitches well, which helps his present and future command/control grades. A lot can change in the next handful of years, but Rosario profiles as a serviceable strike-thrower. He may not be a 10-plus K/9 guy, but he could be a solid back-end starter. If not, he could be a multi-inning reliever, where his stuff could play up. He might begin with the AZL Dodgers, but he could see Low-A Rancho before season’s end.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball3550
Curveball3550
Changeup4055
Command/Control4055
FV/Risk45High

29. CF James Outman

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’3/220/24L/RSpeed7th round, ’184th OF63High-A GL/Double-A Tulsa2022

Strengths

  • Legitimate defender in center field
  • Premium athlete
  • Plus-speed

Weaknesses

  • Swing-and-miss concerns
  • Untested above Low-A
  • Might struggle against premium stuff

Summary

An overlooked 7th-round selection out of baseball powerhouse Sacramento State, Outman has made an impression in the system and could be another hit the draft outside the Top 2-3 rounds by Billy Gasparino and his crew.

At the plate, Outman is a pull-conscious hitter with above-average raw power to that side. He makes a lot of loud contact, which dates back to his college days. His power takes a hit against left-handed pitching, which isn’t uncommon. Advanced pitching might be able to exploit his approach, so he’s going to need to adjust to that going forward. That, coupled with his higher-than-ideal strikeout rates (25% and up) might mean he’s a fourth outfielder at the next level, but he still has plenty of value.

Outman is a premium defender in center field thanks to legitimate plus-speed. He takes good routes to the ball and his arm — above-average for right field — plays up in center field. With his speed, he could be a 20-plus stolen base threat.

If he sounds a lot like the recently traded Cody Thomas, that’s because the profiles are terribly similar. Outman is a better bet to stick in center field, while Thomas has more power potential. Outman’s 2021 season will be one to monitor. There’s a non-zero chance he can make it to Double-A this season.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit3545
Power4050
Speed6060
Defense5060
Arm5055
FV/Risk45Extreme

28. OF/1B Luke Raley

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’4/235/26L/RPowerTrade w/ MIN, 2/204th OF/bench LHHNRTriple-A OKC/LA2021

Strengths

  • Above-average power
  • Strong arm
  • Better runner than expected

Weaknesses

  • Limited to 1B/LF/RF defensively
  • Hits too many grounders
  • Older for prospect

Summary

Raley was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He was traded to the Twins in the Brian Dozier deal, and then he was sent back to the Dodgers in the Kenta MaedaBrusdar Graterol deal last winter. While he didn’t play despite being on the 40-man roster, chatter is that he was one of the more impressive performers at the alternate site during the truncated 2020 season.

He has plus-raw power thanks to some natural loft in his left-handed swing. He makes a lot of loud contact and can hit the ball really far. The concern is that he’s strikeout prone, and has been since debuting in 2016. In his last game action in 2019 with the Twins, he struck out more than 30% of the time in, admittedly, a small sample size (158 plate appearances). Raley has been pretty good against left-handed pitching in his minor-league career, but we’ve seen guys hit same-handed pitching in the minors only to struggle against it at the next level (Joc Pederson comes to mind). He has always been a bit older than the average age of his competition, which could play into this.

Defensively, Raley holds his own, especially for his size. He runs a lot better than you’d expect from a guy with his frame, which means he could stick in a corner outfield spot, where he has plenty of arm for right field. If he has to move to first base, his arm will be wasted there.

Raley should be able to carve out a nice role as a 4th outfielder/left-handed bench bat in the majors. He’ll begin the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City with a chance to reach Los Angeles if the left-handed corner guys ahead of him (Matt Beaty, Edwin Rios) struggle and/or get hurt.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4045
Power5555
Speed5045
Defense4545
Arm5555
FV/Risk40Medium

27. RHP Mitch White

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’3/210/26R/RCurveball2nd round, ’16Multi-inning RP26Triple-A OKC/LADebuted 2020

Strengths

  • Premium stuff, when he’s healthy
  • Strong frame
  • One of the best curves in system

Weaknesses

  • Difficulty staying healthy
  • Velo fluctuates at times
  • SP days might be behind him

Summary

If you’ve followed me and/or this series over the years, you know I’ve long been a fan of Mr. White. I saw him in person in 2017 and was convinced he was going to be the next great Dodgers’ starting pitching prospect. Almost four years later and he hasn’t quite panned out as I expected. Yes, he made his MLB debut in 2020, but his days of being a frontline SP prospect are probably in the rearview mirror.

When he’s on, White has a mid-90s fastball that plays well up in the strike zone. It sits more in the 92-94 MPH range these days. His curveball is his money pitch. It’s a true 12-6 hammer that sits in the low-80s. He also has a slider/cutter hybrid that he still hasn’t been able to refine to make it more effective. He also has a seldomly used changeup that will probably be scrapped soon.

He has an almost over-the-top delivery that helps him get downward plane on his pitches. At times, the arm angle will drop slightly to help give him some arm-side run on his fastball/sinker. It also comes with diminished command/control of his offerings. He gets out of sync with his delivery at times, but when he’s in sync, the ball comes out of his hand well.

Inconsistency, thy name is Mitch White. He probably has a future as a multi-inning reliever. If he (and the Dodgers) really wanted to maximize his arm talent, they could have him focus solely on his fastball and curveball and try to turn him into a power/late-inning reliever. But his command/control and healthy will determine how far he goes in the majors. He’ll begin with Triple-A Oklahoma City and could see LA (again) at some point in 2021.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball5555
Curveball6060
Slider4550
Changeup4040
Command/Control4045
FV/Risk40Medium

26. 2B Omar Estevez

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
5’10/197/23R/RHitIFA: Cuba, ’152nd-div MIF12Triple-A OKC2021

Strengths

  • Above-average hit tool
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Untapped power

Weaknesses

  • Might be 2B only on defense
  • Power still not fully unlocked
  • A little stiff on the field

Summary

Estevez has always performed well at whichever level he played since signing out of Cuba for $6 million in 2015. And he’s always been significantly younger than the average age of the competition. He’s always had an advanced feel for hit thanks to good hand-eye coordination and a line-drive approach. He doesn’t get a lot of natural lift in his swing, so he’s had a hard time elevating, which has led to some good-not-great power numbers.

Defensively, Estevez has seen time at shortstop in the minors, but he hasn’t fared particularly well there. He profiles much better at second base, where his fringy arm plays better, as does his lack of natural quickness.

I’ve always gotten a Howie Kendrick vibe from him and his profile. If he has a Kendrick-like career, I’m sure he and the Dodgers would be pleasantly surprised by that. Perhaps he adds some defensively versatility to his defensive profile to boost his overall value. He’s probably going to hit enough to make the majors one day, but the development of his power will determine if he comes close to reaching his ceiling. There are infielders ahead of him on the 40-man roster, but not many right-handed hitting ones. If the Dodgers get in a bind, Estevez could be added to the 40-man and see LA at some point in 2021.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4555
Power4045
Speed4040
Defense4045
Arm4045
FV/Risk40Medium

25. LHP Robinson Ortiz

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’0/190/21L/LChangeupIFA: Dominican, ’17No. 4/5 SP/MIRP27High-A GL/Double-A Tulsa2023

Strengths

  • Potential for added velocity
  • Changeup consistently good
  • Curveball improving

Weaknesses

  • Smaller frame
  • Command wavers
  • Might be a reliever

Summary

Ortiz has been on the radar for the last couple years as a potential breakout guy, which is what the Dodgers were looking for when they signed him for $60,000 back in 2017. Early reports from Spring Training last year were promising, but COVID-19 and the shutdown put a stop to that. Still, he has shown flashes of an MLB pitcher in his MiLB career and has always performed against significantly older competition.

Ortiz brings inconsistent yet promising fastball velocity from the left side. He used to sit in the 90-93 MPH, but he touched 98 MPH last spring, which could lead to a velo bump if he sticks as a starting pitcher. Still, he can be plenty effective in that low-90s range, which plays up because he’s a lefty and because it has some movement. His curveball has come along since even last year, and has displayed some above-average spin. His changeup still reigns as his best pitch. It has flashed plus at times, but will probably settle in at above-average.

An adjustment to his mechanics and stride could help him unlock some consistent increased velocity and, conversely, make his other pitches better and more effective. However, he has struggled to throw strikes consistently in the past, and even with the mechanical changes, it’s going to be the thing that holds him back from being a Julio Urias-esque pitcher going forward. An assignment to High-A Great Lakes (where he pitched in ’19) seems to be in order, with an outside chance of reaching Double-A Tulsa with a strong showing.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball4055
Curveball3550
Changeup4555
Command/Control3045
FV/Risk45High

24. RHP Jimmy Lewis

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’6/215/21R/RCurveball2nd round, 19No. 3/4 SP31Low-A RC2023

Strengths

  • Curveball is above-average
  • Improved changeup
  • Command/control profiles well

Weaknesses

  • Fastball velo inconsistent
  • Injury concerns
  • Stiff delivery

Summary

The Dodgers made Lewis their 2nd-round pick in 2019 ($1.1 million signing bonus), but he has yet to debut in professional ball. Some of that is due to the pandemic, but he also had a slight tear in his labrum following his signing, which prevented him from debuting in ’19. Still, they have high hopes for him.

Lewis has a fastball that sits in the 90-93 MPH range, but his projectable frame could see that velo increase to the mid-90s. With the Dodgers’ developmental staff, that isn’t out of the question (but also isn’t a guarantee). It isn’t the typical high-spin fastball the Dodgers covet, but it has a chance to be effective. He pairs the fastball with a mid-70s 12-6 curveball that gets swinging strikes. It isn’t the best when it comes to advanced metrics, but he has advanced feel for it and has more confidence in it than any of his pitches. He also has a low-80s changeup that, even since being drafted, has improved. It may not be prime-Eric Gagne, but it’s a more viable offering, giving him a better chance to stick in the rotation.

Despite a bit of a stiff delivery, Lewis has good feel for his pitches, which leads to an above-average future grade on his command/control. He has an over-the-top release point. People want the comp to be Dustin May (6-foot-6, right-handed, from Texas), but he isn’t. He profiles as a mid-rotation starter with a chance to go either way, depending on the development of his pitches and, more importantly, his health. He should begin with Low-A Rancho.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball3550
Curveball4055
Changeup3555
Command/Control4055
FV/Risk45High

23. RHP Edwin Uceta

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’0/155/23R/RChangeupIFA: Dominican, ’16Multi-inning RP16Triple-A OKC/LA2021

Strengths

  • Changeup misses bats
  • Athletic
  • Good makeup

Weaknesses

  • Fastball velocity lacking
  • Limited ceiling
  • Slight frame

Summary

Uceta showed well at the alternate site and in the Dominican Winter League in 2020, which came on the heels of a solid 2019 season with the Quakes and Drillers. He was suspended by the Dodgers last season for breaking COVID-19 protocols while at the alt site, but that wasn’t enough to deter the Dodgers from adding him to the 40-man roster in November.

Uceta has a fastball that sits in the low-90s with some movement. He can run it up to 95 MPH, but he has better command/control with it when he takes a couple ticks off. His high-70s curveball has flashed above-average at times, but it’s slightly inconsistent. It’s a bit slurvy and seems to be more effective against right-handed hitters than it is lefties. His best offspeed pitch is a low-80s changeup that he’ll throw to either-handed hitter in any count. He has great confidence in the pitch. He does a good job of consistently repeating the release point and arm speed on it to make it look like a fastball coming out of his hand. He has an athletic frame that helps him repeat his delivery consistently. He has a quick arm and delivers his pitchers from a three-quarters arm slot.

Because of his slight frame, there’s concern about him handling a starter’s workload in the majors despite back-to-back 120+ IP seasons in the minors. With that profile is changing in MLB, perhaps there’s a chance for Uceta to make shortened starts. He profiles more as a multi-inning reliever to me, which is the equivalent of a short-starter. He should be with OKC to begin the season with a very real chance of reaching LA at some point in 2021.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball4545
Curveball4550
Changeup5560
Command/Control5555
FV/Risk40Low

22. RHP Michael Grove

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
6’3/200/24R/RSlider2nd round, ’18No. 4/5 SP/MIRP17Double-A Tulsa2022

Strengths

  • Strong breaking pitches
  • Starter’s frame
  • Not a lot of mileage on arm

Weaknesses

  • Limited workload
  • Fastball command/velo inconsistent
  • Changeup lacking

Summary

Grove was the recipient of most of JT Ginn’s signing bonus in the 2018 draft after Ginn opted to attend Mississippi State University. Grove was coming off Tommy John surgery, so the Dodgers got him at a bit of a discount ($1,229,500) than if he had thrown in the ’18 NCAA season. His workload was monitored strictly in his first pro season with Rancho Cucamonga. He threw 51 2/3 innings in 21 starts (2.46 IP/GS). He got hit around a bit (.289 BAA, .412 BABIP), but he was able to post a 31.6 K% against a solid 8.2 BB%. Those peripherals are promising.

On the mound, Grove operates with a fastball in the 90-96 MPH range. If that range is a bit big, that’s because he’s inconsistent with the velocity. Sometimes he’s 90-93 MPH, other times he’s 94-96 MPH. At either velocity range, the fastball is bit straight, but it has really good spin and works well at the top of the zone. He also employs a high-80s slider that misses bats. Since turning pro, he has added a low-80s curveball that has good vertical movement. He also has a below-average changeup that will probably be scrapped before too long.

Grove has some deception in his delivery and an over-the-top release point. That helps him get some spin on his fastball and better vertical movement on his breaking pitches. He’ll get out of sync at times, which leads to command issues. However, he’s athletic enough to repeat it consistently, so there’s hope for average command/control.

We’ll see how the Dodgers deploy Grove this season. He’s in camp with the big league team, so it shows they think highly of him. They will keep trying him as a starter until he proves he can’t be successful there. Extended outings could see his stuff and velo drop a tick or two, which means a multi-inning or late-inning relief role could be in his future. Being 24 already, he should probably go straight to Double-A to begin 2021.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball4050
Curveball4555
Slider5060
Changeup3540
Command/Control3545
FV/Risk45High

21. CF Jake Vogel

Ht/Wt/AgeB/TBest ToolAcquiredRole2020 Rank2021 LocationETA
5’11/165/19R/RSpeed3rd round, 20Everyday CFNRAZL/Low-A RC2021

Strengths

  • Plus-plus runner
  • Premium athleticism
  • Legitimate center fielder

Weaknesses

  • Power is lacking
  • No pro experience
  • Slight frame

Summary

When the Dodgers popped Vogel in the third round of the most recent draft, it wasn’t terribly surprising. They’ve been pretty successful with prep bats in recent years (Corey Seager, Gavin Lux). What was surprising was the $1.65 million signing bonus they gave him, roughly equivalent to the 45th overall pick (he was No. 100). They obviously like what they see in the kid.

With the bat, Vogel profiles to be a contact-over-power guy, but there is a chance to unlock some pop. He has a compact swing and mature-for-his-age approach, and he makes some loud contact. With more instruction, the Dodgers might be able to get to some of his power. But if he’s a 10 HR guy who doesn’t strike out and makes contact, coupled with his defense, that’s a premium player.

Vogel’s speed and defense are his present calling cards. He’s a double-plus runner with a plus-arm and plus-defense in center field. If he has to move off center, it would put more stress on his bat, but barring anything unforeseen, he’s a center fielder.

If everything comes together, you could have a 3-4-WAR center fielder. If Vogel struggles, he could carve out a nice career as a fourth outfielder thanks to his speed and defense. Having turned 19 in October, there isn’t a need to rush him. He’ll probably begin the season with the AZL Dodgers. If he does move up, it’d be to Low-A Rancho, but that seems more realistic for the 2022 season.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit2550
Power2040
Speed7070
Defense6060
Arm6060
FV/Risk50Extreme

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Next Up: Prospects 20-11

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. 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.