2021 Dodgers Top 50 prospects: Midseason Top 30 update

Diego Cartaya. Photo by: Cody Bashore

Thanks to the draft moving to the All-Star break, my midseason prospect update has moved to after the trade deadline. And this year, it turned out to be a good thing.

Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz — No. 1 and 6 in my preseason Top 50 — would have been 1-2 in this update. Alas, they were traded, along with Gerardo Carrillo (would have been in the 11-15 range) and Donovan Casey for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Because of that, we have a new No. 1 in the system and some other guys who normally wouldn’t have cracked the Top 10 are there now.

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Eligibility

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

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Midseason Top 30

Number in parenthesis represents where the player ranked in my preseason Top 50.

1. RHP Bobby Miller (5, +4)
– The 22-year-old is enjoying a great season in High-A and is almost assuredly heading to Double-A soon. He has a 2.03 ERA, 2.91 FIP and a 23.5 K-BB%. He has been dominant at times and is ready for another challenge. He should debut in the majors sometime in 2022.

2. 3B Miguel Vargas (3, +1)
– Power was the biggest question mark remaining with the 21-year-old, but Vargas’ power has shown up this season. Between High- and Double-A, he’s hitting .294/.365/.503 with a career-best 15 home runs while playing a solid third base. The year off hasn’t negatively impacted him.

3. C Diego Cartaya (4, +1)
– Cartaya, 19, started off his full-season debut with a bang. He’s hitting ,298/.409/.614 with 10 home runs in 137 plate appearances for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s been on the inactive list because of a visa issue, but he should be back soon. Keith Law ranked him as the 22nd-best prospect in baseball in his midseason Top 50, so he has made quite an impression around the league. His potential made it easier for the Dodgers to trade Ruiz.

4. 2B Michael Busch (2, -2)
– Busch got off to a quick start, but the 23-year-old battled through a nagging hand injury thanks to a hit-by-pitch at the end of May that saw him struggle in June (.167/.326/.181). However, got back on track in July and is hitting .246/.389/.449 on the campaign. He has the most complete offensive profile in the system and has handled second base well enough that he has a legitimate future there. He only drops because Miller and Cartaya have been awfully impressive.

5. RHP Ryan Pepiot (9, +4)
– Now the second-best pitching prospect in the system, Pepiot, 23, has been downright dominant at times this season. He has a 2.87 ERA, 3.75 FIP and a 23.6 K-BB%. His fastball and changeup have been his best offerings, with his change being the best pitch in the system. His slider has made significant strides forward and is becoming a legitimate third pitch. He’ll finish the season in Triple-A, if not the majors.

6. OF Andy Pages (10, +4)
– Pages has shown more power than anyone in the system. He’s second in the High-A Central League with 21 home runs, but he’s one of the youngest at just 20 years old. Overall, he’s hitting .258/.374/.543 and has seen his strikeout rate come down a bit since 2019. He’ll probably stick with Great Lakes the rest of the season, but 2022 has a chance to be a big year for Pages. Thankful everyday Arte Moreno vetoed that trade last winter.

7. RHP Andre Jackson (11, +4)
– Jackson, 25, is a solid follow-up to his 2019 season. He has a 3.27 ERA and a 21.7 K-BB%. His 4.71 FIP is a bit concerning, as he has given up 12 home runs in 63 1/3 innings, but he has reduced his walk rate substantially (5 percentage points) and earned a trip to the Futures Games in July.

8. RHP Clayton Beeter (8, -1)
– The No. 66 pick in the 2020 draft has shown good stuff in his abbreviated outings. Beeter, 22, has just 26 innings in 19 appearances (18 games), but that’s by design. He has pitched to a 4.15 ERA, 3.64 FIP and a 21.5 K-BB%. He might have the best stuff in the system, but the Dodgers are bringing him along slowly.

9. LHP Maddux Bruns (NR)
– The Dodgers’ 2021 1st-rounder, Bruns has a higher ceiling than a lot of guys who were available at No. 29 this year, but he also is a bit riskier. Still, the Dodgers’ player development staff has worked wonders with pitchers and they’ll try to turn Bruns into their next top pitching prospect.

10. RHP Landon Knack (16, +6)
– If Knack were a year or two younger (he’s 23), he’d be much higher on this list. He also wouldn’t have lasted until the 60th pick of the 2020 draft. Still, he has been impressive with his 2.50 ERA, 2.36 FIP and 32.5 K-BB% — all with High-A Great Lakes. He was just promoted to Double-A Tulsa and should debut at some point in 2022.

11. SS/3B Leonel Valera (37, +26)
– Valera has always had potential, and for the first time in his pro career, he’s realizing it. The 22-year-old is hitting .255/.331/.510 with 13 home runs and 14 stolen bases for Great Lakes while playing a strong shortstop. He’s still prone to chasing outside the strike zone (33.8 K%), but the power/speed combo and the ability to play shortstop bodes well for his future.

12. SS Wilam Diaz (13, +1)
– Still yet to debut, the Dodgers’ top international signing last year still has worlds of potential. He could, easily, top this list in a few years.

13. RHP Kendall Williams (18, +5)
– Williams, 20, has made a strong first impression in the Dodgers’ org. He’s been more stuff over results for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, but he still sports a sub-4 ERA and a 51.4 GB%. His strikeout rate is down from his debut, but he has plenty of time to figure things out. He still reminds a lot of scouts of Dustin May.

14. SS/3B Alex De Jesus (14)
– De Jesus is one of the youngest players in Low-A (19), and has been impressive. He’s hitting .249/.375/.434 with 10 home runs while playing almost exclusively shortstop for the Quakes. His future is probably at third base, but this power and ability to get on base will play at any position.

15. 2B Jorbit Vivas (47, +32)
– Vivas was on my radar preseason, but he exceeded the expectations of most. The 20-year-old is hitting .301/.378/.514 with 11 home runs, a 6.5 BB% and 11.2 K%. The power numbers may not be indicative of his future power, but the second baseman has a little pop and plenty of hit tool.

16. OF Luis Rodriguez (12, -4)
– Rodriguez has finally debuted after being the Dodgers’ top international signing a couple years ago. In the Arizoan Complex League, he’s hitting .215/.347/.443 with five home runs in 95 plate appearances thus far. The scouting reports on him aren’t as promising as they were when he signed, but he’s still just 18 years old and is full of potential.

17. 3B/1B Brandon Lewis (35, +18)
– Lewis, 22, is having a strong season between Low- and High-A. Overall, he’s hitting .272/.355/.585 with 22 home runs. His walk rate with Great Lakes has been a bit concerning (3.5 BB%), but his 12 homers in 110 plate appearances haven’t been. His defensive home is a question, but he should hit for either first- or third base going forward.

18. SS/2B Eddys Leonard (NR)
– Leonard was in the Top 100 of years past, but he missed the Top 50 this year. However, the 20-year-old infielder has burst onto the scene with Rancho and hit .297/.403/.551 with 14 home runs. He has played second base, third base and shortstop and continued to hit. A late-season promotion to High-A could be in order.

19. CF Jose Ramos (48, +29)
– Ramos is in a similar position as Leonard. He barely cracked the Top 50 and has only improved his stock thanks to a ridiculously unsustainable .402/.465/.696 batting line between the ACL and Low-A. While he’s playing center field now, he’s probably a right fielder in the long-run. He’s basically another version of Pages.

20. RHP Carlos Duran (44, +24)
– A hulking right-hander, Duran, 19, has an unimpressive 4.70 ERA, but a better 4.17 FIP and a very impressive 25.7 K-BB%. His stuff has improved (consistently 96-97 MPH) and his command has always been solid, even for a kid his age. He still needs some work, but he has mid-rotation starter upside.

21. OF James Outman (29, +8)
– Outman, 24, is one of the more athletic players in the system and has hit .254/.388/.468 with 10 home runs and 22 stolen bases between High- and Double-A. He’s a bit on the older side, but he has performed well in his third professional season. His time in Tulsa will help determine his future.

22. SS Jacob Amaya (15, -7)
– Amaya has made a change in his offensive profile. He’s not a high-contact, good plate discipline guy anymore. He started chasing power — and found some of it. It has come at the expensive of his overall offensive profile. He’s hitting just 214/.294/.355 with a career-best nine home runs and .171 ISO. He has seen his walk rate increase (7.9% to 10.2%), but his strikeouts have spiked (16.9% to 22.7%). He’ll need to decide what kind of hitter he wants to be, but the glove at shortstop is legit.

23. RHP Jerming Rosario (30 , +7)
– Rosario was the Dodgers’ second-biggest international signing in 2018, and he has made it stateside. With the ACL Dodgers, he has a 3.79 ERA, 4.60 FIP and a 26.3 K-BB%. The 19-year-old will be one to watch in the next few years.

24. RHP Mitch White (27, +3)
– White, still prospect-eligible, somehow, has actually flashed some oft he stuff he had shown so many years ago. He’s in a long-relief role with LA and a starter role with OKC. He still has some intriguing arm talent. The 26-year-old has a 3.75 ERA, 3.95 FIP and a 14.2 K-BB% in 24 innings with the Dodgers this season.

25. 3B Kody Hoese (8, -17)
– The 2019 1st-rounder has been one of the more disappointing prospects in the system this year, and it has been compounded by the rave reviews he was getting at the alternate site last year. Hoese, 24, hitting just .176/.242/.218 with a dreadful 27 wRC+ for Double-A Tulsa. He has been on the injured list with an intercostal strain, which hasn’t helped, but his issues go beyond the injuries.

26. RHP Hyun-il Choi (38, +12)
– Choi was an unheralded international signing out of South Korea, but the 21-year-old has been a bit of a revelation in 2021. He has a 3.17 ERA, 3.88 FIP and 27.6 K-BB% in 65 1/3 innings this season. His stuff has improved since he was signed, as he’s now sitting in the low-90s consistently and his slider and changeup have taken a step forward. A promotion to High-A Great Lakes can’t be too far off.

27. CF Jake Vogel (21, -6)
– The 2020 3rd-rounder began the season with Low-A Rancho with mixed results. He showed decent on-base skills and good defense, but he struggled with spin and struck out 32.5 percent of the time. He also missed time with an ankle injury. He should be back with Rancho soon and will be looking to have a stronger second half.

28. RHP Peter Heubeck (NR)
– The Dodgers gave Heubeck a big bonus as a 3rd-rounder this year, and all the metrics on his pitches are promising. It’s going to take some time, but the 18-year-old has No. 2/3 starter upside.

29. OF/1B Ryan Noda (NR)
– Noda, 25, has turned it on of late in Double-A and is hitting .237/.370/.500 with 18 home runs and is walking 14.5 percent of the time. He’s basically a Luke RaleyZach Reks clone, but could end up being more than just the “other guy” in the Ross Stripling deal.

30. C Carson Taylor (46, +16)
– Taylor was the Dodgers’ 4th-rounder in last year’s draft and has been really strong for the Loons. He’s hitting .287/.395/.437 with five home runs and nearly as many walks (31) as strikeouts (33). He should be ticketed for Double-A quite soon, with a chance to be the next in the line of good Dodger catching prospects.

And the next five, in alphabetical order: C Jesus Galiz (31), IF Sheldon Neuse (19), RHP Nick Robertson (32), LHP Alex Vesia (36) RHP Guillermo Zuniga (50)

Galiz is just 17 years old and in the infancy of his pro career. Neuse still has potential, despite his struggles. Robertson’s strikeouts have fallen off a bit, or he’d have easily made the Top 30. Vesia was dominant at times for OKC and could be a key factor in the Dodgers’ bullpen in the second half. Zuniga, 22, has improved from 2019 and looks like a potential late-inning reliever.

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

Here are guys ranked in the Top 50 who are no longer in the system:

  • Josiah Gray (1, traded)
  • Keibert Ruiz (6, traded)
  • DJ Peters (41, DFA)

Of note: Josh Sborz was originally ranked No. 42, but he was traded to the Rangers and was replaced on the Top 50 list by Gus Varland, who was acquired with Neuse for Adam Kolarek and Cody Thomas.

Dropped out of Top 30: Neuse (19), Michael Grove (22), Edwin Uceta (23), Jimmy Lewis (24), Robinson Ortiz (25), Omar Estevez (26), Luke Raley (28)

Moved into Top 30: Bruns (NR), Valera (11), Vivas (15), Lewis (35), Leonard (NR), Ramos (48), Duran (44), Choi (38), Heubeck (NR), Robertson (32), Taylor (46)

Graduated: Zach McKinstry (17)

Biggest riser: Vivas (+32)

Biggest faller: Lewis

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.