2022 Dodgers Digest Midseason Top 30 Prospects

Diego Cartaya (Photo: Cody Bashore)

It’s that time again. Josh and I are back with our midseason Top 30 prospects update. We waited until after the trade deadline because it would be a fruitless effort to publish this beforehand in case there were any deals for any generational-type players (which there weren’t — at least, not for the Dodgers).

The Dodgers did make a couple of prospect-involved deals prior to the deadline. Clayton Beeter went to the Yankees, while Alex De Jesus accompanied Mitch White to Toronto.

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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 our preseason Top 30.

No. 1

Dustin Nosler: C Diego Cartaya (3, +2)
– Just 20 years old, Cartaya is hitting just as well with Great Lakes as he did with Rancho Cucamonga. He’s so good he could move Will Smith to third base. Maybe it’s a good thing he didn’t go to Washington for Juan Soto.

Josh Thomas: Diego Cartaya (1)
– The Venezuelan backstop is delivering on the hype, putting together a monster offensive campaign, including a 162 wRC+ in his first six weeks at High-A Great Lakes. His defense behind the dish slipped a bit, most notably his pitch blocking, with a combination of poor anticipation and reads getting the best of him. To address this, the Dodgers have had him working to block everything, even with the bases empty. The mobility is there, just needs more experience.

No. 2

DN: RHP Bobby Miller (1, -1)
– My preseason No. 1 has been a bit inconsistent this season. Couple that with Cartaya’s strong performance and it makes sense for him to drop. However, he started the Futures Game and still has a bright future as the Dodgers’ best pitching prospect.

JT: Bobby Miller (2)
– While this season has been a bit uneven on paper, as Miller has progressed with gaining consistency with his four seam fastball shape, results have followed. When it has been off, it has flat run, following the barrel of a lefty bat. When it’s right, it has whiff-inducing carry, with barrels visibly underneath the pitch. You need more than a 100 MPH fastball to succeed, the shape has to be effective, and an ounce of patience now with Miller while he gets this locked in will pay dividends long-term.

No. 3

DN: 3B/1B Miguel Vargas (2, -1)
– He just made his MLB debut last week and has done nothing but hit in his entire professional career. His ceiling may not be as high as Cartaya or Miller’s, but he’s the best-hitting prospect the Dodgers have. His defense needs some work, though.

JT: Miguel Vargas (3)
– Vargas continues to show a high floor, with glimpses of a higher ceiling than the data previously indicated. He’s still controlling the zone, with first half strikeout and walk rates of 14.4% and 12.2%. His max exit velo of 112.7 MPH is higher than any figure posted by a Dodger this season. An increased hard hit rate will be the difference between a plus hit tool regular, and a first-division bat. Defensively, he’s looking below average at 3B, and he has spent more time recently in left field.

No. 4

DN: RHP Gavin Stone (18, +14)
– I’m shocked I have Stone ranked higher than Josh does, but he has 1.35 ERA in 93 1/3 innings in the minors this season. He’s also running an elite-level 23.7 K-BB%. He just might be the best bet of any Dodger pitching prospect to stick in the rotation thanks to improved stuff and plus-command/control.

JT: 2B Michael Busch (4)
– After a dominant run with Double-A Tulsa, Busch has been scuffling a bit in Triple-A. The strikeouts are up, the walks are down, but he still has a plus eye, and is getting accustomed to the ABS system. He has shown good pop, with a max exit velo of 112.2 MPH, and at the Allstar Break, 44.5% of his batted balls at the level were 95 MPH or greater. He’s still looking like a below average defender at second base, but he can make the routine plays.

No. 5

DN: Michael Busch (4, -1)
– Busch has tapped into his plus-raw power, and it’s showing up in-game. Between Tulsa and OKC, he has 24 home runs, 26 doubles and a solid .363 on-base percentage. He has even dabbled a bit in left field this season, in the Dodgers’ effort to increase Busch’s utility.

JT: Gavin Stone (14, +9)
– After adding a little muscle, Stone’s breaking out. Listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, he’s reportedly up to 195 pounds, and he had a huge first half — 1.53 ERA, 2.15 FIP, reaching 98 MPH, and hitting 95 MPH at 90+ pitches. Both his slider and changeup are at least plus, as are his command and pitchability. His curve went from a strike stealer to more of a hammer at 82-84 when it’s right. It’s not a prototypical workhorse build, but it is a big league starter repertoire.

No. 6

DN: RHP Ryan Pepiot (5, -1)
– Another Dodger prospect to debut this season, Pepiot’s command is still a work in progress, but his slider is improving. The fastball and (especially) changeup are still there, so building confidence in the spinner and improving command are the only things holding him back from truly taking off.

JT: Ryan Pepiot (5, -1)
– Pepiot’s fastball command in his first handful of big league starts was severely lacking, but after a focus on holding the outer lane at OK, he showed solid . Both the heater and the slider he revamped in the offseason have shown plus spin, sitting in the 89th and 85th percentiles at the major league level, respectively. Though he possesses an 80 grade changeup, the aforementioned components have to stick to be a mid-rotation starter.

No. 7

DN: OF Andy Pages (6, -1)
– Pages has done a solid job of keeping his swing-and-miss in check while still producing above-average power. He’s still just 21 and performing in Double-A, so the results have been encouraging, even if he’s far from a finished product.

JT: Andy Pages (6, -1)
– There has been a bit of a learning curve for Pages at the Double-A level, as Texas League pitchers have been able to attack him vertically, inducing some weaker contact and whiffs at the top of the zone. All is most certainly not lost – still just 21, Pages has made adjustments, which include dramatically reducing his leg kick to one that’s more conservative, which has helped lead to a drop in strikeouts.

No. 8

DN: RHP Nick Nastrini (NR)
– A preseason oversight on both our parts, Nastrini has made quite the strong first impression in his debut season. He has a Gavin Stone-esque 23.7 K-BB% with Great Lakes. He has been a touch wild and home run-prone, so there are some things for him to work on going forward. The Dodgers are bringing him along slowly (80 1/3 IP in 20 starts), but they may have found yet another gem.

JT: RHP Landon Knack (8)
– Nagging injuries have continued to get in the way, as Knack’s season got off to a late start, and was interrupted by a brief injured list stint in July. He has added velocity since being drafted, even hitting 100 MPH in spring, and both his strikeout and whiff rates have increased in his second run at Double-A Tulsa, though his walk rate increased as well. He has been working in a cutter that has been hit or miss. Starter toolkit, SIRP possibility due to health.

No. 9

DN: RHP Landon Knack (7, -2)
– Injuries have somewhat derailed (delayed?) his ascendance up the prospect list. He still possesses, as Josh said, the “starter toolkit,” but if he can’t stay healthy or show he can pitch deep into outings, his future might be in the bullpen. If he does move there, he could be up as early as next season due to his electric stuff.

JT: LHP Maddux Bruns (13, +4)
– Bruns made several mechanical improvements between the summer 2020 showcase circuit and the 2021 draft that helped rein in his incredible stuff, though his command has still come and gone at times. When it’s all working, it’s a 60-grade fastball, 60 slider, and a 70 curve, showing a top-of-the-rotation ceiling.

No. 10

DN: OF Jose Ramos (11, +1)
– Some of the best raw power in the system, Ramos has shown it off this season. He has 23 home runs — 17 at Great Lakes — and a nifty .260 ISO. His 30 K% is a bit concerning, but that’s always been a bit of an issue for him. The Double-A proving ground awaits him next season, when he’ll be 22 years old.

JT: Jose Ramos (10)
– Big pop for a wiry frame, and is right there with Pages for the best outfield arm in the system, but needs to improve the bat to ball. We have all seen countless prospects who fit this type – the toolshed whose hit tool needs a bump – come and go, but Ramos shows exceptional quickness with his hands, which is a tremendous foundation from which to build.

No. 11

DN: CF James Outman (15, +4)
– The third significant Dodger prospect to debut this season, Outman got off to a blazing start with LA before cooling off and being optioned. Still, he’s the best defensive outfielder in the system (a true center fielder), has some of the best athleticism and average-or-better power. Strikeouts and hitting against lefties could be an issue for him, but he should carve out a nice career as — at worst — the left-handed side of a platoon.

JT: SS Jacob Amaya (16, +5)
– The best defensive shortstop in the organization right now, Amaya got off to a blazing hot start in the first six weeks, but he cooled off substantially as pitchers began busting him up and in with fastballs, then going offspeed away. With solid OBP skills and plus bat to ball, there’s a chance for him to be an everyday shortstop, floor is a utility guy.

No. 12

DN: C Dalton Rushing (NR)
– While he wouldn’t have been my pick for the Dodgers at No. 40 in the most recent draft, Rushing possesses a potentially plus-bat from behind the plate, and we know how much the Dodgers love their catchers who can hit. His development will be one to monitor closely.

JT: Nick Nastrini (NR)
– The former UCLA Bruin’s plus four pitch mix has him looking like an incredible get in the 4th round of the 2021 draft. With a fastball up to 97 MPH, and three legit secondaries, he’s looking like the first round talent he was thought to be while at UCLA. He currently ranks second in the system at swinging strike rate with 16.4% (min 50 IP).

No. 13

DN: Maddux Bruns (14, +1)
– Bruns still has, perhaps, the best stuff in the system, but sometimes, he has no clue where it’s going. Like Nastrini, the Dodgers are bringing him along slowly — 30 2/3 IP in 15 starts. He has 48 strikeouts against 27 walks in those innings. Expect to see him be given more of a leash next season, after a full winter of pro instruction.

JT: RHP Edgardo Henriquez (NR)
– Only recently turned 20, Henriquez hits triple digits in just about every outing, and has been as high as 101 this season. Last summer, he was throwing a slurvy breaker, which leads to one of the most impressive aspects of his game – feel for spin. He has separated the slurve into a sharp slider and a hammer curve, and they have remained distinct throughout the season. He could stand to improve delivery tempo, but the ceiling here is huge.

No. 14

DN: SS/2B/OF Eddys Leonard (10, -4)
– After a breakout 2021, 2022 has been a bit of a slog for Leonard so far. He’s still hitting a respectable .269/.356/.428 for Great Lakes, but for a guy repeating the level (184 plate appearances last year), he would have taken a step forward and forced his way to Tulsa. He still has Chris Taylor-like upside.

JT: RHP Nick Frasso (NR)
– A rare college draftee who oozed projection, Frasso jumped from 91-95 MPH to hitting triple digits less than a year after he was picked. He is still ramping up from Tommy John surgery, and has been limited to four innings, so whether he can hold velo late into contests is as yet unknown. As much as 100 is eye-catching, his changeup might be the real breadwinner – its spin rate would rank second in all of MLB, and the 18.2 inches of horizontal movement would rank sixth. He’s a very impressive acquisition.

No. 15

DN: Nick Frasso (NR)
– Acquired in the Mitch White deal (that also sent Alex De Jesus — who would have been firmly in my Top 15), Frasso is coming back from TJ and it looks like his stuff may have taken a step forward from his draft scouting reports. He’ll be brought along slowly, as most guys coming back from TJ are. The next couple years could be quite interesting for the local product.

JT: Outman (11, -4)
– Outman remains one of the better defensive outfielders in the system, and he continues to show solid pop, though he does have wide splits that will likely limit him to a platoon role. Poor man’s Joc Pederson with the bat, rich man’s Joc Pederson with the glove, that’s a highly useful big league roster piece.

No. 16

DN: LHP Ronan Kopp (NR)
– Kopp has shown some tremendous stuff in his full-season ball debut, and the results haven’t been half-bad, either — 2.29 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 26.7 K-BB%. The JuCo draftee has a chnace to develop into a starting pitcher if he can sustain velo into his outings, improve his secondaries and command — you know, basically everything that makes a starting pitcher a starting pitcher. But with the Dodgers’ developmental team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him jump even more these rankings in the future.

JT: Ronan Kopp (NR)
– The 6-foot-7 Kopp has a fastball up to 99 MPH and three secondaries, the best of which being a slider. He has been missing bats all season at a clip that’s been at or near the top of the charts for all of MiLB, and he looks like an absolute steal in the 12th round. His future role is undetermined, but with his premium frame and velo, they’ll trot him out as a starter for the foreseeable future.

No. 17

DN: 2B/3B Jorbit Vivas (15, -2)
– Similar to Leonard, Vivas hasn’t improved as expected while repeating High-A. He has a solid .266/.375/.440 line with more walks than strikeouts (46), but he hasn’t taken the next step. He’s still just 21, so there’s time. And the bat is probably going to have to improve as he isn’t playing as much third base this season as he did last season.

JT: RHP Michael Grove (18, +1)
– Midseason mechanical adjustments for Grove paid off, as he rose all the way to the major league level in 2022. Despite having two plus secondaries, including a curve he can ramp up to the 84 MPH range as a putaway pitch, barring an adjustment, his fastball may be too straight to remain a starter long-term. Still, the turnaround is remarkable, and the floor is as a MIRP.

No. 18

DN: Michael Grove (21, +3)
– Grove has also debuted this season (4 2/3 IP), and while the overall results haven’t been great, the stuff has looked solid. His future might be in the bullpen and he might have to reduce the fastball usage, unless he can get some more action on the offering.

JT: Dalton Rushing (NR)
– Rushing was a bit of a pop-up guy at draft time due to having spent a couple of seasons as the understudy to 2021 No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis. He has the athleticism to catch, though it will take some polishing, and his eye, along with his short levers and lofted swing, should lead to plus offensive package behind the plate. It’s all about taking that BPA, and Rushing fit the bill on draft day.

No. 19

DN: RHP Emmet Sheehan (NR)
– At 22, Sheehan has done some impressive things in the Midwest League so far this season, despite spending a month on the IL after his first appearance. He had a string of six appearances from June 15 through July 14 in which he didn’t allow a run (22 2/3 innings) and struck out 40 hitters against six walks. Overall, he has a 3.50 ERA, 2.77 FIP and a 23.5 K-BB%. He’s a sleeper to rise up the list in the coming years.

JT: SS/2B Rayne Doncon (HM)
– Doncon has some of the best bat speed in the system, and he pairs it with advanced feel for barrel and a flatter swing plane, so it’s more of a line drive approach that generates lots of doubles now, that will turn into homers later. Defensively, he has the chops to stick on the dirt, though he may outgrow short and slide over to third. All in all, he has one of the more exciting offensive toolkits in the system.

No. 20

DN: RHP Carlos Duran (24, +5)
– It feels like Duran has been in the system for a while and should be older than 21, but he has been and he isn’t! He’s missing a lot of bats in the Midwest League and, if he can stay healthy, should continue to impress. He has a large frame and the stuff to match.

JT: Emmet Sheehan (30, +10)
– Sheehan has an exceptional, whiff-inducing front to back combo – a 70-grade vertical approach angle on a 4-seamer up to 98 MPH, and a 70-grade changeup that has a parachute attached. He’ll need his curve to come along to remain as a starter, but it’s an intriguing package just the same.

No. 21

DN: RHP Peter Heubeck (19, -1)
– Last year’s 3rd-rounder, Heubeck is being brought along slowly, as the Dodgers seem to do with their prep pitching prospects. He has struck out 22 in 16 1/3 innings with Rancho. Next season should see an increase in workload before really taking the reins off in 2024.

JT: Eddys Leonard (17, -4)
– It has been a season of ups and downs for Leonard, with a slow start followed by a scorching May, a June that saw his K% shoot up to more than 30%, and a return to normalcy in July. He’s at his best when he’s utilizing his plus bat speed to shoot line drives all over the field, and running into enough dingers to give him 15-20 homer pop. Though he has been mostly at short, his future is at 2B/3B or the OF.

No. 22

DN: Rayne Doncon (NR)
– Another preseason oversight by me, Doncon’s potential is apparent. In the Arizona Complex League, he has a .248/.287/.441 line, which isn’t overly impressive on the surface. But he’s just 18 years old and is oozing with projection in his 6-foot-2, 176-pound frame. He could be the next good shortstop prospect in the system.

JT: Jorbit Vivas (19, -3)
– Plus bat speed with on base skills, Vivas could still stand to get a bit stronger. He’s elevating the ball more than ever this season, though with mixed results due to being a bit undersized. Still, it’s hard not to bet on a hit tool like this, especially when it comes with excellent pitch recognition.

No. 23

DN: SS Wilman Diaz (12, -11)
– Diaz has been one of my most disappointing prospect this season. It’s hard not to look at the results and be discouraged, despite being just 18. However, a .166/.213/.233 line will do that to a prospector. Diaz was a big-time international amateur free agent, so the pedigree is there. But this has not been a great stateside debut for him.

JT: RHP Andre Jackson (7, -16)
– For most of the season, Jackson’s fastball sat around 92 MPH, and it had high variance, sometimes ranging from 89-94 from pitch to pitch. Along came late July, when something seemed to have clicked, as his average velo jumped up 2 ticks to 94, and topping out at 96. Whether something clicked mechanically for the long-term, or it’s just a brief gout of fire, it remains to be seen.

No. 24

DN: Edgardo Henriquez (NR)
– An unheralded IFA, Henriquez opened some eyes in his pro debut last season. This season, he’s pitching in full-season ball and holding his own. He has a 4.24 ERA and a 16.9 K-BB%. He has seen his walk rate improve and his stuff has helped keep his strikeout rate up. He’ll be a kid to watch over the next couple of years. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the Top 10 by this time next year.

JT: OF Jonny DeLuca (NR)
– A speedster as an Oregon Duck, DeLuca has filled out as a pro, and has grown into at least 50-grade power. That hasn’t come at the expense of contact, as he is posting strikeout rates in the mid-teens. Defensively, he is solid in both right and left, and he can play center in a pinch, though he gets exposed a bit. Might not have a fit with this big league roster, but he’ll play somewhere.

No. 25

DN: RHP Joel Ibarra (NR)
– Originally signed as a shortstop, Ibarra gave that up after hitting just .177 in his debut season. He was moved to the mound and really took off. He doesn’t have the longest in-game track record, but the reports on his stuff are glowing due to better sitting fastball velo and high-spin sliders. He even has a potentially legitimate changeup. He doesn’t have a prototypical starter’s frame, but his arm will play in most roles — at least, for now.

JT: Carlos Duran (20, -5)
– The massive righty has mixed in more four seamers and changeups this season, along with adding in hesitations at various points in his delivery. Since he’s 6-foot-7, the stops and starts can make things a bit complicated at times, throwing off the timing of his delivery. Overall, it’s plus stuff in a monstrous package that still needs refinement.

No. 26

DN: LHP Octavio Becerra (HM)
– Becerra has delivered good results in limited MiLB action. His stuff looked to be taking a step forward before going down with an injury that landed him on the 60-day IL. He’s projectable and someone to dream on.

JT: Joel Ibarra (NR)
– The converted shortstop can run it up to 98 MPH with extreme flat plane on his fastball, and he complements it with a plus-slider, and a changeup that’s a work in progress. Command comes and goes at times, and his arm action can get long in the back, but it’s a first-round quality talent package.

No. 27

DN: C Jesus Galiz (26, -1)
– Yet another quality catching prospect in the system, he is known more for his defense, but he could be a solid on-base guy with the bat (also with some sneaky pop). He’s young, so there’s more time for development, and we know the Dodgers can do just that with catchers.

JT: Jesus Galiz (HM)
– One of the better, more natural defenders behind the dish in the system, Galiz’s bat has come around quickly as well, despite a bit of swing and miss. He is drawing a decent number of walks, showing pop, and all this as just 18 years old. The catching situation in the organization is simply wild right now, top to bottom.

No. 28

DN: RHP Andre Jackson (9, -19)
– Jackson’s performance has left a lot to be desired. He has been better of late, but he was running a nearly 1:1 BB:K ratio for a while. That’d be good, if he were a hitter. He had the look of a back-end starter for the last year or so. Now, he might be slated for long or middle relief.

JT: RHP Kyle Hurt (25, -3)
– Hurt continues to show top shelf stuff, but the command, while improved since joining the organization, is largely holding steady. He’s at his best when he isn’t too fine, attacking in the zone and daring guys to swing. Another guy with a starter toolkit, but as he is already 24, it’s likely a reliever profile unless something clicks relatively quickly.

No. 29

DN: C/2B Yeiner Fernandez (NR)
– Fernandez is going the Austin Barnes route with his positioning. His future is still likely behind the plate, but having second base in his utility belt isn’t a bad thing. He’s hitting .290/.382/.420 with Rancho and is capable of spraying line drives all over the field.

JT: Peter Heubeck (22, -8)
– Still oozing with projection, the 6-foot-3, lean righty, who can pump 95 MPH with a hammer of a curve, has been solid in limited action with Rancho Cucamonga. He reportedly has a solid average slider and changeup as well, so all in all, it’s a mid-rotation package if he can add the weight and tighten up command.

No. 30

DN: OF Jonny DeLuca (HM)
– If he were a year or two older, DeLuca would be much higher on this list. He has actually hit better with Tulsa than he did with Great Lakes, and is hitting .260/.347/.541 overall with 25 home runs and 17 stolen bases on the season. The Dodgers will have a 40-man roster decision to make on him in the winter.

JT: Wilman Diaz (12, -18)
– Diaz is in the process of undergoing a swing change, utilizing his legs more, and keeping his hands closer into his body, as opposed to the more rotational swing he had as an amateur. As such, ignoring the complex league stats at the moment is the best bet, since he is a work in progress. He’s still a potential five tool star who will stick at short, though he may be farther away than most top of the IFA class types of signees.

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Next 5

DN: RHP Hyun-il Choi, RHP Braydon Fisher, OF/1B Yunior Garcia, LHP Lael Lockhart, OF Ryan Ward

JT: SS Alex Freeland, SS Austin Gauthier, OF Damon Keith, 1B Samuel Munoz, OF Jake Vogel

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That’ll do it for our rankings until next year. But please, stay tuned for all of Josh’s awesome, mostly daily, prospect content.

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.