Dodgers Prospect Notes: Wrobleski excellent, Cartaya’s hot start, Hope & Ferris impress in debuts, Miller’s walk-off, more

Dodgers baseball has been back and now so are the prospects, and the Dodgers have a lot of them worth watching.


Top Farm Batter

Diego Cartaya got his season started on the right foot. The Venezuelan catcher started at DH for Tulsa last night and went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and two walks. Cartaya, 22, is back in Double-A after a rough 2023 season, and a rebound offensively could get him back to his previous premier prospect status.

Cartaya was the top prospect in the system by most accounts heading into last year, but that fell apart fast when he posted a .657 OPS in his first 93 Double-A games. However, he did continue making strides defensively, and he remains in a good position to become a Major League catcher if he returns to solid production offensively.


Top Farm Pitcher

Justin Wrobleski could be in store for a huge year, and he showed why with a great Opening Day start for Tulsa. Making his Double-A debut, Wrobleski tossed five quality innings with six strikeouts, allowing only one run which came on a solo homer. Allowing only three hits and one walk, Wrobleski showed off his deep arsenal that could translate to big success in 2024.

Wrobleski, 23, had a 2.90 ERA while throwing a shade over 100 innings in High-A last season. The southpaw did it while throwing six separate pitches and presenting one of the most unique looks off the mound in the system. If he takes another leap this year, he could become a household name in pitching prospect discussions across baseball.


Triple-A Oklahoma City Baseball Club

The Oklahoma City Baseball Club, who ditched the Dodgers name over the offseason, are now seven games into their schedule. Miguel Vargas, although no longer a prospect, has been the highlight of their offense so far with a 1.147 OPS. Andre Lipcius, who was acquired from Detroit in the spring, has also found early success.

Andy Pages and Trey Sweeney are the two top position player prospects that are beginning the season in OKC. Pages, who is coming off a torrid spring, has pretty much split his innings between right field and center field so far. Sweeney has already driven in four runs to go with eight walks as the everyday shortstop.

Landon Knack was the opening night starter for OKC and looked good. Through two starts, Knack has a 3.60 ERA and 5.00 K/BB rate.

His fastball velocity has sat around 92 mph, an uptick from where he was at before being shut down in late August last year. If he stays healthy and holds that velocity, Knack will likely be called upon for depth innings in the Majors this season.

Kyle Hurt is in Triple-A at the moment but should be expected back in the Majors sooner rather than later. He made the Opening Day roster for the Dodgers and is ready to be a full-time Major Leaguer. Hurt was sent down because the Dodgers needed a fresh arm early and he has option years remaining, but he should be back in Los Angeles before he has a chance to accumulate too many minor league innings.

Aside from the roster, if you’re curious about the name situation, OKC will play out this season as the Baseball Club before announcing a permanent name for 2025. They have a new main logo that has lost the Dodgers connection as they look to create something more connected to Oklahoma moving forward. Personally, I am all for originality when it comes to minor league clubs, and I still harbor some frustration that the incredible Albuquerque Isotopes are no longer affiliated with Los Angeles.


Double-A Tulsa Drillers

Dalton Rushing, the top prospect on the Dodgers Digest preseason prospects list, got a promotion to Double-A to begin the new season. He started at catcher on opening night over Cartaya despite being new to the level. Rushing went 1-for-4 at the plate with a walk and an RBI triple for his first hit with the Drillers.

Rushing is moving through the ranks of the system quickly, and deservedly so. He posted a 146 wRC+ in High-A last season despite working through a midseason concussion and batting just .228. He’s an on-base machine and could be primed for a big year in the hitter-friendly Texas League.

Yeiner Fernandez and Damon Keith each made their Double-A debuts as Tulsa’s three and four hitters respectively last night. Both coming off of nice performances in the Arizona Fall League, they are looking to translate their success into the regular season, and they each reached base twice on opening night.

Austin Gauthier, Jose Ramos and Brandon Lewis return to Tulsa’s lineup from last season. All three have the potential to be short stays before heading up to Triple-A depending on how they and the depth above them are performing.

Tulsa’s bullpen is a talented group that could make headlines this season. There is a plethora of high ceilings and potential breakout prospects that will be used in relief, which include Juan Morillo, Braydon Fisher, Sauryn Lao, Jack Dreyer, Ben Harris, Ryan Sublette and others.


High-A Great Lakes Loons

Jackson Ferris, the headline prospect the Dodgers got back in the Michael Busch/Yency Almonte deal this offseason, made his High-A debut as the Opening Day starter for Great Lakes. Despite working through a fairly high amount of traffic on the bases, Ferris made it through three innings with only one unearned run allowed and four strikeouts.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before with young Dodger arms, but: Find the zone consistently, let the stuff play, and Ferris could become one of the premier pitching prospects in all of baseball.

Another new face to the organization in Noah Miller was the opening night hero for the Loons. Miller, a glove-first shortstop who was acquired from Minnesota in the spring Manuel Margot swap, delivered a walk-off single in the 11th inning to start his Dodger career off on a high note.

Great Lakes has a talented pitching staff headlined by Ferris, Peter Heubeck, Jared Karros and Chris Campos. Offensively, they have powerful bats like Thayron Liranzo, Chris Newell and Kyle Nevin that will be interesting to watch. There are a few 2023 draftee hitters on the team as well, such as Dylan Campbell, Sam Mongelli and Jordan Thompson.


Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Now for what is likely going to be the most exciting offense in the system, at least to begin the year: The Quakes have one of the most stacked young lineups in the minor leagues. Teenagers Josue De Paula, Kendall George, Zyhir Hope, Jeral Perez and Oswaldo Osorio are will feature prominently in the lineup. Further, draftees from last year in Jake Gelof and Joe Vetrano will man the corner infield spots and mash.

Jesus Galiz returns to the Quakes as the opening night catcher to complete the battery with some exciting young arms as well. Patrick Copen started last night, and the Quakes roster also features Edgardo Henriquez and Carlos Duran making their returns from elbow surgery. Fireballers Reynaldo Yean and Eriq Swan will each look to establish themselves in full-season ball.

The Quakes dropped their first game of the year as they allowed 11 runs to Lake Elsinore, but there were some encouraging offensive performances. Hope homered in his first game as a Dodger, and De Paula and Gelof drove in two runs each. George reached base twice and tallied his first of many stolen bases to come this season.


Rookie Ball

A handful of top prospects remain in Arizona at extended spring training before they are either assigned to a full-season affiliate or remain for the Arizona Complex League season. As a reminder, the ACL schedule was moved up a month, so games will begin in May instead of June.

Top prospects who appear likely be there for the start of the ACL season include Joendry Vargas, Eduardo Quintero, Alexander Albertus, Hyun-Seok Jang and Jesus Tillero. Emil Morales headlines prospects who will be waiting for the Dominican Summer League season overseas.

Some pitching prospects like Payton Martin, Maddux Bruns and Ronan Kopp remain in Arizona at extended spring training for now before they will presumably be assigned to a full-season affiliate.


Minor league baseball is back!

About Bruce Kuntz

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I'm a Long Beach State journalism student and I've been writing about the Dodgers and their farm system since I was in high school.