Over the years, the Dodgers have had a reputation of signing and developing young, high-upside arms. Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation, Kenly Jansen, Scott Elbert and Josh Lindblom in the bullpen all are homegrown products.
There are more on the way. A scout who has seen much of the Dodgers' system this year had this to say about three of the pitchers currently in the Dodgers' Top 10.
Zack Lee (No. 36 overall; No. 1 Dodgers prospect): "He's really athletic with a good delivery. He really commands the fastball with an advanced feel for the strike zone. He can make his fastball cut and sink. He has a Zack Greinke-like feel for the zone. The rest of his stuff is a projection. His curve, slider and changeup are all presently below-average. They will be average across the board with plus command. I was expecting power stuff and that he'll have to learn how to pitch. But his advanced feel for pitching is his strength. He's not a top-of-the-rotation guy for me, but more like an innings eater. He'll be able to pitch with his stuff, but not dominate with it."
Angel Sanchez (No. 6 Dodgers prospect): "He has a plus fastball, up to 95 mph, and a plus changeup. His breaking ball has flashes, but it has a ways to go. He's probably a bullpen guy for me, a solid seventh-inning guy because of the lack of the breaking ball. He doesn't pitch at 95 mph, he pitches more with an average fastball. But out of the 'pen, maybe the fastball plays up."
Shawn Tolleson (No. 9 Dodgers prospect): Tolleson gwas called up on June 4 and the scout saw him while he was still in Triple-A. "He was really good. A late Draft pick, Tommy John surgery out of high school, arm issues at Baylor. So he hasn't been pitching long. But he has two plus-plus pitches with his fastball and slider. He has a funky delivery; it's not the best arm action, but he's lights out with surprising good command."
Bauer managing things his way
The D-backs have expressed their desire for top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer to improve on his game management.
The analytical Bauer, a mechanical engineering and mathematics major while at UCLA, prefers a different, more specific expression.
"Game management is a term that everyone throws out there that is completely meaningless and it is just words that people put together like, 'Oh, he got hit today. Well, the ball was up.' It's catch-phrases and catch-all that means that, 'This is what he has to work on,' or whatever," Bauer said. "Yeah, I need to manage a game better but what is game management? Is it you get a guy 0-2 and instead of trying to throw a couple of breaking balls and try to punch him out, you throw him a fastball and let him get a hit? Is that better game management? 'Yeah, he didn't walk as many people but he gave up another hit.'"
One message is clear: The statistics say Bauer, No. 6 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list has been dominant.
The D-backs pitching prospect is 11-1 with a 2.11 ERA, including a 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA in eight starts for Double-A Mobile before his promotion to Reno. He is 4-0 with a 2.68 ERA in Triple-A.
The D-backs want Bauer to keep his velocity up over a long Major League career and are not excited about the prospect of their young starter throwing 130 pitches per outing. That said, D-backs farm director Mike Bell said that he has not completely ruled out the possibility of high pitch counts for Bauer when gets promoted to the big leagues one day. Bell also acknowledged the decision ultimately rests with general manager Kevin Towers along with manager Kirk Gibson and staff.
"It's different to some degree and maybe a little old-school but guys in previous years used to throw a lot," Bell said. "Their main concern was getting outs and that's where Trevor is at. I'm not telling him he can't do anything. I think he's that special. Right now, we are focused on his development."
Bauer has thrown an estimated 90-100 pitches per outing in the Minors. He threw 113 pitches against Oklahoma City in his first Triple-A start. He is not on a pitch count.
The young right-hander has also dealt with nagging groin soreness but it has not affected his performances.
"I'm 21 years old, I'm still working on stuff and, yeah, that's part of my development, being able to execute my pitches better, have better command of my pitches. If I execute my pitches better, I have better game management," Bauer said. "The next time I won't be able to execute my pitches and it will be, 'He needs to work on game management.'
"So, it's all execution. My plan is solid. I have a really good plan," he continued. "I'm prepared when I go out there and I try to execute. Some nights I can and some nights I can't. It's not like I don't know how to manage a game. I think I manage games pretty darn well. I don't give up a lot of runs. I don't give up a lot of hits. I get a lot of wins for the team."
Extended look at the White Sox system
The White Sox decided on a conservative approach with right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson by keeping him in extended spring training and are hoping the strategy pays off.
Johnson, ranked No. 4 in the club's Minor League system, was slowed by mild shoulder tendinitis but pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings for Class A Kannapolis in his first start of the season. He gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings against Hagerstown in his second start last week.
"Hopefully, we'll see what he did last year," White Sox director of player development Nick Capra said. "He's a big kid with a power arm. He has different breaking balls and changeups. We're excited to get him on mound against competition other than just extended [spring training] hitters."
Capra also has high hopes for the other top prospects in the organization.
Right-handed pitcher Nestor Molina, the No. 1 prospect in the organization, is 4-6 with a 5.11 ERA in his first 13 outings, which includes a 4-5 record and 4.66 ERA at Double-A Birmingham. Converted to a pitcher in 2008, Molina is in his second full season as a starter.
"Nestor has been hot and cold. He has not been bad or good," Capra said. "He's going through the normal mechanical issues but he has dynamic and electric stuff. He's a young kid that's still learning how to pitch. We're real excited about his young arm."
Capra added that outfielder Trayce Thompson, ranked No. 2, is "handling his own but he's not where we want him to be." Thompson is hitting .225 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in his first 63 games for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.
"He's playing exceptional defense," Capra said. "He's still young and has lot of growing to do but he has a chance to be a good player."
Outfielder Jared Mitchell, ranked No. 18, missed the entire 2010 season because of an ankle injury but continues to make progress at Double-A, Capra said. He hit .282 with four home runs and 37 RBIs in his first 63 games with the Barons.
"He does not have a lot of games under his belt because of the injury but he's done a real nice job in Birmingham," Capra said. "He's made some adjustments to his swing and is getting better and better every day."
The White Sox are also getting an idea of what Tyler Saladino, ranked No. 7, can do at Double-A. He was also described as "hot and cold" at the plate but has been impressive on defense. Saladino hit .236 with one two home run and 23 RBIs with 23 stolen bases in his first 61 games for Birmingham.
Indians shortstop prospect Lindor impresses
Teenage shortstop Carlos Correa, selected first overall by the Astros in this year's First-Year Player Draft, would do well to perform similarly to Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor during his first full professional season.
Lindor, 18, who is also a shortstop and from Puerto Rico, was Cleveland's first-round pick (No. 8 overall) in last year's Draft. He only played a few New York-Penn League games after he signed last year out of high school but is making his presence felt this season at Class A Lake County.
"He's been great and extremely consistent," said Ross Atkins, the Indians' vice president of player development. "He's been aggressive on the basepaths and has been one of the better offense players on the team and in the league. For being one of youngest in league, we are extremely excited about his start."
Lindor, No. 26 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list is hitting .278 with 10 doubles, three triples and four home runs with 22 RBIs in his first 56 games for the Captains.
Lindor is far from a finished product. The Indians are trying to refine his approach at the plate without taking away his aggressiveness. They are also working on the shortstop's "game clock."
"He's discovering the pace and speed of the game and learning how to maximize his rhythm and timing," Atkins said. "He's a beast as a defender and an offensive player. We want to make sure he is as consistent as can be."
Crick is Prospect Watch Pitcher of the Week
It's been a bit of an up-and-down season for Giants pitching prospect Kyle Crick.
The organization's supplemental first-round pick in 2011, and its No. 15 prospect, began his first full season by posting a 2.30 ERA and .173 batting average against in April. Then he had a 5.18 ERA and .264 BAA in May.
His first two starts in June, though, are the reason he's the Prospect Watch Pitcher of the Week. The big right-hander made two starts and didn't allow an earned run, yielding just one unearned run on three hits (.079 BAA) over 12 innings. He walked four -- control has been an issue for him -- and struck out 14.
Overall, Crick's 3.12 ERA is ninth in the South Atlantic League and he's tied for 10th with 65 strikeouts (he has an 11.2 K/9 ratio.). His .199 BAA is second-best in the circuit.
Ozuna earns Prospect Watch Hitter of the Week
Marcell Ozuna is making a habit of starting slowly, then coming on.
In 2011, he hit .218/.285/.370 in the first half of the season, then turned it on to the tune of .310/.371/.585 in the second half. He started doing the same thing in 2012 as he moved up to the Florida State League, but the good news is it's taken him less time to turn it around.
Ozuna, ranked No. 5 on the Marlins' Top 10 Prospects list, is this week's pick for Prospect Watch Hitter of the Week after going 7-for-20 in six games for Class A Jupiter. Five of those seven hits were home runs, tying him for the Minor League lead for the week. His 14 RBIs also tied for tops in all of the Minors and he stood alone atop the leaderboard in slugging percentage (he finished fifth in OPS).
Ozuna started the year slowly again, hitting .233/.290/.360 with three homers in April. But he hit .280 with six homers in May and already has six homers this month. His 15 homers lead the Florida State League and he's second in RBIs. His home park in Jupiter is not hitter-friendly, so 11 of his 15 bombs have come on the road.
Jonathan Mayo and Jesse Sanchez are reporters for MLB.com. Mayo writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 and @JesseSanchezMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.