02/10/12 11:00 AM EST
LA organization preview, Top 20 Prospects
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
You'll have to forgive the Dodgers if they view their farm system a little bit differently than their peers and competitors. Los Angeles has traditionally been one of the most productive organizations in baseball at producing homegrown players, a custom it hopes to continue this season.
The Dodgers already have Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw in their rotation, but they could add Nathan Eovaldi this year and Zach Lee at some point in the near future. Beyond that pair, Los Angeles has a whole host of arms in the system that may one day yield big league dividends.
De Jon Watson, the Dodgers' assistant general manager in charge of player development, said that Los Angeles is thrilled with its stockpile of arms and optimistic about the future.
"We do have some good pitchers. But more importantly, we have depth and volume," Watson said. "We have guys that have touched the big leagues and guys sprinkled through the system."
Eovaldi thrived at Double-A and held his own in a brief big league audition last year, and Lee, a first-round pick in 2010, starred in the Class A Midwest League in his first professional season. Now, the plan is to let Lee's talent dictate how quickly he'll be pushed through the system.
"The goal is to get him to Double-A at some point in the season," Watson said. "Does he break camp there? There's a possibility. But this guy's a leader. He can lead a staff at some point in the future, and we want to make sure that we continue to challenge him."
The Dodgers also have promising potential starters in Allen Webster and Chris Withrow, and ex-Stanford closer Chris Reed will try his hand at pitching out of the rotation this year.
Top 20 Prospects
The Dodgers may be heavily tilted in favor of arms, but that doesn't mean they don't have any interesting hitters in their farm system. Dee Gordon made the leap to the Major Leagues last season, but the next-best hitting prospects are still considered a few years away.
Joc Pederson, an 11th-round draftee in 2010, broke out with a .353 batting average at Ogden in the rookie-level Pioneer League last year. And James Baldwin, a fourth-rounder in 2010, slugged .480 at Ogden last year, giving the Dodgers a pair of outfield prospects on which to dream.
"With Pederson and Baldwin, if they stay healthy and continue to progress, they have a chance to be everyday big leaguers," said Watson.
Angel Sanchez is another starter with potentially plus stuff, and the Dodgers also have high hopes for right-handers Ethan Martin and Garrett Gould. Watson is especially excited about impact reliever Juan Rodriguez, who joined the Dodgers in a three-way trade last summer.
"He's got sleeper written all over him," he said. "We tightened up his delivery and he's throwing 100 mph, and it's swing-and-miss 100. It's not put-it-in-play 100. He's not as tall as Kenley Jansen, but he's a big body guy. Kenley has pure arm swing; this guy is just really loose."
dodgers' top prospects
Under the radar
Jonathan Garcia has shown that he can hit for average, but he hasn't been able to control the strike zone thus far in his brief career. The 20-year-old hit .305 at Ogden in 2010, and he came back to hit 19 home runs in the Class A Midwest League. Now, he needs to show consistency.
The Dodgers also have a potential breakout reliever in Yimi Garcia, who has struck out more batters (144) than he's allowed hits (130) in his first three professional seasons. Garcia, 21, works between 90-95 mph with heavy sink and has allowed just five homers in 137 innings.
Hitter of the Year
Pederson showed that he's still scratching the surface of his game last year, when he logged a .429 on-base percentage and a .568 slugging mark at Ogden. Pederson hit 11 home runs and drilled 20 doubles in the Pioneer League, and he walked 36 times in just 68 games.
The youngster slowed down in a handful of games at the Class A Midwest League, and he'll get a chance to prove that he can handle the level in 2012. Pederson was caught stealing just five times at Ogden last year, and his speed will always be a dynamic part of his game.
Pitcher of the Year
Lee, the 28th overall selection in 2010, looked strong in his first pro debut, allowing just nine home runs and striking out nearly three times as many batters (91) as he walked (32). And he did that as a 19-year-old, giving the Dodgers plenty to dream on as he progresses through the system.
"He showed us a lot with his mental makeup and the way he carried himself," Watson said of Lee's first professional season. "We know he's going to give us everything he has."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.