03/05/12 9:00 PM ET
Ten prospects to know this season
Breaking down most likely candidates to debut in 2012
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
That said, the Minor League system is coming off a productive year. Javy Guerra took over the closer role and Nathan Eovaldi moved into the starting rotation. Dee Gordon was no secret a year ago, but who could have predicted he'd chase Rafael Furcal out of town and win a TOPPS All-Rookie Team nod? Josh Lindblom and Jerry Sands came on strong, too. And Rubby De La Rosa rocketed to Los Angeles, only to blow out his elbow.
All of them were signed and developed by the organization and made their Major League debuts last season.
The Dodgers' Minor League system might not have the answer for every hole, but it filled a few of them last season and here are the 10 youngsters in the system most likely to make their Major League debuts this year.
Start with the seven added to the roster over the winter -- Chris Withrow, Josh Wall, Michael Antonini, Stephen Fife, Alex Castellanos, Scott Van Slyke and Silverio.
Van Slyke, the son of former All-Star Andy Van Slyke, is a right-handed power-hitting outfielder who was the Minor League organization position player of the year. He homered in Monday's Cactus League opener, a 6-4 win over the White Sox.
The others are pitchers that need to step up to advance.
The right-handed Withrow is a former first-round pick who overcame the yips his first professional season and just might fulfill expectations as a starter. The right-handed Wall has finally found his place as a reliever. The left-handed Antonini, acquired from the Mets for Chin-lung Hu, is a starter who made a mechanical breakthrough this winter in Puerto Rico. The right-handed Fife, who believes he's conquered a mechanical flaw and regained his velocity, came to the Dodgers with catcher Tim Federowicz in the Trayvon Robinson trade.
Then there are two pitching prospects not yet on the 40-man Major League roster only because they haven't been around long enough to require such protection. But they might get to the Major Leagues in a hurry.
Allen Webster ranks high in this category. Despite being drafted in the 18th round and suffering a fade at the end of last year, he's considered by some scouts the starting prospect in the organization closest to advancing.
A reliever knocking on the door is Shawn Tolleson, considered to be a better Texas prep pitcher than Clayton Kershaw until needing Tommy John surgery. He's been putting up jaw-dropping numbers and Kershaw insists he'll be in the big leagues quickly. He was last year's organization Minor League pitcher of the year.
The Minor Leaguer most well known is starting pitcher Zach Lee, who traded in his helmet as an incoming LSU quarterback two years ago for a Dodgers franchise-record $5.25 million bonus. He's only 20, but the club had to believe he's a can't-miss to fork over that much.
Also eligible for the list are catchers Griff Erickson and Matt Wallach, who were invited to Major League camp, and journeymen Minor League pitchers Scott Rice and Will Savage, also in big league camp.
Federowicz gets an asterisk, because he made his Major League debut last year, brief as it was. Because he's more experienced, he's more likely to get a call up than Erickson or Wallach.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.