7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Seager remains on top in Dodgers' updated Top 20 list
Urias, Pederson also still among best prospects in Los Angeles' deep farm system
By Jim Callis / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Corey Seager, SS
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 17 (Preseason: 34)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 65
The Dodgers took Seager -- the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager -- with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, and they haven't shied away from challenging him in his young career. Corey reached Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga as a 19-year-old last August, and he finished the season in the Arizona Fall League, where he was the youngest player. While Corey's youth has shown at times, scouts believe he has the tools to be better than his older brother.
Seager has a smooth swing, and he consistently squares up balls, spraying line drives from gap to gap. He has already shown good power, and that is only expected to improve as he matures.
Seager is a shortstop for now, but he is already bigger than most Major League shortstops, and he's expected to eventually move to third base. Seager has good hands and a strong arm, and he should be an above-average defender.
2. Julio Urias, LHP
Preseason rank: 3
MLB Top 100 rank: 18 (Preseason: 64)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 65
The Dodgers signed Urias as a 16-year-old out of Mexico, where he was pitching for Mexico City in the Mexican League. Los Angeles immediately challenged him, and the club sent him to Class A Great Lakes in his first Minor League season. Despite being the youngest player in the Midwest League, Urias flourished.
Urias has added velocity since he signed, and he now throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s. Urias' curveball and changeup both show the promise of being above-average Major League offerings. He has a good feel for pitching and advanced pitchability for his age.
Urias is well beyond his years already, and he will pitch almost all of the 2014 season as a 17-year-old. Despite the challenging assignment in '13, the Dodgers were cautious with Urias' workload, and that will likely continue as he climbs the Minor League ladder.
3. Joc Pederson, OF
Preseason rank: 2
MLB Top 100 rank: 19 (Preseason: 36)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 60
While Pederson was overshadowed at the start of 2013 by Yasiel Puig, his teammate with Double-A Chattanooga, he built off his strong finish to the '12 season to make a name for himself last season. Pederson played in the 2013 All-Star Futures Game, and his .497 slugging percentage was the best in the Southern League.
While none of Pederson's tools truly stand out, he has the potential to be a five-tool player. Pederson has a patient approach at the plate and big raw power. He has proven to be vulnerable against left-handed pitching, and he will need to shore up that part of his game. Pederson is a solid runner, and he makes good use of his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield. Pederson has the range to play center field and an arm strong enough for right field, if necessary.
Pederson's father, Stu Pederson, got a cup of coffee with the Dodgers in 1985. Joc should soon surpass his father's career achievements.
4. Grant Holmes, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
Holmes has much more power in his arsenal than his older brother Colby Holmes, a right-hander in the Braves' system. Grant displayed it on a consistent basis as a high school senior, which is why the Dodgers drafted him 22nd overall in June and paid him a $2.5 million bonus.
Holmes opened the spring by hitting 100 mph during a preseason scrimmage, and he repeatedly ran his fastball up to 97 during games, while also displaying good life and command. Holmes' hard breaking ball has become more of a true curveball, and it was one of the best in the 2014 Draft class. Holmes shows some feel for a changeup that he'll need to employ more against more advanced hitters in pro ball.
Though Holmes doesn't have much projection left in his strong frame, that's not an issue, because he already has the makings of two well-above-average pitches. Scouts noted that Holmes did a nice job of improving his conditioning as a high school senior.
5. Chris Anderson, RHP
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Drafted in the 35th round out of a Minnesota high school by the Cubs in 2010, Anderson headed south for college, and he became the first first-round pick in Jacksonville history. The 18th overall pick in '13, Anderson signed for $2,109,900, and he had no problem handling an assignment to low Class A in his pro debut.
Anderson has a quality fastball that usually sits in the low 90s, and it has been clocked as high as 98 mph in shorter stints. His heater is difficult for batters to lift, because it features heavy life, and Anderson uses his large strong frame to pitch on a steep downhill plane.
Anderson has two different power breaking balls, with his slider, which reaches the mid 80s, grading better than his upper-70s curveball. Anderson throws a changeup with deceptive arm speed and some fade, and if he refines his control, he has what it takes to be a front-line starter.
6. Zach Lee, RHP
Preseason rank: 4
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 40 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
Lee was a big-time football recruit in high school, and he appeared intent on heading to LSU to play quarterback and pitch. In a stunning move, Los Angeles was able to sign him away from Baton Rouge, with a franchise-record bonus at the Draft signing deadline in 2010.
Lee has moved through the Minor Leagues quickly, first reaching Double-A Chattanooga as a 20-year-old. He has four pitches that project as Major League-average or better offerings. Lee's fastball sits in the low 90s, with good sink. He throws two breaking balls, and he has a good feel for his changeup.
Lee's loose easy delivery allows him to command all of his pitches well. That command and his advanced pitchability help him miss bats, despite not having a dominant offspeed offering. Lee projects as solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, and he could get a chance soon in Los Angeles.
7. Tom Windle, LHP
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Windle could be the next University of Minnesota left-hander to become an All-Star, following in the footsteps of Denny Neagle and Glen Perkins. Windle has a ceiling as a No. 2 or 3 starter, if he can improve his changeup and command, and if not, he has enough pure stuff to be a closer.
Windle's best pitch is his nasty slider, which reaches the mid 80s. He can drop it in on the hands of left-handers or on the back foot of right-handers. After working at 90 mph to 94 mph with his fastball during his junior season with the Gophers, Windle pitched more at 88 mph to 92 mph in his pro debut. Lengthening his stride during instructional league helped him reclaim that lost velocity.
Windle's delivery looks a little stiff, and it features some recoil, leading some scouts to question whether he can develop the third pitch and control to remain in the rotation. Windle is starting to throw his changeup more often, and it has made some progress.
8. Chris Reed, LHP
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Primarily a reliever at Stanford, Reed has pitched almost exclusively as a starter since signing for $1,589,000 as the 16th overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Born in London, he has represented Great Britain in the Futures Game and the World Baseball Classic, showcasing the upside of a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Though Reed hit 96 mph as a college reliever, he has worked mostly in the 88-to-92-mph range as a pro starter. That's still more than enough velocity to succeed, because his two-seam fastball sinks so much and induces plenty of groundouts. Reed's spike slider gives him a second plus pitch at times, breaking sharply and arriving in the low 80s.
Reed's slider regressed in 2013, and at times, his sinking changeup was more effective. Reed's biggest need is to improve his control and command, and he has the athleticism needed to repeat his delivery and locate his pitches better.
9. Scott Schebler, OF
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 35 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
The Dodgers spent liberally on the day of the 2010 Draft signing deadline. They gave $5.25 million to first-rounder Lee and $600,000 to 11th-rounder Pederson, who have become two of their best prospects. They also paid $300,000 in the 26th round to Schebler, who they named their Minor League Player of the Year in '13.
Schebler led the high Class A California League with 69 extra-base hits and 227 total bases last season, tapping into his raw power by becoming more aggressive at the plate. Though his strikeout rate increased, as well, Schebler makes enough hard contact that he should be able to hit for a decent average.
A solid runner, Schebler could do a better job of maximizing his speed on the bases and in the outfield. He fits better on a corner than in center, and his arm likely will relegate him to left field.
10. Alex Verdugo, OF
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
Verdugo was one of the top two-way players available in the 2014 Draft, with the majority of teams believing he had a higher upside on the mound. Los Angeles bucked that consensus, however, by taking him as an outfielder and paying him $914,600 as a second-round pick.
The MVP Award winner at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field last August, Verdugo combines bat speed, strength and feel for hitting, making it possible that he could develop into a .285 hitter with 20 homers per season. He broke into pro ball as a center fielder, but he eventually should move to right, where his plus arm will fit well. Verdugo is an average runner.
On the mound, Verdugo's three-quarters delivery gives him good angle and movement on his fastball, which averages 89-91 mph and peaks at 94. He also features a promising curveball and a changeup with some life.
11. Pedro Baez, RHP
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Baez played in two Futures Games as a third baseman, standing out with his power potential and defensive ability. But he couldn't hit consistently enough, and when he stalled in Double-A, Los Angeles decided to make him a full-time pitcher in 2013.
The Dodgers clocked Baez at 94 mph throwing across the diamond when they signed him in 2007, and his arm strength translated into 91-to-95-mph fastballs early last season. Baez added velocity as he gained more experience, touching 99 mph by the end of '13 and showing some sink on his heater, as well.
Baez also has a lot of power to his slider, which resembles a cutter and reaches the mid 80s, and he even shows flashes of a solid changeup. Baez is still figuring out control and command, and if he does, Los Angeles could have another conversion success story, a la Kenley Jansen, on its hands.
12. Jose Dominguez, RHP
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Dominguez spent the first four years of his pro career in Rookie ball, and the Dodgers didn't bother to protect him on their 40-man roster after the 2012 season. He had a truncated '13, missing the first month due to a 25-game suspension for an unspecified violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the last two with a strained quad. But in between, Dominguez made his big league debut, and he unveiled one of the hardest fastballs at that level.
Dominguez averaged 98.5 mph with his heater during his nine appearances with Los Angeles, and he hit 102 mph while in the Minors. His four-seamer also has some riding life, and it seems to jump on hitters at the plate.
Dominguez is still making the transition from thrower to pitcher, and his success at doing so ultimately will determine his role in the Dodgers' bullpen. His slider is more notable for its mid-80s velocity than its bite, and he has difficulty throwing strikes at times.
13. Jesmuel Valentin, 2B
Preseason rank: None
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
A teammate of Carlos Correa at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Valentin signed for $984,700 as a supplemental first-round pick in 2012, the same year that the Astros made Correa the No. 1 overall choice. Valentin hasn't progressed as rapidly as Correa, and he struggled in his first shot at low Class A in '13. But the game seems to have slowed down for Valentin, and he fared well in a return to that level after moving to second base.
The son of 16-year big league shortstop Jose Valentin, Jesmuel developed tremendous instincts while growing up around the game. A natural right-handed hitter, he began switch-hitting late in his high school career. Valentin won't be much of a power threat, but he controls the strike zone well, and he could develop into a No. 2 hitter.
Valentin has solid arm strength, but his fringy speed and quickness make him a better fit at second base than as a shortstop. If he doesn't hit enough to become a regular, he's capable of playing on the left side of the infield and serving as a utilityman.
14. Darnell Sweeney, 2B/SS
Preseason rank: 19
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
When Sweeney headed into his junior season at Central Florida, scouts viewed him as one of the most athletic college infielders and a potential early-round pick in the 2012 Draft. Then he hit .261, dropping him to the Dodgers in the 13th round.
Sweeney has stung the ball since turning pro. He led the high Class A California League with 16 triples, and he ranked fourth with 61 extra-base hits in his first full pro season, showing better pop than most middle infielders. Sweeney's plus speed should help him hit for average, though he'll need to tone down his aggressive approach to do so.
Sweeney has the quickness to steal bases, but he must improve his technique after getting caught a Cal League-high 20 times in 68 attempts last year. Sweeney has the range and arm strength to get the job done at shortstop, and he also has seen time at second base.
15. Victor Arano, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Los Angeles has done a nice job of mining Mexico for pitchers in recent years. The club landed Urias, baseball's best left-handed pitching prospect, and fellow southpaw Victor Gonzalez in the same deal with the Mexico City Red Devils in August 2012. Another former Red Devil, Arano joined the organization the following April, and he has wowed club officials with his advanced feel for pitching.
Arano has a pair of solid pitches in his fastball and slider. He usually throws his heater at 90-91 mph and tops out at 94. He has tightened his breaking ball, and he added some velocity to it in 2014 after it resembled more of a curveball in the past.
Arano's changeup isn't as effective, though he does show a willingness to throw it. He's physically mature for a teenager, so he may not add much more velocity. Though Arano has been much more effective out of the bullpen than in the rotation in low Class A, he still projects as a future starter.
16. Zachary Bird, RHP
Preseason rank: 13
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Extremely projectable and athletic, Bird could prove to be a steal as a ninth-rounder from the 2012 Draft. The Dodgers thought enough of him to send him to low Class A as an 18-year-old to open '13, and while he struggled at first, he fared better once he returned there in mid-August after a demotion.
Bird generates easy velocity on his fastball, working from 90 to 95 mph and showing the ability to cut and sink the pitch. All three of his secondary pitches have the potential to become average or better down the road, with his curveball currently rating ahead of his slider and changeup.
Bird will need to do a better job of trusting his stuff as he advances. He's also working on smoothing out his delivery so he can throw more strikes. Bird is still just 19, so he has plenty of time.
17. Yimi Garcia, RHP
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Splitter: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Relatively unheralded entering the 2013 season, Garcia changed that with strong performances in Double-A and in the Arizona Fall League. He led all Southern League relievers in most strikeouts (12.7) and fewest walks (1.9) per nine innings, and he earned a spot on the Dodgers' 40-man roster.
Garcia's fastball ranges from 91 to 95 mph, and it is tough on hitters because it features ample boring and sinking action. He doesn't have a standout secondary pitch, though both his slider and splitter can be effective. Garcia's slider has more sweep than bite, and he uses his splitter as a change of pace to combat left-handers.
Fearless on the mound, Garcia goes after hitters, and he rarely gets himself into trouble with walks. After his breakout year, Garcia could contribute in Los Angeles' bullpen this season and become a setup man down the road.
18. Carlos Frias, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 50 | Curveball: 40 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, Frias spent his first five pro seasons and part of a sixth in Rookie ball. He has yet to crack the Dodgers' 40-man roster, though he did finally reach Triple-A in late April, and he could help the big league club in the near future.
Though Frias has spent much of his Minor League career as a starter, he has a brighter future as a reliever. He usually works at 92-95 mph as part of a rotation, and he's reached 99 coming out of the bullpen. Frias' No. 2 pitch is a hard cutter/slider that pushes the upper 80s.
Frias has funky mechanics that often hamper his control and command. He shows some aptitude for a changeup and often throws it too hard, and he tips off his curveball by slowing down his delivery. Frias might be better off by shifting to relief and focusing on his two best pitches.
19. Onelki Garcia, LHP
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
A Cuban defector, Garcia created a stir before the 2011 Draft when the Majors briefly made him eligible, and the Dodgers considered taking him with their first-round pick. MLB pulled him out of that Draft but put him back in '12, when Los Angeles made him a third-rounder.
Used mostly as a reliever in pro ball, Garcia made his big league debut in that role last September. He relies mostly on two pitches: a fastball, which usually arrives at 92-95 mph and seems quicker because he employs a deliberate delivery, and a curveball. Garcia has a hard curve that gets up to 82 mph and elicits swings and misses, and he has a slower mid-70s version that he can get over the plate for strikes.
Garcia also has a raw changeup, but the lack of an effective third offering and spotty control make him a better option in the bullpen rather than the rotation. Garcia had bone chips removed from his elbow in November and he was slower to return then expected.
20. Kyle Farmer, C
Preseason rank: 20
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Farmer had a cameo in the movie "The Blind Side" as a high school quarterback, and a position change could have him destined for the bright lights of the big leagues one day. A four-year starter at shortstop for Georgia, he lacked the quickness to play there as a pro. The Dodgers drafted him in the eighth round in June 2013, and they immediately moved him to catcher after signing him for $40,000.
Club officials say Farmer is taking to the conversion even quicker than Russell Martin, who was a third baseman before Los Angeles drafted him out of junior college. Farmer's soft hands, strong arm and leadership fit well behind the plate. He threw out 39 percent of basestealers in his pro debut.
Though Farmer also posted a gaudy .919 OPS in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League, his offensive projection is more modest. Farmer uses a gap-to-gap approach, and he is more likely to hit double-digit home runs than produce a high batting average.