At the top of the NL West, the Dodgers are one of the league’s most surprising teams this season. Even though Matt Kemp has missed nearly the entire season, they’ve stayed at the top of the standings thanks to one of the league’s best pitching staffs. Clayton Kershaw leads a rotation that goes six deep, and Kenley Jansen has been one of the league’s best relievers this season.
The biggest story out of LA this year is off the field though, and that’s obviously the new ownership. A group of investors with Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten acting as the public faces paid over $2 billion for the team, and their rhetoric and actions have been as bold as the price they paid. It started with their big extension for Andre Ethier, and then they shocked the industry by signing Cuban defector Yasiel Puig for $42 million. This is more than both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler got despite not being nearly as talented as those two.
With the money they have to throw around, the aggressiveness is expected to continue. Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen. They’re widely speculated as a free agent destination for Cole Hamels, and they could get a head start on trying to re-sign him by trading for him in the next two weeks. Their offense really needs an upgrade though, and if the Phillies could move Hunter Pence, they would surely be on the phone. Perhaps Placido Polanco could interest them to shore up defense at the hot corner.
PBP Vin Scully, 85: He wouldn’t improve the on-field product at all, but Scully would be a huge addition to the organization.
Very Good Tier
RHP Zach Lee, 21: There is a wide range of opinions on Lee, going from potential ace to a pitcher that won’t top out as anything more than a #4. For Lee to lead a package for a pitcher like Hamels, the Phillies would really have to believe in him, and there is a lot to like. At just 20 years old, he’s reached AA for the Dodgers. He has the projectable 6’4, 190 pound frame that evaluators love, so there’s hope that he could add to his above average fastball. His slider has above average potential, but where he really stands out is his poise on the mound and control. Those qualities mean he has a pretty high floor and is a good bet to at least contribute in the majors.
2B/RF Alex Castellanos, 26: He’s not the most well-known Castellanos in the minors, but he still has a chance to be a solid contributor in the majors almost immediately. Since his breakout 2011 season, he’s been a great pure hitter in the minors with the potential for average power. He has a little speed, and his arm is good enough for right field if a team decides they don’t want him at second base anymore. He could be a quality starter if a team is satisfied with average defense at second.
RHP Garrett Gould, 21: He’s having a rough season in the lion’s den known as the Cal League, but at 20 years old, it’s certainly too early to throw in the towel on Gould. Command issues have plagued him in 2012, and pitchers that can’t throw quality strikes in the Cal League get burned. He’s still striking out nearly a batter an inning with two potential plus pitches, so the Dodgers hope he’ll be better after taking his lumps this year. He has the ceiling of a #3 starter that fills the zone with a lot of strikes.
OF Joc Pederson, 21: Pederson jumped straight from a rookie league to high-A this year, and he’s holding his own. His energy and instincts stand out more than his tools, but he could still be a solid major leaguer. He’ll hit for a high average by putting the ball in play frequently, and his power is improving despite not really having a classic power hitter’s frame. He’s a smart baserunner and decent fielder, and he’ll probably end up in left field.
LHP Chris Reed, 23: Even though he was a closer at Stanford, Reed has the potential to start, and the Dodgers are taking their time with his development. His Futures Game performance was underwhelming, but it wasn’t indicative of his talent. His low to mid 90’s fastball and slider are potential plus pitches, and his changeup shows promise for someone who probably didn’t need it much in college. He holds his velocity well and hasn’t displayed significant mechanical difficulties in his transition, so he should be able to stick as a potential mid-rotation starter.
Lottery Ticket Tier
OF James Baldwin, 21: Baldwin has some of the best tools in baseball, but his performance this year is probably one of the worst. He won’t turn 21 until after the season, so it won’t be a disaster if he has to repeat low-A. He’s a great athlete who could develop solid power and decent average if he ever improves his plate approach.
LHP Ethan Martin, 24: Clearly older than the usual lottery ticket, Martin has been one of the minors’ worst pitchers the last two years, but in 2012 he’s found the strike zone a bit more often than usual. He pitches in the mid 90’s even as a starter, and his curveball is another potential plus pitch. It still seems likely that he won’t amount to much, but he’s showing signs of life for the first time in years.
3B Alex Santana, 19: Santana has an athletic, projectable 6’4 and 200 pound frame, and scouts expect him to develop the above average power necessary for third base to go along with his great bat speed. He has the tools to be a good defender at the hot corner, but his plate approach needs to improve like a lot of young hitters.
C Tim Federowicz, 25: He’ll probably never be a starter, but Federowicz’s defense and leadership would make him a quality backup. He’ll hit enough doubles to stick in the majors, but aside from a low-A stint early in his career, he’s only hit well in Albuquerque’s great hitting environment in his career.
RHP Shawn Tolleson, 25: Tolleson’s numbers in the minors have been absolutely ridiculous with 13.4 K/9 and a WHIP below 1.00 in over 100 career innings. He’s a potential set-up man in the majors with a mid 90’s fastball, slider and cutter.
RHP Allen Webster, 23: Webster’s stuff is perhaps better than Lee’s, but his 30+ starts in AA have been troubling so far. He needs to improve his command, but he would be a great fit for Citizen’s Bank Park with his quality sinker.
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