Los Angeles Dodgers 2019 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Jeter Downs, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes - Photo credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick on Twitter

Fair warning to everyone: We are in a bit of transitioning period between writers, so I am going to keep my list somewhat similar to Jonathan Tripp’s preseason list. That said, you’ll find all of the latest international free agents (J2 signings) and amateur draft picks, as well as a few of my own takes (either prospects noticeably lower or higher than Tripp).

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster



Tier 1
1. Gavin Lux, SS  (Preseason #4)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A

Lux is an offensive-minded middle infielder who has made strides this year at Double-A and Triple-A, and is currently shooting up midseason prospect ranking lists. And many sites are calling him the (only) untouchable prospect in the Dodger system.

2. Keibert Ruiz, C  (Preseason #3)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A

I’ll let you in on a secret: I am a sucker for a hitter with great K:BB ratios. Tell me the player is a 21-year old in AA–and handling himself well at the plate in a small sample size of 40 plate appearances in AAA–and I am going to buy. Mix in the fact that Ruiz has great defensive skills at the catcher position, and you have the makings of a great prospect to target in dynasty leagues. The only thing holding Ruiz back in 2020 may be Will Smith.

3. Dustin May, RHP (Preseason #2)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Even with the promotion of Alex Verdugo, I am still slotting Dustin May (aka Gingergaard) one spot lower than his preseason rank. This is no reflection on his 2019 performance, but more a nod to the two guys above him. Only 21 years old, May has not shown any signs that MLB is too big for him in a small 19 innings sample size. May looks more than capable of holding down a mid-rotation spot in the majors.

4. Will Smith, C  (Preseason #3)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Smith is the middle of (or perhaps already has) displacing all other Dodger backstop options at the MLB level. At his current pace, he should exceed at-bat limits before the end of the 2019 season, but for now, I am going to let him enjoy sitting in the top 5 of this list.

As noted by placement, I am higher on Ruiz but Smith is currently performing well in the majors. So, for that, he gets the Tier 1 listing. His strikeout rate in 110 plate appearances is high, but it’ll play if he can keep the power going and maintain the walk rate. He’ll obviously regress (hopefully not this year for you Dodger fans!), but for now he is one of the better, if not best, offensive catchers in the bigs.


Tier 2

5. Tony Gonsolin, RHP (Preseason #11)
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Gonsolin has continued the breakout from his 2018 season. He reached the majors earlier in the year, and has handled himself well so far in a short 23 inning stint.

6. Jeter Downs, SS (Preseason #11)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA

Photo credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick

Downs is giving Josiah Gray a run for his “best prospect acquired from the Reds” money. He offers a nice power/speed combination, as well as nice plate discipline. He has spent most of the year playing SS, but he most likely projects at the keystone when he inevitably hits the majors.

7. Josiah Gray, RHP (Preseason #13)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA

It’s only fitting I slot Gray just below Downs, but he is worthy (insert Thor meme) of the spot. Gray continues to dominate with a two-pitch combination, but will need at least one more (the changeup is currently a work in progress) to be an effective starter. However, it would not be surprising to see him as a dominate late-inning guy. Or, his strike-throwing approach could work as a back-end starter, even if the changeup remains sub-par; and watch out if it becomes more than that.

8. Omar Estevez, 2B/SS (Preseason #33)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA

So, this is me taking a stance compared to our preseason list. Estevez has looked good at the plate while in Double-A this season. He has a short swing, which will serve him well throughout his career. He has been splitting time at 2B and SS at Double-A, and handles both fine. Obviously shortstop would increase his prospect status, but even at second he has potential to play.


Tier 3

9. DJ Peters, OF (Preseason #9)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AAA

This may be high on Peters, but there is a lot to like in him: raw power, good outfield defense, and good walk rate. The downside, of course, is his swing-and-miss game. I am going to defer to Eric and Kiley at Fangraphs on this: “high-variance profile with a shot to make some All-Star teams while other years will be lean, and closer to replacement level”.

10. Kody Hoese, 3B (Preseason N/A)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A

The Dodgers selected Hoese in the first round of the amateur draft from Tulane University. The former American Athletic Conference player of the year seems poised to stay at third base as he progresses. And he has the potential to progress quickly.

And there is the fact he inspires videos like this:

11. Diego Cartaya, C (Preseason #19)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)
I assure you that I am not just obsessed with catchers. The Venezuelan teenager looks the part: good mobility to go along with a strong build. He still needs to improve his receiving, but at 17, he still has plenty of time to refine that part of his game.

12. Mitchell White, RHP (Preseason #6)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA

White continues to be intriguing due to his quality stuff, but it’s hard to trust a guy with such an injury history and inconsistent velocity (though, perhaps attributed to the injuries). He’s Rule 5 eligible this winter, so we should most likely get a look at him in the majors next year.

13. Michael Busch, 2B(Preseason N/A)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A

Another college bat, Busch was selected by the Dodgers at pick 31, which they secured when they failed to sign JT Ginn last year. Busch may end up playing 2B (his college position), but more than one outlet has referenced Max Muncy as a comparable player, both for his multi-position capability and his bat.

Check out this play from when Busch was still at UNC Chapel Hill:

14. Luis Rodriguez, OF (Preseason N/A)
Age: 16
2019 Highest Level: N/A

The Venezuelan outfielder was the 4th best international prospect from this year’s J2 class. This may be a bit too aggressive, but Rodriguez is someone you worth keeping your eyes and ears open for. Tough to say much at this point, but scouts love his hit tool but many express concerns about his long-term outlook at CF. Of course, remember he is only 16, so he’s about as high variance right now as one can expect.

15. Jeren Kendall, OF (Preseason #10)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+

Photo credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick

As Jonathan Tripp said in the preseason list, Kendall has tools. He is better (higher walk rate, better defensive skills) than Courtney Hawkins, but after having personally been burned by Hawkins in a dynasty league, I am a bit wary of Kendall’s strikeout rate. That said, it feels as though he is one adjustment away from putting it together. And if he does, Kendall immediately becomes a top Dodger prospect.

16. Connor Wong, C (Preseason #14)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AA

Photo credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick

It’s a bit amazing to list 4 catchers in the top 16 of a team’s system, but Wong is still showing enough skills to warrant a relatively high placement on this list. Wong reached AA this year, but still shows a need for improvement at the plate. Not from the power perspective, but improvement in walk rate or contact would help his cause. Eric and Kiley at Fangraphs slapped a Barnes comparison on him, and that seems appropriate at this point.

17. Dennis Santana, RHP (Preseason #12)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Santana spent the early part of this season building arm strength after a rotator cuff injury in 2018. Even though his brief MLB stint this year did not go as planned, it was exciting to see Santana make it back after a brief debut in 2018. Santana continues to be an intriguing arm, but he needs to regain the command he had found in 2018. It’s possible the Dodgers move him to the bullpen where his stuff can play up and the negative effects of an increased walk rate can be minimized relative to a starting role.

18. Michael Grove, RHP (Preseason #22)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+

Taken in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, Grove finally has some professional innings under his belt after recovering from Tommy John surgery. He is looking as good as he did prior to the injury. He can consistently hit 92 (and as high as 94-96) and sports a couple of good breaking pitches.

19. Miguel Vargas, 3B (Preseason #17)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+

Vargas’ hit tool is legit with excellent strike zone awareness. Would love to see him develop some more power, but 19 year olds performing the way he is now have a good chance of making the pros. If he can pick up extra positional capabilities (4 games at 2B in 2018 and 2019 combined), then that would improve his chances.

20. Gerardo Carrillo, RHP (Preseason #21)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+

Carillo has been labeled a sleeper in the Dodger system. If he can continue to develop a third pitch (curveball…he already has a good fastball/changeup approach) and keep the walk rates down, then there’s starting potential. But there is always relief risk, particularly if at least of the two aforementioned items don’t materialize.

21. Alex De Jesus, IF (Preseason N/A)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: AZL

I’m really not quite sure where to slot De Jesus. But, I do think he should be on everyone’s radar. And #22 seems high enough to get your attention. The Dodgers were aggressive with assigning him to the AZL rather than the Dominican Summer League. He’s only gotten into 15 games so far, and he has played a mix of positions (2B=2, 3B=5, SS=8). But, the reports were that he has an intriguing hit/power combination.

22. Jacob Amaya, SS (Preseason #35)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+

Big jump for Amaya, moving from #35 to #24. Seems warranted to me, and I could see an argument to move him a few more slots. He displays good plate awareness, which could be enough (along with middle infield defense) to get him to the majors. He’s unlikely to ever develop power, so upside is most likely limited to an utility bat.


Tier 4

23. Cristian Santana, 3B (Preseason #20)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA

Bias Alert: I am immediately turned away from prospects with sub 5% walk rates; call it my OBP league bias. With that out of the way, Santana is a legitimate prospect who has kept up a steady performance after being promoted to AA in 2019. There’s a good chance Santana ultimately moves off 3B in favor of 1B or OF. He’ll need to depend on his bat more if that were to happen, but there are enough flaws that I am not super high on him (again, I recognize my bias). His defense is better than some of the other similar players in the system (e.g., Rios).

24. Edwin Rios, 1B/3B (Preseason #12)
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Rios is the one of the big downgrades on this list. He fits the Dodgers mold of high power, high strike out rate. But Rios is now 25 years old, and I need to see something more (improved walk rate, more confidence in moving off 1B in majors). All of that said, he still has two more options after this year which means he should be up-and-down with the club. So, we should find out quick whether he can become a regular or at least a good bench bat.

25. Carlos Rincon, OF (Preseason #26)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA

Broken record at this point: high strikeout rate and great power. The more he manages the plate (i.e., maintains a good walk rate), the more likely he’ll be able to leverage that power into a major league opportunity.

26. Braydon Fisher, RHP (Preseason #18)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Injured

Fisher flashed promise in 2018, but he has sat all year so far due to Tommy John surgery. He is not projected back until some time in 2020. And given the normal treatment is to slowly build arm strength, I would not expect to see Fisher with significant innings until 2021.

27. Ryan Pepiot, RHP (Preseason N/A)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A

The Dodgers selected Pepiot in the 3rd round with the #102 pick in the draft (for what it’s worth, MLB Pipeline had him listed as the 72nd best prospect). Pepiot has a great chageup, and can run his fastball up to 96 mph (normally sits 90-94).

28. John Rooney, LHP (Preseason #24)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+

If Rooney ever makes it to a major league starting rotation, I can only image there will be an over/under on the number of times announcers use the phrase crafty lefty. Rooney does not have a dominant fastball, but he makes good use of it. He has enough tools to make that a possibility, but it also would not be surprising to see Rooney stall out.

29. Jordan Sheffield, RHP (Preseason #13)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA

Move to the bullpen hurts his fantasy stock, but makes him a more viable player in the majors. He’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason (or risk losing in the Rule 5 draft), so I would expect to see him ply his trade in the majors at some point next year. He’ll ultimately need to bring the walk rate down to see prolonged success.

30. Edwin Uceta, RHP (Preseason #16)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA

Photo credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick

I am not as much of a believer as many with Uceta. I see a future relief pitcher. But, he has a mini breakout in Rancho Cucamongo this year, and has done well enough with the AA squad after getting promoted. I am putting him squarely in the wait-and-see camp. But, hopefully this is high enough to make sure he is on everyone’s radar.

31. Josh Sborz, RHP (Preseason #13)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Nothing sexy here. He’s a middle relief pitching prospect, but he has made the Dodgers 40-man. And with better control than other relievers, he could be useful in the pen. But not exactly what we are looking for in fantasy baseball (unless you’re in a crazy deep league like me); I mean, I got good value using Dan Otero for a couple years; so, there’s no reason Sborz can’t have his place if he can carve out a place in the bullpen.

32. Robinson Ortiz, LHP (Preseason #29)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A

Ortiz is too young to write off, but compared to some of the other Dodgers prospects, Ortiz seems like just a guy. That said, he is a LHP who can get his fastball up to 94 mph. And he has at least two potentially average (or better) breaking pitches. It would not be a surprise if Ortiz found himself climbing the rankings without much change.

33. Carlos Duran, RHP (Preseason N/A)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie

Duran is a massive pitcher: 6’7″, 250 pounds. He’s walking more batters this year, but his secondary pitches are still assets. If he can find the pinpoint control he showed in his inaugural year, then he’ll definitely be someone worth watching.

34. Leonel Valera, SS (Preseason N/A)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A
Valera is a young, raw prospect. Lots of physical tools provide him a path to the majors, but he’ll need more work on his hit tool to get there. Given his frame, it is unlikely he ever taps into power. I would suggest keeping a close eye on him.

35. Jimmy Lewis, RHP (Preseason N/A)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Hasn’t debuted yet

Mr. Irrelevant (of Day 1), which still makes Lewis the 78th overall pick from the 2019 draft. Of the players on this list, this may be the one most under-ranked. By all measure, the Dodgers got good value with this pick (most draft rankings had him no worse than #64). At 6’6″ and already touching 95 mph, Lewis has a lot to dream on.

36. Yadier Alvarez, RHP (Preseason #13)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: MLB

I have a feeling that a year from now, this will look foolish one way or another. Alvarez has the talent to be much higher on this list, but the injury history seems enough to derail his MLB career.

37. Devin Mann, 2B (Preseason #40)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A-

Mann is another guy worth paying attention to. He has performed well enough of this year to make one believe there is something there. He has also starting splitting time at 3B (48 games at second, and 42 games at third), which gives him more positional flexibility.

38. Connor Joe, OF (Preseason N/A)
Age: 27
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Joe has been well-traveled this year, but ultimately ended up back where he started: with the Dodgers. The minors bat is real; we just need to see it translate to the professional game.

39. Drew Jackson, SS (Preseason N/A – Rule 5 pick)
Age: 26
2019 Highest Level: MLB

Time is running out for Jackson to make his mark. And if he does do that, it will most likely be as a 25th utility player (so far in 2019, he has played at least one game at 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, and RF)


Tier 5
40. Zach Reks, OF/1B (Preseason #39)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AAA

Bit older (25) and positional limitations minimize his upside. But is tapping into some power that now makes him interesting.

41. Marshall Kasowski, RHP (Preseason #22)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA

The downward shift compared to preseason has more to do with new names showing up, as well as personal preference; and much less to do with Kasowski himself. There’s not much reason to expect Kasowski to be anything but a relief pitcher. But he has the tools to be a successful one, especially if he can pick a secondary pitch to complement his 93-97 mph fastball.

42. Cody Thomas, OF (Preseason #36)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA

Thomas has maintained rather consistent plate discipline numbers (around 8.5 BB% and 27-29 K% across three levels in 2017-2019). His Rule 5 eligibility this winter may force the Dodgers’ hands to either promote to 40-man, or let him possibly be drafted by another team.

43. Jared Walker, 1B/3B (Preseason #32)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AA

Prior to 2019, Walker had been splitting time between 1B and 3B, but this year, he has almost exclusively played first (6 games at 2B and 2 games at 3B). If he is a 1B-only guy, then it will be difficult for him to succeed in the majors without improvements at the plate

44. Starling Heredia, OF (Preseason #28)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+

Oh how the star(ling) has fallen. So much to love about Heredia, but the unsightly strikeout rate (should have saved my Hawkins reference for here) will most likely keep him from doing anything with it.

45. Zach Willeman, RHP (Preseason N/A)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A

Willeman looked good prior to injury, but has yet to find the same touch.

46. James Outman, OF (Preseason #46)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A

Tripp was high enough on the 2018 7th round pick to include him on the preseason list. His 2019 has been roughly similar to his 2018, so no reason to remove him just yet.

47. Jerming Rosario, RHP (Preseason N/A)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: Rookie (DSL)

Another case of an international prospect that is worth keeping an eye on. He is 17 years old, and currently hitting upwards of 91 with the fastball. Dodgers thought enough of him to offer $600,000 in July 2018.

48. Morgan Cooper, RHP (Preseason #37)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Hasn’t debuted yet, on Injured List with Rookie league (Ogden)

Cooper should quite possibly be dropped from the list since he has yet to pitch in professional ball since being drafted in 2017. But, he looked good in college and had enough optimism when drafted that I’ll keep him on for one more season.

49. Andy Pages, OF (Preseason N/A)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie

Fangraphs’ (savage) description is appropriate: “The defensive limitations will make it a tough profile but Pages’ career is off to a good start considering he’s not physically remarkable”. He has shown enough potential for power to at least be interesting.

50. Errol Robinson, SS (Preseason #31)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA

Good contact skills, but not enough power to make a difference in majors. Most likely will need to latch on as a utility guy (experience at 2B, SS, and 3B, as well as very limited games at OF).

And one more. Why not?
Leo Crawford, LHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA

Photo credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick

We’re not specifically ranking him 51st as many could argue he might be in the Dodgers’ Top 20 or 30. Let’s just say that he’s had a very good season between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, highlighted by his 9 inning, 3 hit shutout on July 9th at Lake Elsinore. On the season he’s maintaining a 10.0 K/9 and only 2.0 BB/9. With a solid 2.79 ERA in 24 games (20 GS), look for Crawford to compete for a Triple-A rotation spot in 2020, with a chance to reach Chavez Ravine at some point next year.




3 Comments

  1. Is there a reason that Zach McKinstry isn’t listed. I know there no way he keeps up the pace at AAA he’s on, but he does have OBP of .375 the past 2 years and his home runs have increased as well. Is he just to old now, plays a position that almost makes in impossible to crack or was so far down in the rankings earlier this year that people refuse to notice him? Just wondering

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