After the Dodgers lost to the eventual MLB Champion Braves in 2021, they are primed for yet another deep run into the playoffs with nothing short of another MLB title on their minds. How have the Dodgers been so unbelievably consistent throughout the past decade? Prospects, prospects, prospects. Their Player Development team is second-to-none. Countless relative “unknowns” have continually ascended through the Dodgers’ system, inevitably playing key roles down the stretch, into the playoffs, and eventually in the World Series.
So, how does this lauded system look after our heroes licked their wounds all offseason? Better than ever. A myriad of players broke out in a number of big ways in 2021. They have a brand new #1 overall prospect, starting pitching prospects a-plenty, and a brand new stack of newcomers who are ready to further their ascension in 2022. It’s an exciting organization to be a part of and I am fully prepared for an excellent season to come!
Therefore please, sick back, relax, and enjoy the ride…
Dodgers Minor League Affiliates:
Oklahoma City Dodgers – AAA
Tulsa Drillers – AA
Great Lakes Loons – High-A
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – Low-A
AZL Dodgers, ACL Dodgers, DSL Dodgers Shoemaker, and DSL Dodgers Bautista – Rookie
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 a high likelihood of making the majors, but provide minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making a team’s 40-man roster.
Levels listed for each player are the highest level player reached in 2021.
1. Diego Cartaya, C, 20, Low-A
Cartaya’s sonic-boom-level hit-tool with, at-minimum, plus-power, lay the foundation for what the Dodgers hope will be a middle-of-the-order masher for several years to come. At 6’1″, 200 lbs, Cartaya is a physically gifted beast in the box and behind the plate. A prospect for the ages, Cartaya’s mental and physical makeup are second-to-none.
Though the youngster draws a natural comparison with Salvy Perez, I contest Cartaya’s swing is more in line with White Sox 1B Jose Abreu. Either comp is flattery, without question. Both possess the two stalwarts of Cartaya’s arsenal, elite hard contact and high exit velocity. 2022 finds this über-prospect in his 20’s for the first time in his pro career. Expect further improvements from the talented backstop in the year to come.
2. Bobby Miller, RHP, 22, AA
At 6’5”, 220 lbs, Miller’s physical gifts are apparent to anyone who’s seen him atop the mound. His imposing demeanor is furthered by a skillset just as intimidating. Four and two-seam fastballs debut as the prospect’s immediate 1-2 punch. The former tops out at 100 MPH with rise. The latter cuts away with sink and tail and lives in the 95-97 MPH range.
Miller’s best secondary pitch is his 84-87 MPH slider. Equipped with two planes of late-acting break, the young hurler incites plenty of swings and misses. Add a 86-89 MPH changeup with the same action as his running two-seam FB. And finish with a hard-biting curveball that lands with increased frequency at 78-81 MPH. Not too shabby.
There are still questions regarding Miller’s durability throughout an entire season, yet he thoroughly checks every box in his application for ‘ace-dom.’
3. Miguel Vargas, 3B, 22, AA
Blessed with ultra-quick soft hands, and power to all fields, Vargas officially landed on the national prospect stage in 2021. An import from Cuba, Vargas possesses the best hit tool in the entire Dodgers system. He ended 2021 with the third-most hits in all of Minor League Baseball and this: .319 AVG / .380 OBP / .526 SLG, 23 HR, and 11 SB.
Very still in the box, almost motionless, Vargas explodes onto the ball with those aforementioned lightning strikes for hands. And if he gets on top of it, watch that baby sail. The beauty of the Cuban’s swing is all in the follow-through. The natural trajectory of his swing path launches the ball with minimal noise upon the point of contact. It’s truly a pleasure to watch. Look for Vargas to start poking his way onto the MLB roster in 2022, as early as the All-Star Break.
4. Andy Pages, OF, 21, High-A
Arguably the most exciting young prospect in the Dodgers’ system, Pages, pronounced PAH-hez, uses his natural hitting ability to tap into his unfettered pop. His swing is tailored with loft and explosion. Thus, murdering the bottom half of the zone but subsequently leaving himself vulnerable to the lower half.
Having just turned 21 a month ago, Pages’ tantalizing upside is no longer just talk. The young slugger went yard 31 times in 2021. Dodgers’ Player Development will likely want to find a comfortable median in Pages’ swing, bridging the gap between his innate hitting ability and his substantial pop. Given the Dodgers’ track record of successfully coxing the most out of its players, Pages should reap the rewards in this upcoming season.
5. Michael Busch, 2B, 24, AA
Manning the keystone for the Dodgers’ organization, the natural-hitting Busch has already elicited comparisons with the one-time Dodger, Chase Utley. High praise indeed. Yet Busch has not done anything to dissuade any such comparisons, having finished 2021 with a .267 AVG / .386 OBP / .484 SLG / 20 HR / and 2 SB.
The former first-rounder prospect (2019) strokes the ball with consistency from the left side of the box. His approach is arguably the best in the Dodgers’ system. If patience is a virtue, Busch is a virtuous man. After his first full season of pro-ball, Busch’s OBP finished in the 1st percentile across all of Minor League Baseball. Look for the Tarheel to push for a spot in the Dodgers’ lineup in 2022.
6. Ryan Pepiot, RHP, 24, AAA
Drafted in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Pepiot is the highest selected draft pick in Butler’s history. Armed with an 80-grade changeup that darts away from lefties and in-on righties, Pepiot’s go-to secondary willingly induces strikeouts from either side of the plate.
He sets that pitch up with a 70-grade FB that mirrors the exact action, arm-angle, and release as his “four” except its 10 MPH faster. Those two pitches alone would be enough to make the Bigs. But Pepiot also comes equipped with two breaking balls – slider and curve – and the former flashes ahead of the latter. He’ll need to clean up his control before he makes the Bigs as a starter. As too many of his starts have been cut short due to walks. Regardless, the righty prospect finds himself in the perfect place to correct mechanical errors. Expect to see him in a Dodger uniform in 2022.
7. Landon Knack, RHP, 24, AA
Taken in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB Draft, Knack was a relative unknown, hailing from East Tennessee State. Dodgers’ Scouting certainly knew they were onto something, however. As 2021 found Knack with considerable success. 7-1 record, promotion to Double-A, 82 K’s through 62 innings, and a 3.18 ERA with a 0.93 WHIP were just a few highlights after 2021.
En route for more innings, expect Knack to keep mowing through lineups in 2022. These are typically the type of stat-lines paired with similar quick – near-silent ascensions – that make for the best starters at the highest level. Few prospects figure it out as quickly as Knack has thus far.
Landon Knack’s 3Ks. pic.twitter.com/Go8mXlJ9AA
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 23, 2021
8. Andre Jackson, RHP, 25, MLB
Jackson has proved to be one of the best deals of the 2017 MLB Draft. Primarily used as an outfielder with Utah (NCAA) and only 12 relief appearances before being drafted as a pitcher, Jackson’s athleticism and arm strength have molded him into the MLB-ready arm we’ve come to know today.
Having made his MLB-debut last season, Jackson’s rise from college-OF prospect to MLB reliever in only 3 seasons is quite the achievement. Though I doubt that he or the Dodgers are satisfied with that thus far. There’s still work to be done, more polishing to be had. Undoubtedly, however, Jackson and the Dodgers will eventually get to where they want to be. Nothing’s stopped them thus far.
9. Eddys Leonard, 2B/SS/OF, 21, AA
This fast-rising MI cruised onto the national scene after an impressive 2021 season. Armed with lightning-fast hands, balance, and a pension for hurting pitchers’ mistakes, when inside the box, it’s not hard to envision Leonard picking up where he left off last season. Another on-base machine (.390 OBP in 2021) from the Dodgers’ system, the recently turned 21-year-old should see Triple-A in no time. The baseline tools are all there. Yet, he may have to play in the outfield to crack the Dodgers MLB roster. A switch that shouldn’t be too difficult, given his natural athleticism. Leonard is an exciting, young, and talented prospect.
Seeing triple? Or is it quadruple, three times?
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 29, 2021
10. Wilman Diaz, SS, 19, Rookie (DSL)
The youngster looks confidently relaxed standing in at the plate. His weight transfer from the back foot through to his hips is still a bit slow. That’s an easy fix for Dodgers’ Development, however. Diaz possesses a natural feel for hitting. He doesn’t rush things. The prospect’s hands are super quick. And in totality, his skillset and underlying tools lay a fantastic foundation thus far in the teen’s career. Look for big things from Diaz in the years to come.
11. Brandon Lewis, 3B, 23, High-A
I, for one, absolutely love everything there is to love about Lewis. The dude is an outright monster and at every point in his career, he’s done nothing to dissuade my reasoning for loving him. 80-power and an improving hit tool have provided Lewis and the Dodgers plenty to work with over the years. Every year Lewis has shown vast improvement from – a one-time, one-dimensional, power-only mauler – into someone who could potentially hit 35-40 bombs a year at the highest level.
6’5”, 250 lbs, Lewis’s ‘light-tower-power’ flies off scouting reports. He’ll be a 40 HR guy a year so long as he makes enough contact at the big league level. I believe he will. Big shout to big Brandon Lewis.
12. Hyun-il Choi, RHP, 21, High-A
Not much wasted motion during his windup and launch. Perhaps it’s a comfort thing but I’d love to see a better followthrough at the very last stage of Choi’s release. It feels like he’s not getting the most out of his legs, not driving the ball with his legs off of the mound with little-to-no followthrough.
Serviceable pitches through and through. No “loud” pitch or tool really stands out from the rest, yet every pitch he owns works very well for him. His numbers have proven as much thus far. High-A gave him the most adversity thus far in his pro career, yet he still improved his skillset without waning. He’ll eventually start for the Dodgers but it’ll take a little more time.
13. James Outman, OF, 24, AA
After taking a flyer on Outman early last season in my dynasty league, the Zhou Dynasty, I know that I’m not the only one who’s said aloud to themselves at least one point last year “I’d marry this man!” Outman has that effect on people. Or is it just me? Either way, the tools are absolutely no joke. Standing tall in the box, 6’3”, 215 lbs Outman makes most pitchers think twice before going down and in or practically anywhere close to Outman’s wheelhouse. This dude can mash. He can fly too. So good luck throwing him out at 3rd after he stroked a 400 ft. double and scored a pair.
Dodgers’ fans may see Outman in 2022 at Chavez Ravine.
14. Clayton Beeter, RHP, 23, AA
Hailing from Texas Tech, Beeter was taken in the 2020 MLB Draft by the Dodgers in the CB-B Round (66th overall). Since then, he’s shoved at every stop he’s landed. I don’t see any reason to contradict what’s already been laid out as a foundation of Beeter’s career. He fills up the strike zone with overwhelming stuff. He’s a merciless monster when on the hill, challenging hitters with his plus-FB and double-plus curve.
Some wonder if his size will lend himself more naturally to the bullpen. If this is indeed the case, I’m stating it now. Beeter could very well be the next best closer for the Dodgers. After Gagne and Jansen? That’s a big statement and some truly elite company. He’s that good.
15. Maddux Bruns, LHP, 19, Rookie (ACL)
I happened to fall in love with Bruns the second I watched him absolutely destroy top-tiered hitters across the country throughout the 2020-version of PG-Nationals.
Bruns is a burly 19-year-old who stands in at 6’2”, 205 lbs. The lefty’s stuff was arguably the nastiest from the left-side in all of prep-baseball coming into the 2021 MLB Draft, in which the Dodgers selected him with their first pick. He’ll take some polish and finesse however, I’m a strong believer in the Dodgers’ Player-Development team and have little-to-no doubt that Bruns will turn into an absolute stud.
16. Carlos Duran, RHP, 20, High-A
Duran’s a really fun prospect to write about because when you think of your “poster-boy” for dominant, tall, right-hand starters, Duran’s physicality is even more-so intimidating than the stereotypical versions we all have in mind. Only 20, Duran’s already had success at the High-A level.
Looming on the hill at an awe-inspiring 6’7”, 230 lbs, Duran elicits some of the most intimidating feels in all of baseball. Feel free to mention that his slide-piece is, according to Baseball America, the best slider in the Dodgers’ organization. And then take a look at his numbers. Not as awe-inspiring, on the surface, as his sheer girth, but his numbers still show a fantastic baseline to work with. We all know how the Dodgers get the very most from their players, especially from the ones who look like the Predator on the bump.
17. Leonel Valera, SS, 22, High-A
Extremely fast hands at the dish. Tall, fantastic build with the type of strength that shouldn’t be detrimental to his future at SS. Good plate discipline. Valera drops his head, uses his lower half to generate power with fluidity, along with the rest of his body. Takes what the pitcher gives and makes them pay for their mistakes.
Valera is all business on the field and plainly has “that look” of an MLB player. He reminds me a little of Fernando Tatis There’s just something about him that screams “stud.” It’s most likely the combination of his physical gifts with the production to match. But I feel like there’s something else that we haven’t yet discovered within Valera. One thing is for sure however, it’ll be a fun ride watching and waiting for that “one thing” to emerge.
18. Carson Taylor, C, 22, High-A
A patient approach allows for a discerning eye to make calculated decisions, adjustments, and on-the-fly improvisations. This switch-hitting backstop shows an innate feel for hitting smartly. Patience and control exude from Taylor every time he comes to the dish. He shows great pitch recognition and an innate feel for hitting seldom seen by catchers and especially switch-hitting catchers.
It’s obvious that his pitching staff also enjoy having Taylor behind the plate. His framing is quite good and – judging by the number of strikeouts his battery-mates had last year – he can call one helluva game too.
19. Justin Yurchak, IF, 25, AA
Acquired from the Chicago White Sox (2018) in exchange for LHP, Manny Bañuelos, Yurchak automatically aligned with the Dodgers philosophy at the plate. With the prototypical patience and ability to strike whenever a mistake is made, Yurchak’s approach serves as a model for “Dodgers’ hitters.” Counterpunching involves a high level of skill because the hitter cannot miss the opportunities he’s presented with. Yurchak is an incredible counterpuncher.
A quick and efficient swing from the left side, Yurchak’s loudest tool is undoubtedly his hit tool. A career .321 hitter, his hands stay back on balls, allowing for optimal discernment. His swing is to-the-point, with virtually no wasted movement. But it also creates enough backspin for a well-rounded loft over fences. Look for Yurchak to break into MLB if he continues his ascension. As the Dodgers are always ready to promote MLB-ready bench-bats, from either side of the plate.
20. Jorbit Vivas, 2B, 20, High-A
21. Jose Ramos, OF, 21, Low-A
22. Gavin Stone, RHP, 23, High-A
23. Kendall Williams, RHP, 21, Low-A
24. Mitch White, RHP, 27, MLB
25. Yeiner Fernandez, C, 19, Low-A
26. Luis Rodriguez, OF, 19, Rookie (ACL)
27. Alex De Jesus, SS, 19, Low-A
28. Jake Vogel, OF, 20, Low-A
29. Jesus Galiz, C, 18, Rookie (DSL)
30. Kody Hoese, 3B, 24, AA
Williams had a rough beginning to his tenure with the Dodgers. Yet the 6’6″ righty hurler is only a couple of years removed from high school, the prep-monster IMG Academy in Florida. His upside is still the ‘bee’s knees.’…..White has already made their MLB debuts, both were serviceable prospects and still young enough to improve their middling numbers…..De Jesus is still just 19. I believe he’ll eventually improve his hit tool enough to finally tap into his power on a more consistent basis…..Lastly, Hoese dealt with a myriad of injuries in 2021. Look for him to vault himself back into relevancy in a healthy 2022.
31. Devin Mann, 3B, 24, AA
32. Jimmy Lewis, RHP, 21, Low-A
33. Guillermo Zuniga, RHP, 23, AA
34. Nick Nastrini, RHP, 21, Low-A
35. Jacob Amaya, SS, 23, AA
36. Peter Heubeck, RHP, 19, Rookie (ACL)
37. Robinson Ortiz, LHP, 22, High-A
38. Ben Casparius, RHP, 22, Low-A
39. Ronan Kopp, LHP, 19, Rookie (ACL)
40. Luis Yanel Diaz, SS, 22, Low-A
41. Octavio Becerra, LHP, 20, Rookie (ACL)
42. Robbie Peto, RHP, 23, Low-A
43. Jeren Kendall, OF, 25, AA
44. Juan Morillo, RHP, 22, High-A
45. Ben Harris, LHP, 21, Low-A
46. Drew Avans, OF, 25, AAA
47. Jerming Rosario, RHP, 19, Low-A
48. Lael Lockhart, 1B/OF/LHP, 24, High-A
49. Emmet Sheehan, RHP, 22, High-A
50. Justin Wrobleski, LHP, 21, College
51. Ryan Sublette, RHP, 23, Low-A
Zuniga is an interesting prospect on the rise within the Dodgers’ system. He’s been very successful as a reliever thus far in his MiLB career. Let’s see what the Dodgers will do about his role in 2022. Perhaps he’ll start…..Nastrini is my favorite arm the Dodgers selected in 2021. He was the UCLA Bruins Ace the year before he was drafted. The Dodgers should find massive returns in Nastrini once they’ve helped him fix the control issues that plagued his last year of NCAA ball…..I continue to believe in Peto’s eventual ascension through the Dodgers system. First, he’ll have to string a few good weeks together though…..Lastly, look out for Ortiz this season friends. I’ve comped him with a left-handed Marcus Stroman. Let’s hope he’s able to cash in on that raw talent in his left arm.