2014 Los Angeles Dodgers Top Prospects: #20-11
And now, the Dodgers’ #20-11 prospects heading into the 2014 season.
20. Victor Arano, RHP
One of the lesser known international signings coming into the season, Arano was inked out of Mexico in April of 2013. Two months later, he was pitching for the AZL Dodgers and impressed evaluators and scouts with his stuff and performance.
Victor has solid size at 6’2 and 200 lbs, with a loose arm that suggests projection. His fastball already resides comfortably in the low 90s and he adds both a curve and change-up that project as above average. He struck out just under a batter an inning, kept the ball on the ground and kept his walks down.
While Julio Urias has gotten most of the attention, and deservedly so, the Dodgers have found a few other arms in Mexico that have some nice upside. Arano could be challenged with an assignment to Great Lakes to begin 2014.
19. Alex Santana, 3B [image src=”http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000zHP55G8x954/t/150/I0000zHP55G8x954.jpg” title=”Alex Santana” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
It was a surprise when Santana’s name was called in the second round of the 2011 draft, but some quick research revealed why the Dodgers had so much interest in the lanky Puerto Rican. The son of former major leaguer Rafael, Alex possesses a big frame that oozes projection and athleticism.
Santana didn’t hit the ground running in pro ball. On the contrary, he struggled in his first two seasons, striking out 134 times in 100 games. He seemed to finally turn the corner in 2013, batting .327/.391/.444 with Ogden. He also drastically cut down on his strikeouts, whiffing in less than 20% of his plate appearances.
At 6’4, it’s taken some time for Alex to grow into his body. There’s some obvious length to his swing, but he’s shortened it up a little bit and grown more patient at the plate. He’s still a work in progress in the field, with 60 errors in 125 games at third base, but evaluators believe he can be a good defender eventually.
He’ll be 20 this season, so it’s about time he leaves the comforts of rookie ball and makes his way to Low A, where he’ll be the Loons’ third baseman.
18. Justin Chigbogu, 1B [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/3/8/0/56141380/cuts/56_Chigbogu_1oygne5s_khz5y74n.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Justin Chigbogu” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Chigbogu played defensive end in high school and it shows. He’s still built like a football player and presents and intimidating presence at the plate. And when he makes contact, the ball can travel a long, long way.
The lefty has elicited comparisons to Ryan Howard for his build, swing and power potential, though he’s a ways away from realizing that potential. While he has an advanced ability to drive the ball out of the park the other way, he needs to work hard on making more contact, as he struck out in more than a third of his plate appearances in 2013. He’s a good athlete for his size, but definitely a first baseman.
Justin will likely start 2014 on the opposite side of the diamond from Alex Santana. Expect a lot of swing-and-miss but some memorable moonshots from this developing slugger.
17. Victor Gonzalez, LHP
Like Arano, Gonzalez wasn’t a highly touted prospect out of Mexico, signing in July of 2012 but not pitching until 2013. However, once he got on the mound, he opened eyes with his stuff and production.
Victor isn’t another Urias, but he’s got good stuff in an average fastball and a good changeup. He can even spin a decent curve. What really stood out was how he dominated the Arizona League as a 17 year old. He struck out 45 batters in 38 innings, walked just 12 and allowed only 1 home run.
The Dodgers have been more aggressive with their prospect recently, so it’s not out of the question to expect to see Gonzalez start 2014 with Great Lakes as an 18 year old. My money is on him more than holding his own and giving Dodgers and Loons fans alike another young Mexican lefty to root for.
16. Joey Curletta, OF [image src=”http://www.baseballtucson.com/wp-content/gallery/2013-vamos-a-tucson-mexican-baseball-fiesta/joey-curletta.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Joey Curletta” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Yet another 2012 draftee, Curletta was signed as a 6th rounder out of Mountain Pointe High School in Arizona. After a tough debut, he stung the ball in his second taste of pro ball, earning at least one comparison to Angels-turned-Diamondbacks slugger Mark Trumbo.
An imposing presence at 6’4 and 225 lbs, Joey’s power is still developing as he’s working on his swing mechanics and needs to incorporate his lower half better. He moves well for a big fella and has a strong arm, suitable for right field. He made plenty of contact in 2013 and even showed the ability to draw a walk.
Curletta figures to man right field in Great Lakes to start 2014, a tough assignment for a 20 year old. However, if he continues developing like he did from 2012 to 2013, he should meet the challenge of the Midwest League.
15. Jacob Scavuzzo, OF [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/2/0/0/58136200/cuts/7_scavuzzu_hr_ovuhmkap_whffdb3f.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Jacob Scavuzzo” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Scavuzzo was drafted 15 rounds after Curletta in 2012 but has just as much potential. That was evident in his second season, alongside his draftmate, in Ogden. The lanky outfielder flew up scouts’ radars and established himself as a breakout candidate for the upcoming season.
Also standing 6’4, but less physically mature, Jacob offers an intriguing package of tools. He played football in high school and shows speed in his galloping gate, though he hasn’t honed his basestealing skills yet. He absolutely exploded last July, smacking 8 home runs in 23 games to post a .695 SLG for the month. While he struggled to draw walks early in the season, he drew more as the year went on.
While he also played left field in Ogden, expect the Dodgers to develop Scavuzzo in center going forward. He’ll replace a good defender in James Baldwin III, so hopefully he can fill those shoes.
14. Scott Schebler, OF [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/6/1/6/53928616/cuts/9186011400_ee5e07ec42_c_hu99sh6z_m2i0q1by.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Scott Schebler” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
A little birdie told me before the season that Scott Schebler would breakout in 2013. That little birdie was right. He was the Dodgers’ Branch Rickey Award winner, given to the best players in the farm system.
Sure, moving from the pitcher-friendly Midwest League to the hitter-friendly California League helped, but Scott did more than anyone could have expected. He OPSd .941, 3rd in the league for players with at least 100 games, he finished second with 27 home runs and led the circuit in total bases.
Scout are wary of Schebler’s performance, hedging that he may be the product of his environment. 2014 is the year for him to prove his doubters wrong. He’ll be heading to the Southern League, notorious for its pitchers’ ballparks. Double A is the make-or-break level for all prospects, and it will be no exception for Scott.
13. Tom Windle, LHP [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/7/5/0/53592750/cuts/windle_yj2nvonw_4h9gzrd6.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Tom Windle” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
The Dodgers’ 2013 first rounder, Chris Anderson, was a fairly understandable choice: big, strong guy with the potential for three above average or better pitches. The second rounder, Windle, was more curious. A college lefty with a rough delivery who may end up in the bullpen? Haven’t we heard that one before?
Well, concerns were partially allayed in Tom’s debut, as he showed a much smoother arm action and two consistently above average pitches. His fastball and slider give him weapons that overpower less experienced hitters and he’ll even mix in a changeup now and then. He showed solid ability to miss bats and hit the strike zone while keeping the ball in the park.
Depending on how the Dodgers develop him, Windle could move quickly as a late-inning reliever. However, I get the feeling that, like with Chris Reed, the organization will make him prove that he can’t start anymore. He should begin 2014 in Rancho.
12. Yimi Garcia, RHP [image src=”http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/assets/images/5/6/0/64082560/cuts/garcia480_l86kmeu7_lv0yudh1.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Yimi Garcia” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
In some ways, Garcia reminds me of former Dodger Shawn Tolleson. Both are relievers without overpowering stuff who seem to get great results.
Thanks to his inclusion in the Arizona Fall League, there is data to suggest how Yimi gets his swings and misses. TrackMan, which uses radar tracking to quantify 27 different measurements, was used in the AFL for the first time and showed that Garcia gets an unusually high amount of spin on his pitches. The major league average RPM for a fastball is 2,400; Garcia gets 2,504. His slider gets even more spin, at 2,688 RPM. There is a correlation between spin rate and swinging strike rate, which explains his success.
It was looking like Yimi would have a shot at the bullpen going into spring training, but the signings of Chris Perez and Jamey Wright all but relegate him to Triple A for now. He’s still young enough and has options, so when injuries inevitably hit, Garcia should be at the top of the list to fill in.
11. Matt Magill, RHP
The Dodgers took a flier on Magill out of high school, signing him as a 31st rounder in 2008. He improved steadily over the past handful of years, breaking out with Chattanooga as a 22 year old. He finally got his shot at the show in 2013, but his command abandoned him and he had to return to Albuquerque.
Matt has a relatively average fastball for a righty, sitting at 91mph in the majors. His slider, which had been his bread and butter pitch in the minors, got hit hard, leading to a -3.30 wSL/C grade on Fangraphs, meaning it was worth -3.3 runs below average per 100 thrown. He didn’t use his curve or change much.
Magill’s main problem was throwing strikes, as he walked 28 batters in 27.2 innings. However, his issue likely wasn’t mechanical. Hopefully a return to Triple A in 2014 can help him return to prior form and be at the ready if the Dodgers need another starter.
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