2014 Los Angeles Dodgers Top Prospects: #30-21
Now, the third part of my five part series, highlighting the Dodgers’ #30-21 prospects entering 2014.
30. Darnell Sweeney, 2B/SS [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/3/7/8/48637378/cuts/Darnell_Sweeney_041413_0266_ynfhow7w_36o4yupy.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Darnell Sweeney” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Another late-rounder from the 2012 class, Sweeney spent his entire first full season in High A with the Quakes. The results were good, as he batted .275/.329/.455 with 48 stolen bases in 68 attempts. Naturally a shortstop, Darnell moved over to second in deference to uber-prospect Corey Seager late in the year and handled the transition nicely.
He’s better with the glove at second than short and may make his home there, though both middle infield spots should be up for grabs in Chattanooga, where Sweeney figures to start 2014. He needs to polish up his plate discipline and baserunning, as well as his defense at short, but the potential is there for a speedy guy up the middle.
29. Jesmuel Valentin, 2B/SS
Yes, there’s a pattern here. Another 2012 draft pick. Another guy signed as a shortstop who also played second base. Here’s the difference: there’s a belief that Valentin will stick at short. The 19 year old Puerto Rican native spent time between both positions at two stops last year. After struggling to hit Midwest League pitching, Valentin was sent down to Ogden where his bat heated up.
The son of former Dodger infield Jose, Jesmuel showed a propensity to draw a walk in his debut and that continued into his sophomore effort. However, he struggled to make contact with Great Lakes and batted a satisfactory .284 in the Pioneer League. He doesn’t offer a lot of speed or power, so making contact will be key to his success at the plate, supplementing his ability to walk.
Valentin compares to former Dodgers’ infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. in a number of ways: a Puerto Rican native with bloodlines who can walk and play good defense up the middle. They were even taken with the same pick (#51 overall). Here’s hoping Jesmuel succeeds where Ivan did not.
28. Ralston Cash, RHP [image src=”http://www.milb.com/images/2012/06/08/OThCu6fu.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Ralston Cash” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Better known as “Ethan Martin’s cousin,” Cash was the Dodgers’ surprise second rounder in 2010. He missed all of 2011 with a hip injury but came back in 2012 and continued to show why the Dodgers drafted him high in 2013.
At his best, Ralston can overpower hitters with a fastball that regularly registers in the mid 90s and throw them off with a hard slider. He’s struggled to throw strikes since returning from the injury but he misses plenty of bats. Given his repertoire and injury history, a move to the bullpen could be in his future.
27. Duke von Schamann, RHP
First, his first name isn’t really Duke. I know, it’s disappointing, but it’s the truth.
DVS was taken in the 15th round of the 2012 draft and immediately made his mark. After just two games in Ogden, he moved up to Great Lakes and posted a 3.22 ERA in 12 starts before finishing the season with a cup of coffee in Chattanooga. In 2012, he started in Rancho and posted solid numbers before returning to Double A and holding his own, despite a bloated ERA.
Von Schamann’s stuff is pretty average across the board. He makes his living changing speeds and hitting spots. He also keeps the ball on the ground pretty well. However, his lack of an out pitch and average velocity means he’s likely a back-end starter at best.
Duke is likely headed to his third showing with the Lookouts. And you know what they say about the third time.
26. Seth Rosin, RHP [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/3/2/8/56312328/cuts/Rosin_480x270_4o84lko3_rxhz8izh.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Seth Rosin” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
The Dodgers don’t make a lot of Rule 5 picks, so it was a surprise when they bought Rosin away from the Mets, who had drafted him from the Phillies. The Phillies received him in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to the Giants. Confused yet? Good.
Primarily a reliever in San Francisco’s system, the Phillies wanted Rosin to start. His stuff backed up and he struggled in Double A, putting up fairly pedestrian but not horrible numbers. In relief, his stuff plays up and he keeps the ball down. If he sticks on the Dodgers’ roster, he’s likely a swingman/longman. If not, he returns to the Phillies.
25. Jonathan Garcia, OF
Another Puerto Rican native, Garcia was taken in the 8th round of the 2009 draft. He hit will in his first two seasons, then struggled in the next two. In 2013, he found a resurgence in the hitter-friendly California League, posting a .911 OPS with 17 homers in 68 games. The Dodgers decided to test him against Double A pitching and he struggled, batting just .168 in his final 56 contests.
Jon is a power/power guy, capable of hitting home runs and keeping opposing baserunners honest. Between Rancho and Chattanooga in 2013, he totaled 18 home runs and 15 outfield assists. He’s not the fastest runner but he can cover some ground in the outfield.
He’s only 22, so Garcia is still young for Double A, which is where he figures to begin 2014. It would help if he drew some walks and cut down on the K’s. This could be a make or break year for the young outfielder.
24. Pedro Baez, RHP [image src=”http://www.chadmoriyama.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/PedroBaez.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Pedro Baez” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Baez was once a top prospect as a third baseman, but his arm strength always stood out. Dodgers’ head of scouting Logan White once clocked him at over 90mph across the diamond. The bat was the question, and the Dodgers answered it last year when they took the bat out of his hands and put him on the mound.
Pedro earned rave reviews from Sandy Koufax in spring training, who said the Dominican had a natural feel for the craft. And the 25 year old did nothing to dispel the legend’s platitudes, as he held his own in two very unfriendly environments for a guy who’s trying to re-invent himself.
Let me be clear: Pedro Baez is not another Kenley Jansen. However, there’s enough talent here to justify some optimism that the righty can reach the majors as a relief pitcher. And that would be quite an accomplishment.
23. Zachary Bird, RHP
Yet another 2012 selection, Bird signed for slot as a 9th rounder and was immediately considered a steal. He pitched well in his debut and was moved to Great Lakes in his first full season. Unfortunately, he couldn’t meet the challenge of A ball and had to return to the rookie leagues.
Bird reminds me of former Dodgers prospect James McDonald. Both are tall, long limbed righties with over the top deliveries and three pitch mixes. Zach attacks the zone with a low 90s fastball, a big breaking curve and the makings of a solid changeup. However, he struggles repeating his delivery, which leads to walks and hard hits.
Still, he’s just 19 and will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself. If everything comes together, he’ll prove the Dodgers’ scouting staff geniuses.
22. Cody Bellinger, 1B [image src=”http://a.espncdn.com/media/motion/2012/0805/rise_120805_area_code_cody_bellinger/rise_120805_area_code_cody_bellinger.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Cody Bellinger” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
The Dodgers like certain types of players. Lefty-swinging high schoolers with bloodlines is definitely a type they go for, and that was clear when they took Bellinger in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. His father, Clay, spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues and he hopes his son can follow in his footsteps.
Cody struggled a bit in his debut, which is natural given his long levers. At 6’4, he needs to stay short and direct to the ball. He’s a good athlete, who tripled 6 times in 47 games and can really pick it at first. He can also draw a walk.
Power isn’t really part of his game right now, as he hit just one homer in his debut. However, given his body and age (2014 will be his age 18 season), there’s room for him to grow physically and developmentally. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stayed in rookie ball, manning first base for Ogden this summer.
21. Noel Cuevas, CF
Cuevas caught my eye on video prior to the 2010 draft, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Dodgers drafted him in the 21st round and went over slot to sign him. He struggled to hit outside of rookie ball in his first two seasons, but finally figured things out in Rancho last season.
Noel has five tool ability, displaying impressive range in center field despite his size (he’s listed at 6’2 and 187 lbs, but he’s filled out physically). He also stole 38 bases in 53 tries. Most impressively, he reached double digits in doubles, triples and home runs in 2013, a rare feat.
Still just 22, Cuevas needs to prove that his breakout wasn’t a Cal League mirage. He has the tools to be a major league outfielder but must refine his offensive approach in order to fulfill his potential. Heading to Double A in 2014 will be the ultimate test.
ICYMI: Here’s our Dodgers Nation Week In Review Video