2023 may seem like it is far away, but 5 years is a fairly short time that will arrive quickly. Though it is impossible to foresee who will leave via free agency and trades over the next 5 years, it is still fun to see what the Dodgers’ 2023 lineup and rotation would look like using only the prospects we have in our system right now. This fun exercise will also give you a brief insight into what kind of players we have. We will also rank the likelihood, on a scale of 1 to 5, how likely someone will be starting at that position in 2023. With 5 being the most likely. So let’s dive right into what the Dodgers’ 2023 lineup and rotation would look like using only the prospects in our system right now.
Catcher – Keibert Ruiz. Ruiz is presently one of the top prospects in our system. Currently he has made it as high as A+ Rancho Cucamonga. With a high contact approach, Ruiz could potentially be a .300 hitter that plays above average defense behind the dish. He actually stands a pretty high chance of being our starting catcher by the time 2023 rolls around. He checks in at a 5 on our scale.
First-Base – Edwin Rios. At this point Cody Bellinger is our first-baseman for now and the future. But in the freak event that he either gets traded, or fabulously falters, Rios would be next in line at first-base. At numerous points we’ve covered Rios’ mammoth raw power. His limited defensive skills will likely keep him relegated to first-base. Bellinger is under team control through 2023, so Rios checks in at a 1 on our scale.
Second-Base – Gavin Lux. Lux is currently one of our main shortstop prospects, but he also has seen a great deal of time at second-base as well. Because of this he is the most likely to be playing second-base in 2023. Second-base has a lot of uncertainty in our future. It is one of the few areas people point to as a weakness in our system right now. Depth up the middle is hard to come by. If Lux actually develops a solid hitting ability, it’s fairly reasonable to say he will be at second-base in 2023. He is a 3 on our scale.
Shortstop – Errol Robinson. Unless Seager is extended or re-signed, he could very well leave the team in 2021. Now, with an abundance of skilled shortstops in the Majors right now, the Dodgers don’t necessarily need to promote from within in that scenario. With that in mind, Errol Robinson is the most likely prospect to stick at shortstop right now. He has one of the best gloves in our system, and can actually hit decently. But Seager is some huge shoes to fill, and even if Robinson is average, it will be a huge downgrade. Robinson checks in at 2 on our scale.
Third-Base – Cristian Santana. Santana has the skills to play the hot corner defensively. And as an additional boon he boasts some excellent raw power and hitting skills. Despite his hyper-aggressive approach he managed to put up a .363/.390/.563 triple-slash in 2017. If he continues his development and gets better and better, he will certainly be our most likely successor to Justin Turner at the hot corner. He checks in at a 4 on our scale only because he still has a lot of time he needs to develop in the minors.
Left-Field – Yusniel Diaz. Diaz has the skills to be a great centerfielder, but we will see in the next paragraph why he slides over to left-field. He has good speed, defense, and bat to ball skills. He has a chance to be a fringe All-Star caliber outfielder, and could really become special in left-field. In 2023 there wouldn’t appear to be anyone in his way in left-field, so he gets the start there. He lands at a 4 on our scale. There is a chance that DJ Peters could overtake him for LF as Peters would slide down on the depth chart in CF and RF.
Center-Field – Jeren Kendall. This would be the ultimate prize for our current farm system. Kendall has true 5 tool potential. Not since Matt Kemp has anyone displayed his type of all around tools. If he can live up to even 75% of his true ceiling, he will still be a borderline perennial All-Star. Pederson, Taylor, and others are all free agents by this point, so the gig in CF is Jeren Kendall’s. He checks in at a 4 only because he could have competition for CF from other prospects like Diaz and DJ Peters.
Right-Field – Alex Verdugo. Puig’s contract is up following the 2019 season. Alex Verdugo is lined up to be the most likely heir to right-field. With his cannon arm, and excellent plate discipline, it isn’t hard to imagine him as the starting right-fielder in 2023. He may play other positions until Puig leaves, but for now Verdugo is the right-fielder of the future. So he is a 5 on our scale right now.
Starters – Walker Buehler, Yadier Alvarez, Mitchell White, Dennis Santana, Dustin May. All five of these pitchers are excellent prospects right now, but a lot would have to happen for all 5 to be in the rotation at 2023 at the same time. Buehler, Alvarez, and White are all hopefuls for the rotation in the next few years, as current starters leave. Buehler certainly has that ace upside, as does Alvarez. White has more of a solid #2 ceiling. Both Santana and May have more of outside chances as they would need the opportunity and development time to break into the rotation. But both players would definitely be a solid 4-5 in the rotation. If I am completely honest, I would be perfectly ok with a rotation like this, even if we had 100% turnover in our rotation now. It would certainly be a solid 1 through 5.
With these 5 starters Buehler and White both seem like rotation locks for the future. They are 5’s on our list. I would say that Alvarez and Santana both check in as 3’s because they both stand just a good of a chance of transitioning to bullpen arms. And Dustin May is a 2 because he is still way too early in his development to really say with certainty he is a lock to be a starter in 2023.
The Takeaways For the Dodgers’ 2023 Lineup and Rotation
The biggest thing to remember in this exercise is that it is purely speculative and fun. No one expects the Dodgers to lose all of Kershaw, Bellinger, Seager, etc, in the coming years. Nor does anyone expect the Dodgers to not sign any free agents, or trade for additional talent, or draft any studs in the next 5 years. This is more or less meant to be an exercise to highlight what players would be lined up on our current depth charts to play each position on the roster in 2023. All in all the Dodgers’ 2023 lineup and rotation should be a good, regardless of who is in it.