Editorials

The Future: Dodgers’ 2023 Lineup and Rotation With Only Prospects

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.

Lineup

Catcher – Keibert RuizRuiz 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 LuxLux 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 RobinsonUnless 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 SantanaSantana 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.

Starting Rotation

Starters – Walker Buehler, Yadier Alvarez, Mitchell White, Dennis Santana, Dustin MayAll 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.

Blake Coble

Born and raised in SoCal and bled Blue my whole life. Absolutely love baseball and absolutely love the Boys in Blue! I have a fascination with analyzing the statistics and trends that drive player performance, and I love following our minor league prospects as well! Active duty Air Force currently stationed in Central California! Follow me on Twitter @yarritsblake

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9 Comments

  1. I follow our minor league system top to bottom on a regular basis. I really enjoyed the creativity of this article! It was a fun read in a time when there isn’t much real baseball news. My only question to you would be, why no Julio Urias in that rotation? He would only be in his late 20s by that time. Thanks for the article and keep it up!

    1. I omitted Urias because he is no longer in prospect status. He exceeded his rookie innings eligibility in 2017 by two outs! Otherwise I would have gladly included him in the rotation. More likely than not, he will be a part of that 2023 rotation. Glad you enjoyed the article. I had fun writing it!

  2. I think you have to assume, for the purpose of this piece, that Bellinger won’t be traded by that time.

    1. I do state in the article though, that despite Bellinger being under team control until 2023, that we are utilizing only players that are currently prospects. Hence the assumption, for the sake of this article, that Bellinger either gets traded, or completely falls apart and is no longer a viable Major League starter.

  3. Good article. This must be what forward thinking GM’s do. This could be a great team with incredibly low payroll and it seems to be the Friedman/Zaide blueprint.

    1. It could be great, but there are, as always with prospect projections, a lot of “ifs”. The nice thing is this lineup/rotation has a nice mix of players that are either close to being in the Majors and seem to have high ceilings, or are still a couple years away and also have nice ceilings/floors.

  4. Where is Urias? If you had Urias that rotation gets a lot stronger very quickly. I think they may keep Wood. He is still very young and has very little mileage on his arm. He is 27 now he would be in his prime in 5 years plus he is a ground ball pitcher and they tend to last longer than fireball guys. I think Stripling may make the rotation eventually. He does not have a lot of innings on his arm. Had surgery and is now recovered. He has a plus breaking pitch. I think the two years in the majors with Honeycutt will have developed him. It takes time to learn to pitch in the Majors. It is more mental. Rich Hill talks about it all the time. You must have 100% concentration and commitment on each pitch. That is one of the huge differences between the Bigs and the Farm. In the Majors many of the batters can hit your best pitch and destroy a mistake.
    I think Buehler and Seager will be around. Turner will retire in 5. Puig is 27 as is Taylor. They should still be around. Verdugo should be there.
    Great article and think piece. Thanks
    The incredibly good news is this team should compete for the next decade!!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Tmax. As the article title, and the article itself, stipulates this article is focusing on what our lineup and rotation would look like using only prospects. I would have included Urias gladly, but he exhausted his rookie status by two outs last year. So I couldn’t include. Obviously guys like Wood, Stripling, Seager, Puig, and Taylor are no longer prospect status as well. I also wanted to make sure that people know I recognize that obviously we won’t lose every player that is currently on our roster. Heck, Bellinger is under team control through 2023, but for the purpose of this article I assume the worst: either he completely fizzles out of relevance, and/or gets traded somehow. Overall this is a piece meant to spotlight who in our farm right now is lined up for the future at each position. Definitely won’t look anything like this, but it’s a fun thought experiment for those who love following our farm system. Glad you enjoyed it the article, cheers.

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