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Dodgers Prospects: Breaking Down the Quietly Great LA Farm System; Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, & More

The news is all good

This article first appeared onĀ Dodgers Nation.

For a team that has graduated as many prospects as the Dodgers have over the last season, this may come as a shock to some. The farm is still good. And soon enough the rest of baseball will fully appreciate it. While we wait for everyone else to catch up, one group of prospects evaluators is already looking ahead.

And for a prospect hugger like me, this is nearly a dream come true.

This offseason, Baseball America has been doing a podcast dedicated to each team and the state of their farm system. Kyle Glaser and JJ Cooper just released their podcast episode dedicated to the Dodgers farm system.

This article will look at some of the highlights of the podcast, and there were a lot of them. I’ll use direct quotes or summations for what Glaser and Copper spoke about.

State Of The Farm System

  • “Cycleless” – most teams go thru cycles
  • “Insanely deep” where people like Lux, Muncy, Pederson, and Bellinger could have a mediocre season and it does not matter.
  • “Their best days are still ahead of them”
  • Currently, they don’t have that big prospect like Wander Franco because they’ve graduated players like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Walker Buehler.
  • There were 6 closely matched candidates to be the number 1 prospect.
  • “Depth of premium talent” despite having mostly lower draft picks.

My Thoughts

I think a lot of us that closely follow the Dodgers’ farm system echo a lot of the same thoughts spoken above. However, to hear known experts like Kyle Glaser and JJ Cooper just gushing over the Dodgers was quite reassuring.

Player Highlights

  1. Keibert Ruiz – projects as a plus hitter while staying at catcher. The Dodgers have made some adjustments to his swing for him to drive the ball more. He’s still way ahead of the curve and just waiting for an opportunity.
  2. Josiah Gray – possible mid-rotation starter. He is a natural pick to help them in 2021. “Impressively polished” considering he just converted to pitching in college.
  3. Michael Busch – best hitter in the instructional league. So dynamic. Could be 2B, DH, or the new Max Muncy at 1B or 2B.
  4. Kody Hoese – “was incredible at the alternate site” but was tired and mediocre in the instructional league. Dodger insiders are very high on him while other scouts are a bit down on him. Should be ready to take over third base in two years.
  5. Bobby Miller – “animal, monster, glowing reviews”. Could be the number 1 prospect for the Dodgers next year.
  6. Diego Cartaya – Dodger high-ranking officials said he could be the Dodgers’ number 1 prospect based on upside.
  7. Edwin Rios – he’s already been in the “dog pile”. NOTE: Rios has already exceeded rookie limits in 2020 so I don’t understand why Baseball America still lists him.
  8. Ryan Pepiot – “absolute monster” at summer camp and the best pitcher at the alternate site.
  9. Miguel Vargas – given his age in 2019, if he were drafted out of high school, instead of being an international signing, his performance that year would have landed him in the top 100 prospects.
  10. Andy Pages – could be a top 100 prospect soon.
  11. Zach McKinstry – outside the top 10 and it was difficult to leave him out. He was compared to Tommy Edman of the Cardinals and Jake Cronenworth of the Padres. McKinstry consistently hits everything, uses the whole field, and is adding power. Utility man will be his initial position on the Dodgers and he plays a good shortstop and second base. They had him below Pepiot, Vargas, and Pages because they believe those three could be great. The question about Vargas becomes what position does he play. He’s played both first and third base but he is there for his advanced hitting.

My Thoughts

Glaser got me fired up about McKinstry so I am excited to see him as the replacement for Enrique Hernandez. I’ve been able to see both Gray and Vargas play up close. Gray should debut sometime in 2021 and he will fit right in. He is mature beyond his years. When I saw Vargas play he was only 19 years old. What I saw was a young man still getting physically stronger. There were plenty of fly outs near the warning track but I expect that to change. As a hitter, he was very advanced.

Related: 5 Possible Prospect Surprises

Other Highlights From Glaser and Cooper

  • Dodgers player development is easily number one in all of baseball.
  • They don’t pick in the first half of the draft and it has not slowed them down. Picking in the top 5 verses where the Dodgers usually pick is a huge difference yet they continue to produce excellent players
  • Unlike teams like the Padres, they don’t fall off the cliff after just a few prospects. The drop off isn’t until after the 38th player. Most teams only have 15-20 legitimate prospects. Jerming Rosario, who they consider outside the top 30 would be a top 10 prospect in bottom-tier systems and 15-20 in middle-tier systems.
  • Danger point – too many prospects that will need a spot. There aren’t many holes so trading a higher caliber prospect could help get a better bullpen arm. They definitely have the prospect capital to fill gaps as needed now or during the season.
  • “They develop and keep their own”.
  • “Still the best team in Major League Baseball” “All-time great team” All the pieces are in place to possibly with more championships in the next few years.
  • They don’t think the championship window. Many players are 26 or under. They are in excellent shape from top to bottom and should be one of the best teams in baseball for the next few years. Between the talent and the financial resources, they should not slow down any time soon.
  • More than once they spoke of the need to bring back Justin Turner.

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend listening to the podcast yourself. To hear the enthusiasm for the Dodgers and their future is re-assuring. The Dodgers do have a very deep system and their player development team is the best in baseball. Based on what we’ve seen in recent drafts, the LA scouts must be excellent also. Having money isn’t just about payroll, but how a team uses it. The Dodgers have re-investing a lot of money into their international presence and minor league player development. The results speak for themselves.

The future remains bright in Los Angeles.

Related: Josiah Gray Debut Prediction

What do you think?

Written by Tim Rogers

With @dodgersnation. Also known at @sddodger on Twitter and Instagram.

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