- Do the Dodgers Start Extending Their Young Stars
- Who’s The Next Prospect(s) Up?
- Who’s The Closer?
- Who Do We Resign?
- Who Do We Buy/Trade For?
The Dodgers have as many as 7 roster spots opening up this offseason depending on free agency. And with every year, injuries will test every teams’ organization depth.
The Dodgers were a top 3 system before the 2020 season, but saw several prospects graduate as they shined in the majors. They were demoted to 11th in the MLB’s midseason rankings, but still have a lot of A level talent knocking on the door.
We have 4 prospects we think are locks for promotions to the Show next year, and a few long shot calls on possible contributors.
Josiah Gray – RHP (Dodger’s 1st, MLB 62nd)
What was a salary dump swamp bonus between the Dodgers and the Reds has turned into a piece of Mookie Betts and the current Top Prospect, Gray. He’s a converted shortstop who has only been pitching full time for 3 years.
He last played in AA Tulsa in 2019 after starting the year in Single A. In his 182 career Innings So far he has an ERA of 2.37, a WHIP of 0.96, and 206 strikeouts against 48 walks.
He uses the same repertoire as Kershaw with a fastball, slider, and curveball. And he even has a changeup he never uses like Clayton. His fastball is his best pitch, topping out at 97 MPH with movement. He follows that up with a plus slider, and just added the curveball to change speeds even more. His changeup doesn’t really change up all that much and is basically a slower fastball right now.
Gray is long term a starter, and possibly an ace, but next year we see a good chance of him being utilized out of the bullpen. If he starts, the Dodgers are dealing with a lot off injuries.
Keibert Ruiz – C (Dodger’s 2nd, MLB 68th)
Dodger fans had a brief introduction to, 22 year old, Keibert Ruiz this last year. He did not disappoint.
The switch hitter launched a bomb for his first hit. And much like former Dodger Yasmani Grandal, his power is on the left. He only hit 29 bombs (27 from the left) in 5 minor league seasons.
And while the Dodgers initially drafted him for his defensive ability, the young stud has blossomed at the plate.
18 of his 29 homers came over the last two pro seasons (2018 and ’19) and we haven’t seen what he can really do in his 20’s yet. So his career minor league slash line of .299/.351/.420 begins to look better than a .771 OPS.
He’s had at least 20 doubles in every full season and it’s not unreasonable to think close to half of those turn into homers as he fills out. So that .420 slugging goes up closer to .500 and Ruiz could be a .300/.400/.500 threat at his ceiling.
Will Smith is obviously the Dodger’s starter for now and Barnes had a huge comeback season. But those two are going to be 26 and 32 next season. Ruiz could be a mainstay for a decade if he develops as they hope. And if any Dodger were to win Rookie of the Year in 2021, he’s the front runner.
DJ Peters – OF (Dodger’s 11th)
Dodger fans have long been calling for the release of DJ Peters from the minors, but there has been a constant log jam in front of him named Joc Pederson. But Pederson is finally a free agent and likely destined for another team giving Peters his long awaited chance.
Peters is a 6’6″, 225 pound behemoth of a 24 year old. In his first 455 games he has 92 home runs, 96 doubles, and 13 triples. His career slash line is .269/.363/.501. He’s a perfect fit for this Dodger teams’ method of walk and slug. And seems to be the perfect Joc replacement who batted .298/.401/.515 in his minor league career.
Barring any offseason additions or trades, he seems to be a lock for the 4th outfield roster spot. And given Pollock’s injury history, he’s a good backup plan.
Zach McKinstry – INF/OF (Dodger’s 18th)
Zach McKinstry came out of no where for Dodger fans this last spring training slashing .414/.452/.862 for an OPS of 1.314. If he had the ABs to qualify, it would’ve lead all of MLB. But that success did not come quick or easy.
After OPSing .655 in his first two minor league seasons, McKinstry found another level with a new approach at the plate. He earned two promotions slashing .282/.403/.458 throughout 2018.
He followed that up by slashing .279/.352/.455 in AA to earn the promotion to a loaded AAA OKC squad. He finished 2019 by slashing .382/.421/.753 in AAA and was praised as the second best player behind Lux.
And after seeing a couple of ABs this year, we assume McKinstry will take on a much bigger role next year. With the likely departure of Kiké Hernandez, McKinstry has a chance to become the left handed version of him for this team. He plays just about every position and now may be the 2nd left handed outfield option for the Dodgers.
It’s not easy to play every position, especially as elite as Kiké did, but McKinstry can still do it well enough considering his offensive capabilities.
It’s also worth noting his arm is his greatest strength according to MLB Scouting Reports and that 3rd base will most likely be up for grabs this next year. Zach turns the prime age of 26 next season. Either way, it seems that McKinstry has a path to playing time next year.
Clayton Beeter – RHP (Dodger’s 8th)
He was the Dodger’s third pick of the shortened 2020 draft behind Bobby Miller and Landon Knack. Yet, Beeter may be much closer to his Dodger debut than his fellow draftee. Before the 2020 season started, the Dodger’s front office said if any of the draftees had a chance of playing for the team in a year without a minor league season, it was Beeeter.
He’s a fresh 22, and his 3 primary pitches all got 60 grades (out of 80) from the scouts. He stands 6’2″ and already weighs a solid 220 pounds.
But because his 3 pitches are all great, but none are elite, he’ll likely remain a starter. And it’s unlikely the Dodgers need to test their starting depth this far, but if they have to, Beeter may be ready without a full season under his belt.
Landon Knack – RHP (Dodger’s 15th)
As we mentioned, Knack was the Dodger’s second pick this last draft. And he reminds us a lot of Walker Buehler in his history. Mainly in that freak injuries have cost him years of college baseball, but when healthy pitches well.
He tore his labrum diving into a bag in his senior year of high school. And he dislocated his should diving into a bag when he returned in 2017 in junior college. When he came back he went 13-0 and hit 11 homers. He transferred to East Tennessee State in 2019, and became something else in 2020 when he put on more weight.
Knack is now 6’2″, 220 pounds, and was having the season of a lifetime before it was cut short by covid. He was 4-0, had a 1.08 ERA, 51 strikeouts in 25 innings, and all while throwing only one walk.
Again, he is more likely a starter, but his pitching combination could work well replacing Baez in the bullpen if needed.
Gerardo Carrillo – RHP (Dodger’s 16th)
Carrillo was signed all the way back in 2016 as an 18 year old and has developed nicely minus a couple bumps in the road. But now Carrillo is 22 and weighs a much more solid 179 lbs (he was 154) to compliment his 5’10”.
But that small body has packed a lot of punch. He touches triple digits with his fastball now to go with both vertical and horizontal movement. He changes speed with a slider and a curve that are considered comparable by the scouts. He can just struggle to command his electric stuff. Apparently he has the most feel for his curve.
Still, with the losses to the Dodger pen this offseason, Carrillo may have the best shot of these players to play considering he’s made for the pen.
Kody Hoese – 3B (Dodger’s 3rd)
Finally, we have the Dodgers 1st round pick of 2019 and 3rd ranked prospect, 3rd baseman, Kody Hoese. He’s a big 6’4″, 200 pounds at 23 years old. Depending on how the Dodgers fill the Justin Turner hole, Hoese could easily make a Corey Seager type debut late next season.
Sadly, he only has about 150 at bats under his belt. But he showed promise after dominating the Rookie league with a .357/.456/.643 line. He slowed down a lot at A ball slashing a meager .264/.330/.385. Still he didn’t strike out much at about a 15% clip. (Justin Turner had a 14.9% K rate in 2020).
It could’ve been bad luck, or weak contact, we don’t really know much about the specific stats. But it’s fair to assume he has good bat to ball skills at least and the scouts see him at least average in everything but running. And they still say he moves well and is capable at 3rd.
He may make a spring training debut but it seems almost impossible for him to make the roster quite yet. But if his 2021 goes well, and the Dodgers are juggling 3rd base all year, there’s no doubt that Hoese is the future. (Unless the Dodgers trade for Arenado???)
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