Top 15 Prospects
1. Scott Elbert LHRP/LHSP Age: 23 MLL: AA
In my mind he is a starter, potentially a very good number two starter to be exact, but it looks like Elbert will instead move into the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2009. This move – assuming he stays in the bullpen, and is done as a starter – really hurts his upside. Elbert throws a plus fastball between 92 and 96 mph – he was throwing it around 90 in 2008 following his injury, but it’s a plus fastball – he also throws a plus slider in the mid 80s with late break. Elbert missed the first half of the 2008 season following shoulder surgery – relatively minor – he returned to the AA bullpen in June, and excelled there pitching forty-one innings in relief with a 2.40 ERA, and striking out forty-six batters. He also held opposing batters to a .157 batting average. Elbert is number one of my list because [He has been a favorite of mine] I still believe he has the more upside, as a starter, than the following two pitchers – he has been compared to both and Billy Wagner. Elbert could be a number two starter – he has the stuff for it – and would form a terrific young rotation with , and . However, it is looking like Elbert will be a reliever, with a future in the late innings of games.
2. Ethan Martin RHSP Age: 19 MLL: R
The Dodgers’ first round draft pick in 2008; Martin received attention as both a pitcher, and third basemen. Martin throws his fastball in the low-mid 90s; he also throws a power curveball between 78 and 82 mph which could be plus in the future, and another potential plus pitch in his splitter which he throws in the low 80s. Martin did not pitch during the 2008 season, after being drafted in June. Martin has the stuff to be a number two starter, but I cannot know for sure before he throws a pro pitch.
3. Ivan DeJesus SS Age: 21 MLL: AA
An absolutely terrific hitter; DeJesus hit .324, with a .419 OBP in AA last season. He does not hit for much power; hitting seven homers in 2008 while only 20% of his hits went for extra bases. DeJesus does however, have good plate patience recording a K:BB of just over 1:1 – with 76 walks and only 81 strikeouts. DeJesus has good range and great instincts defensively but, manages to rack up errors – mostly throwing related -, making him only average defensively at short, or second base. DeJesus has average to above-average speed, again good instincts allowed him to steal sixteen bases in 2008. Many have questioned his work ethic, especially after seeing him in the AFL this past fall, so that may be something to keep an eye on. However, I see no reason why DeJesus cannot become a well above average offensive minded middle infielder – with a high OBP, but limited power.
4. James McDonald RHSP Age: 24 MLL: AAA/AA
McDonald put up outstanding numbers in 2008; pitching in 141 innings, and striking out 141 batters and tallying a 3.26 ERA. McDonald throws his fastball in the low 90s – mid 90s as a reliever -, and also throws an average changeup, his out pitch is a big 12-6 curveball, which is his only plus pitch. McDonald makes up for his average – probably a little bit better than average – stuff with excellent command of all three pitches. At this point McDonald is a rock solid number four starter, and he certainly has the potential to be a number three.
5. Andrew Lambo 1B/OF Age: 20 MLL: AA/A-
Lambo put good numbers in 2008, while reaching double A at the age of twenty. He hit .295, with a .351 OBP. Lambo also hit 19 homers, and 37% of his hits were of the XBH variety – compiling a .482 SLG%. Despite those solid offensive numbers, Lambo still needs to work on his plate discipline as his K:BB was just under 3:1 – luckily he’s young, and has plenty of time to shore that up. Lambo has a very high ceiling, and is already showing success at higher levels of the minors despite his age but, because of the high K rate, there is a chance he could become a bust. Lambo is also only average, at best, defensively, ideally he could become an average left fielder [defensively], with an above-average bat.
6. Josh Lindblom RHSP Age: 21 MLL: AA/A-
A power closer in college; the Dodgers turned Lindblom into a starter after drafting him in June. He had an ERA of 2.12 in 34 innings, while striking out 37 batters, and holding opponents to a .157 BA. Lindblom has a great repertoire of pitches; throwing a plus mid-low 90s fastball, slider, and splitter – the latter two being major league average. He will likely start 2009 in AA, and if Lindblom can put up numbers anywhere near those 2008 numbers he could be looking at an ETA of 2010. If he continues to dominate the minors he could be a number two starter but, I see him more as a number three or number four starter instead. I need to see his numbers over the course of a whole season before I move him ahead of any of the top five guys.
7. Chris Withrow RHP Age: 19 MLL: A+
Can someone say injury prone? Luckily its more incident related injuries – cut his hand on a snorkel? Withrow pitched only four innings late in the 2008 season. I still believe Withrow has the stuff to be a starter in the majors, however, he throws a plus fastball which is thrown in the low 90s – regularly – but, has been clocked as high as 98 (towards the end of 2007). He also throws a plus curveball, and developing changeup. He is only 19, so he has plenty of time to make up for the season he lost injured, and it seems as though he will start 2009 in high A. I like his chances of making the majors at some point as a starter anywhere between the third, and fifth rotation spots… he could also become an effective reliever, its too early in his career to get a good grasp of his future.
8. Anthony Delmonico 2B Age: 21 MLL: R
Maybe 141 Rookie League at bats should be taken with a grain of salt but, you have to like 11 homeruns in those 141 at bats. The rest of Delmonico’s hitting line was this: .340/.443/.716/1.159 (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS). The is especially impressive. Extra base hits (XBH) also accounted for 65% of Delmonico’s hits. I would like to see Delmonico’s numbers over a full season of A ball but, as of right now, I really like his potential as a second basemen with well above average hitting ability, especially power.
9.OF Age: 23 MLL: AAA
Paul does not have the highest of upsides but, I like his consistency, and I like his average-high floor – what you see from Paul today, is what you are going to get in the majors. All of Paul’s tools are about major league average, his hitting tools are maybe a little below, but his arm is definitely above average. Paul put up good numbers in AAA in 2008; finishing the season with a .378 OBP, and hitting for an OPS of .841. His XBH% was 30%, and he put up a K to walk ratio of over 2:1 despite the high OBP. Maybe Paul could be an average centerfielder in the big leagues but, he is more likely to play as a platoon outfielder, or good .
10. Chin Lung Hu SS Age: 24 MLL: AAA
Most people are saying he’s graduated to the majors but, I am choosing to keep him on my prospects list. He’s number 10, I don’t really like him, and so, I have nothing to say about him.
11. Victor Garate LHSP Age: 24 MLL: A
Garate’s 2008 numbers are stunning; pitching 116 innings with an ERA of 2.79, and striking out 150 batters. He is old for A but, those numbers look like that of a shut down middle-late inning reliever in the majors. [I do not know what his repertoire of pitches includes.]
12. Austin Gallagher 3B Age: 20 MLL: A+
Gallagher put up a good stat line in high A, in 2008: .293/.349/.456/.805. He has about average power, despite hitting only 5 HRs – in 303 at bats -, 43% of Gallagher’s hits went for extra bases. Gallagher also only walked 29 times, his K to walk ratio was 2:1 in 2008 but, due to his age, and minor league level, I am not worried about his plate discipline – it should be major league average once he sees more at bats. Gallagher is a bit below average defensively, with an average arm, and well below average speed, which may make him move off of third base – most likely to first, possibly left -, which would significantly hurt his value, as I do not believe his bat can play at first everyday. If Gallagher does stay at third he may be able to become an average starting third basemen, especially if the plate discipline develops, and he ends up with a little above average power.
13. Josh Bell 3B Age: 22 MLL: A+
Bell has plus power, with average defensive ability, and below average speed. Bell hit .273, with a .373 OBP, and .827 OPS, he also hit 6 homers in only 187 at bats. Also, 39% of his hits went for extra bases. He profiles as a little under average as an everyday third basemen – due to only so, so ability to make contact with the ball – but, he could make it as a backup at third, first, and the corner outfield spots.
14. Cole St. Clair LHRP Age: 22 MLL: R
Had a nice debut, Cole pitched in 17 innings striking out 22 batters. Cole throws his fastball in the 88-91 range with plenty of movement. He also throws a decent curveball for strikes. I do not know what to make of him but, he definitely has the stuff to be a top prospect.
15. Matthew Wallach C Age: 22 MLL: R
Had to take a flier, I chose Wallach. I like his .571 SLG%, and .927 OPS. He also had 10 homers in 184 at bats, and 58% of his hits went for extra bases. His K to BB ratio was 3:1 and was pretty old for the rookie league at 22. Still, I like the power, and because he’s a catcher he is someone to keep an eye on moving forward.
Strengths: The first six players on this list are all stellar prospects. Their top four pitchers are especially impressive, and a possible future rotation including Billingsley, , McDonald, Lindblom, Ethan Martin, maybe even Scott Elbert.
Weaknesses: They do not have great depth, and they also lack a true 5 star guy, now that Kershaw has graduated to the majors.
Next Up: The Padres