One pet peeve of mine is to just blurt out statements and consider them facts without offering any support for an argument. My opinion is no better or worse than anyone else’s, but I try to support my comments with something other than what my heart says is true. That is all I ask of anyone. When you come out and say that a player is going to be a #1, well… just because, I am always going to question it. Everyone can have an opinion, but don’t expect them to all go without someone questioning your reasoning. I am not saying you are wrong. I am stating why I think I am right. Now tell me why you think you are right. That is what I am asking.
I have been a fan of MiLB since I first started following it with the inaugural draft in 1965 (day before my 13th birthday), and Rick Monday was the first player ever drafted.
My favorite all time MiLB team was the 1970 Spokane Indians. That team was managed by Tommy Lasorda. Future LAD players on that 1970’s team: Charlie Hough, Von Joshua, Bill Buckner, Bobby Valentine, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Geoff Zahn, Bill Russell, Doug Rau, Doyle Alexander, Tom Paciorek, Tom Hutton, Mike Strahler, Sandy Vance, Bart Shirley, John Purdin.
Suffice to say, I am an avid MiLB fan. With my son playing 9 years in MiLB, and a being a former season ticket holder to the Sacramento River Cats, I lost count of the MiLB games I have seen.
So, please do not confuse my skepticism on the ceiling of certain LAD MiLB players for non-support. The Dodgers have a great farm system and keep producing good MLB players, primarily for depth. Just not elite. I am sorry, but that is not arguable. The Dodgers have had 9 drafts under AF. Since then, the Dodgers have produced 3 All Stars that have participated in 4 ASG.
- Walker Buehler – 2 times (2019 and 2022)
- Tony Gonsolin – 1 time (2022)
- Will Smith – 1 time (2023)
Since 2015 (AF Era), 23 different Dodgers have made the ASG.
Under Paul DePodesta
- Free Agent – Kenley Jansen – 3 times
Under Ned Colletti:
- Clayton Kershaw – 6 times
- Corey Seager – 2 times
- Cody Bellinger – 2 times
- Joc Pederson – 1 time
- Ross Stripling – 1 time
- Zack Greinke – 1 time
- Hyun-jin Ryu – 1 time
- Justin Turner – 2 times
- Adrian Gonzalez – 1 time
Under Andrew Friedman
- Walker Buehler – 2 times
- Tony Gonsolin – 1 time
- Will Smith – 1 time
- Freddie Freeman – 2 times
- Max Muncy – Signed as MiLB player – 2 times
- Tyler Anderson – 1 time
- JD Martinez – 1 time
- Mookie Betts – 3 times
- Yasmani Grandal – 1 time
- Alex Wood – 1 time
- Matt Kemp – 1 time
- Trea Turner – 1 time
- Chris Taylor – 1 time
What that seems to indicate is that AF is in fact a good judge in talent. It is just not all that special with the MLB draft or the IFA market.
Besides the 5 drafted by Ned Colletti mentioned above, he also drafted Matt Kemp (2 times) and Dee Strange-Gordon (1 time) who were All Stars. Other FAs signed in the Colletti era and were All Stars were Yasiel Puig (1 time) and Takashi Saito (1 time). And he traded for Nomar Garciaparra (1 time), Rafael Furcal (1 time), and Andre Ethier (2 times) who were All Stars in the Colletti era.
AF is at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to the draft. While Colletti’s first picks were: 7, 20, 15, 36, 28, 16, 18, 18, and 22, AF’s were: 24, 20, 23, 30, 25, 29, 29, 40, and 36. Then again AF has a huge advantage with owner’s $$$.
The Dodgers draft good players with a measurable skill. They seem to look at power arms and power bats. Most (not all) of the drafted pitchers at the higher levels have a power fastball and hope they can teach spin. They also look for athletes. From Michael Busch to James Outman.
Michael Busch as a QB he led his HS to a state championship game. He was a hockey team captain, and two time All State. The Dodgers drafted him for his hit tool with projectable power, but no discernable position, and not very fleet of foot. IMO, Busch has the best bat, hit and power, than any other prospect in the organization. But he is best at 1B or DH. Right now he is blocked by Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy. I do think he will be a good MLB hitter, and probably could be a mid-order batter. They are going to need to create a position for Busch if they plan on keeping him. It will be an adventure with Busch defensively.
Outman’s football prowess has been well documented.
Can Busch coexist with Miguel Vargas in the same lineup? For many out there, yes. For me, no. Am I down on either of them individually? Absolutely not. But unless one of them is the DH, I cannot see two poor defensive players in the same lineup. My solution would be to include one of them in a trade. I personally believe that Michael Busch has the higher ceiling and he would be the one I would hold on to. But I trust AF with that decision. Whatever happens with Ohtani will clear a lot of this up. Or not.
BA has just published their 2024 top ten. They do not have one middle infield prospect in their top 10. MLB Pipeline has Jorbit Vivas as their #10. That could change before the season starts and the rankings are updated. There is not one publication that believes he will be anything more than a utility infielder. MLB Pipeline really considers 2B to be the only MLB position he can effective at. We have been advised that these scouts are not God, and they can be wrong. Of course they can, and they often are. But they are far more correct than incorrect. But the errors are mostly in the “not as good as projected” column. Those that are not rated highly do not usually make a big jump in their skills grades and FV (future value). You rarely see a 45 FV jump to 60, but there are 60 FV that do not make it.
So can Vivas grow into a solid 2B prospect? Yes. But IMO, and in the opinion of the publications, he will not be. But I do believe he will be a MLB player.
Gavin Stone, Nick Frasso, Kyle Hurt, River Ryan, and Landon Knack (top ten in MLB Pipeline) are all RHP prospects. The first four are 25 and Knack is 26. Not the age that you hope front line starters are rookies. Each of the first four RHP have plus pitches but questionable command and control. The command and control problems are mostly as the game goes longer. They cannot hold pitches through the lineup twice. Generally these pitchers with 2 quality pitches and a questionable tertiary selection find themselves in the bullpen where they can dominate for an inning or two or no more than once through the lineup. Is that a pitcher problem or an organizational issue with the tight pitch/inning controls?
Landon Knack does not have elite pitches, but he does have exceptional control (60 grade). For a MiLB pitcher, this is outstanding. He is not a big strikeout pitcher, and more of his outs are “air outs”. He is more apt to be a starter than a lock down high leverage reliever. He does need to watch his conditioning.
I like all of Ryan Pepiot, Emmet Sheehan, Nick Frasso, Kyle Hurt, and Gavin Stone, and in that order. Pepiot has shown more than any of the others that he needs to be considered a lock to be in the rotation. Sheehan has the overpowering fastball that makes him more of a setup/closer type pitcher. He can dominate (and has) with that pitch, but generally in short term occasions. His secondary and tertiary pitches are average at best, but if he can continue to develop them, he will be a lock down high leverage reliever. For now he will continue to develop as a starter.
Kyle Hurt’s conversion to the bullpen has already begun. He is projected to be a MLB reliever, even though he will continue to stretch out in MiLB. His swing and miss pitch is evident with his 14.87 K/9 metrics. That screams late inning high leverage reliever, even though MLB Pipeline thinks he is more of a multi inning reliever. But the organization has many of those, but none with this swing and miss capability.
Nick Frasso will be a good MLB pitcher. But he cannot go from being a mid-rotation starter ceiling to an Ace. I am not saying he is a mid-rotation starter. Every baseball publication says so. Are they all wrong? In many of your minds, yes. But I cannot remember one projected mid-rotation starter who has gone to be the Ace of a title contending team. He is 25 and does not seem to have the endurance to go more than 5.0 innings. How does that translate into being a #1? The answer cannot be because I say so. I am asking why for those out there who believe Frasso is an Ace in waiting.
Some of you think I dislike Nick Frasso because I am more in line with where the baseball publications place his ceiling. Not true at all. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A MID ROTATION PITCHER. EVERY TEAM NEEDS THEM. But he needs to prove he can go more than 5.0 IP before he can become a regular in the rotation. But that fastball of his is a money pitch. While every team needs a mid-rotation starter, every team needs a closer (or should have one), and Frasso could be a devastating closer. He has been mentioned in the same space as Eric Gagne. Both have/had high rated fastballs with a plus plus change. Gagne was a starter prospect as well.
Believe me or not, I also like Gavin Stone. But his money pitch is his change. Ryan Pepiot also has an outstanding change, but he also has a 70 fastball. Actually Pepiot’s change is rated higher than Stone’s (75 to 70), but their fastball is the big difference. Pepiot has a 70 fastball while Stone has a 55 fastball. It was Stone’s change that got clobbered in MLB. MLB hitters do not chase the earlier breaking change like MiLB hitters do. MLB hitters spit on his slider they knew would not be a strike and jumped on that change. Stone’s change needs to be consistent with getting it to have a late break. His change either breaks early and lands in the zone, or is a ball out of hand. MiLB hitters get fooled. MLB hitters do not. Same is true with Pepiot, except Pepiot can get batters out with his fastball. There is a big difference between a 70 and a 55 fastball.
I think that Stone, Frasso, Hurt, Ryan, and Knack are fairly graded. I just have a hard time believing the Dodgers should keep all of them. At the MLB level and all 4 affiliations’ levels (AAA, AA, A+, and A) the Dodgers have 64 RHP and 19 LHP (overwhelmingly mostly relievers). They have 6 LHSP and one of them is Ryan Yarbrough. Do they need all 64 RHP?
I prefer to package a couple of them for a more highly regarded MLB pitcher(s). I guess the other choice would be to continue to hold onto them and let them leave as MLB or more likely MiLB free agents, because they cannot have 10 starting pitchers in the rotation.
That does not count the number in either rookie league (ACL and DSL).
And for those who criticized me for believing the publications’ scouting reports as being accurate about Frasso and Stone, and should not be in the rotation, at least to start the season, I asked the question…if the Dodgers do as planned and acquire two top SP for the rotation, who gets bumped so Stone and Frasso can join the rotation? Buehler, Miller, Pepiot, or Sheehan? And why? Actually Roster Resource has penciled Ryan Yarbrough into the rotation as the lone lefty. IMO the Dodgers are looking for two starting pitchers to replace Yarbrough and Sheehan/Stone.
What if the Dodgers are successful in acquiring Dylan Cease and say Jordan Montgomery or Shōta Imanaga? Who out there would prefer Stone/Frasso over Cease, Montgomery or Imanaga? I know there are those of you who would say you prefer the rookies. We will just agree to disagree. One other consideration is that for most teams, the #5 is a often times a veteran who is an innings eater. I think that is why Lucas Giolito will be considered for that role. For the last five full seasons, his least number of IP was 161.2.
That being said, I do not blindly follow the publications. However where I disagree, much of the time it is because I am not as enamored with the higher ranking as the publications are. I have not been shy about saying I am not a huge fan of Maddux Bruns. I hope I am wrong, but I do not see him in the rotation. There is no question that he has a good arm, with three quality pitches. He has worked hard to improve his control. After walking more than 1 an inning a year ago, he brought it down to 6.2 per 9 innings. That is still not sustainable as a rotation pitcher. Can he actually get it down to below 4 per 9 innings?
As a follow up, this is almost exactly what BA’s Kyle Glaser said, even though BA has him at the #10 top prospect. I think his age helps here.