The Dodgers are said to be big players for Baltimore’s Manny Machado but this system isn’t as deep as it used to be due to promotions, trades, etc. A couple of so-so drafts in a row have not helped, either.
1. Alex Verdugo | OF | AAA —> With most organizations, Verdugo would be a starting outfielder — and would have been since the beginning of the year. With the Dodgers, though, he’s a handy player to have at triple-A to fill in for injuries. He’s an extremely advanced hitter for his age, as witnessed by his .352 average, and he rarely gives away an at-bat. The biggest knock on him is the modest power output (which is more a result of his all-fields approach than a lack of strength).
2. Keibert Ruiz | C | AA —> I’ve been leading the bandwagon on Ruiz for a couple of years now but, as he finally starts to get the attention he deserves, he’s having a down year with the bat. Now to be fair, he’s 19 and playing in double-A. Even with being a little overmatched he’s only struck out 20 times in 251 at-bats. Like Verdugo above, this switch-hitter has an uncanny knack for making contact, which can sometimes work against him if he doesn’t wait for a good pitch to hit (as he’s learning right now). Defensively, he needs some polish but should be able to stick behind the plate.
3. Mitchell White | RHP | AA —> White missed all of April and wasn’t right in May when he posted a 9.69 ERA in five starts. He’s been much better during the summer, although he’s been struggling with his command and has allowed too many hits. When he’s right, White can work in the mid-90s with his heat and showcases a nasty breaking ball. With improved command and a better changeup, he could have a strong future.
4. Yusniel Diaz | OF | AA —> When Yasiel Puig finally departs LA, another Cuban may replace him. Just 21, Diaz is having a strong showing in double-A. Like Verdugo, he has an advanced approach for his age and controls the strike zone extremely well (BB-K of 41-39). Unlike his peer, he produces more in-game pop and could eventually hit 20+ homers in a full big league season. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions.
5. Will Smith | C | AA —> The Dodgers face a bright future behind the plate if they hold onto both Ruiz and Smith (who might be in the offer for Manny Machado). Smith is a plus defender who has shown improved offence in 2018. His power output has continued to develop and he has 17 long balls in his first 58 games of the year. He’s also hitting for an improved average. He could be ready for The Show by mid-2019.
6. Dennis Santana | RHP | AAA —> A converted light-hitting shortstop, Santana has made impressive strides on the mound in a short period time. And while most conversion projects end up in the ‘pen, this right-hander looks like he’ll stick in the rotation if he can conquer a change-of-pace offering. Santana, 22, has battled some minor injuries in 2018 but he’s overpowered minor league hitters when healthy and has struck out 65 batters in 49.2 innings.
7. Gavin Lux | IF | A+ —> Lux is zooming up in the prospect ratings due to a strong offensive season but I’m not sold on the performance. He’s been hitting well in the offence-boosting California League after a modest 2017 in the Midwest League (although he did finish strong). I see a modest offensive performer but not a star. And he’ll likely move from shortstop over to second or third base, further muting his value.
8. Dustin May | RHP | A+ —> Most tall pitchers struggle with control early in their careers but May is an exception. He’s allowed just 14 walks in 78. 2innings. He can also miss bats and induces a high number of ground-ball outs. May, 20, isn’t overpowering and works mostly in the low-90s. He has the ceiling of a No. 3/4 stater.
9. Jeren Kendall | OF | A —> It’s rare for a college hitter with question marks around his hit tool to go in the first round of the draft — but Kendall did just that due to his strong athleticism, speed and defensive skills. The concerns around his offence has been well founded, though, and he’s struck out 107 times in 281 at-bats so far in 2018 — and that’s in the California League, which aids hitters. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt for now, though, given his other tools and the Dodgers’ track record for developing prospects.
10. Tony Gonsolin | RHP | AA —> An impressive pop-up guy in 2018, Gonsolin spent his college career as a two-way player but has really taken off since giving up hitting. He can throw in the upper 90s and is showing the potential for four average-or-better offerings. He had no issues with high-A ball — striking out 106 hitters in 83.2 innings — and was recently promoted to double-A.
Caleb Ferguson | LHP | AAA —> Ferguson isn’t flashy or overpowering but he throws strikes and has the makings of three average-or-better offerings. He also does a nice job of keeping the ball in the yard despite an average ground-ball rate. He’s already shown the ability to get big league hitters out and he has the frame to develop into an innings-eater.
Ronny Brito | SS | R —> Signed for $2 million back in 2015, it’s taken Brito some time to adjust to pro ball but he’s looking much improved this year with the bat. He’s also showing more pop. With that said, he’s also playing in rookie ball for a third straight year. At worst, he shows enough defensive skill to develop into a big league back-up at shortstop.
Yadier Alvarez | RHP | AA —> Alvarez has shown the ability to hit triple digits in the past but he’s battle through some injuries and he’s completely lost the ability to throw strikes this year (which has never been a strong suit). At this point he’s looking more and more like a future reliever.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.