Before the season, I ranked the Dodgers' top 20 prospects coming in to 2012. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the list and see how they've fared so far this season.
20. Alex Santana, 3B
Alex Santana was the Dodgers' surprise second round pick in 2011. The son of Rafael Santana, Alex struggled mightily at the plate and in the field during his debut. However, scouts and coaches saw potential in the young prospect, which led me to note him in my top 20.
Given his lack of production in 2011, it was expected that he'd begin 2012 in rookie ball, which he did. He moved up from the Arizona League Dodgers to the Ogden Raptors and has gotten off to a decent start.
Thru 18 games, he's batting .297 with 8 doubles, a triple and a home run. However, a closer look at his numbers shows some continuing trends that need to be addressed.
After striking out 64 times in 50 games last year, he's already K'd 23 times in 18 contests in 2012. Not only that, but he's yet to draw a single walk. In addition to his lack of plate discipline, he's committed 8 errors in 16 games at third base.
While he's been lauded for his power potential, athleticism and work ethic, it's clear that Alex needs to work hard in order to improve these key areas and progress as a prospect.
19. Juan Rodriguez, RHP
Rodriguez was included in the deal that sent Trayvon Robinson to Boston (en route to Seattle) last summer. After being assigned to Great Lakes, Juan posted a 1.59 ERA in 12 games while striking out 20 in 17 innings.
This season, it's been a struggle for Rodriguez, who has an incredible fastball but has struggled to command the pitch. He made 8 appearances for High A Rancho Cucamonga but walked 10 batters in 9.1 innings, dampening the impact of his 2.89 ERA.
He missed some time and returned to full season ball in Great Lakes but has continued to miss the strike zone, walking 10 batters in 12.2 innings with the Loons. His ERA has increased as well, jumping up to 8.53.
While he has the stuff to close in the majors leagues, Juan will have to show that he can throw strikes before he can be considered more than a project.
18. Chris O'Brien, C
O'Brien, whose father played in the majors (a recurring theme), was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 draft out of Wichita State. After hitting well in rookie ball during his debut, the Dodgers aggressively assigned him to High A Rancho Cucamonga to begin 2012.
The results have been mixed. While he's hitting just .256, the switch-hitting 22 year old is hitting very well against lefties, posting a .357/.427/.514 line in 70 at bats.
On the other hand, he's OPS'ing just .571 against righties and .683 overall. His walk rate is just okay at 7.6% and his ISO is .114. Unless he improves against righties, there's not much he can do to climb the organizational ladder.
17. Pratt Maynard, C
Maynard was the first catcher the Dodgers drafted in 2011. The third round pick debuted with Ogden but didn't hit much in 2011. After a slow start in Great Lakes, he's beginning to turn things around.
Since the All Star Break, Pratt is batting .366 with an OPS of 1.011. However, the lefty-hitting backstop isn't hitting southpaws, posting a meager .535 against them. If he keeps this up, Maynard could replace O'Brien on the Quakes.
16. Ethan Martin, RHP
Martin has been an enigma for years. With an athletic build and top tier stuff, the right-hander has risen up the ladder with less than stellar results. 2012 was seen as a make or break year for the 23 year old. Luckily for him, it's been a make.
Over 17 starts, Ethan has posted a 3.14 ERA, while limiting opponents to a .210 batting average. While his walk rate is still high, he's shown stretches of good control.
He's striking out more than 8 batters per 9 innings and has surrendered just 5 homers in 100.1 innings. He's maintained his velocity and shows 4 pitches, so if his command becomes more consistent, he should be the next in line for a rotation spot with the big club.
15. James Baldwin, OF
Another pedigree prospect, JB3 has unlimited potential but has struggled to put it to good use. He teased evaluators with a strong first month in 2011 but, after a suspension, he couldn't get back into the swing of things.
Baldwin broke with Great Lakes this spring but has not made nearly enough contact. Thru 71 games, James has struck out 106 times and is batting just .206.
On the bright side, he's an excellent defender and has stolen 30 bases in 33 attempts. But if that bat doesn't come around, it's all for naught.
14. Blake Smith, OF
A second round pick in 2009, Smith was drafted out of Cal as a hitter when some teams thought he could pitch. For a few years, it looked like the Dodgers made the wrong decision, but now it seems like their patience and scouting is paying off.
In 84 games with Chattanooga, Smith is hitting .289/.376/.478. Most importantly, he's batting .301 against lefties after struggling with them last year.
Even though he's not on the 40 man roster, I wouldn't be surprised if the club gave him a shot in left field were no better options available.
13. Angelo Songco, 1B
Songco had a very successful 2011 campaign, clubbing 29 home runs with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. 2012 would be the year for him to prove he's for real, but a leg injury delayed his debut.
Gelo started with a rehab assignment in Great Lakes, though it didn't go that well. In 34 games, he batted just .175. He did, however, manage to club 6 homers and 5 doubles, as well as draw 14 walks. Now with Rancho, he's 3 for his first 8.
Unfortunately, another stint with the Quakes isn't going to help his development. He still needs to prove himself against advanced pitching. Hopefully he can join Chattanooga before the year is out.
12. Scott Van Slyke, 1B/OF
Van Slyke is now a familiar name to many Dodger fans, as he has spent time with the big club. With Albuquerque, Scott was hitting .326 with a .980 OPS, including 14 doubles and 10 home runs in 48 games.
However, that success hasn't translated to the major leagues, where he's batting only .167. He has hit a pair of home runs, though his plate discipline has gone to pot; he's drawn just 2 walks compared to 14 strikeouts.
Scott hasn't gotten a full opportunity to seize the left field job with the addition of Bobby Abreu, but I'm not confident that he'd be able to handle playing every day. There's still time, but I've cooled on SVS considerably since the beginning of the year.
11. Chris Withrow, RHP
Withrow, like Martin, is a former first rounder with top of the rotation stuff but lacks the numbers to back it up. Coming into the year, he was entering his 4th year in Double A. So far, he hasn't put it all together.
Chris began the season in the rotation, where he compiled a 5.60 ERA in 35.1 innings. He struck out 39 but also walked 21. This inability to command the strike zone has been his achilles heel.
Recently, he was moved to the bullpen, where the results have not improved. He's walked 4 in 6.2 innings and allowed 2 runs in a recent outing. He's proven to be a pretty good hitter, with a career .296 average in 90 plate appearances, but I think the Dodgers will wait to see if it comes together as a reliever before entertaining the possibility of a position change.
Up next, the top 10.
Dodgers Midseason Prospect Review: Part 1
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