How The Dodgers Farm System Is Looking After Their World Series Win

Photo Credit: Baseball America 

With the Dodgers winning it all in 2020, most of their breakout stars came from within their system, showcasing the talented development of their homegrown talent. The Dodgers system is mostly made up through the draft and international signings with more stars on the way to help them win another title possibly.

Dodger fans should feel confident in their team’s quest for another World Series title. With their farm system being so deep and well developed, the team is like a factory pumping out superstar after superstar. Dustin May, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Corey Seager, Will Smith, Joc Pederson, and Julio Urias are a few homegrown talents. The Dodgers model of drafting and developing players should be one that teams look to replicate. Having young, controllable players are a huge benefit to any team that is looking for sustained success. With the flood of young talent the Dodgers have, it was easy for them to make the big move and land Red Sox star Mookie Betts and remain within the top 15 in the league’s farm systems.

Their top two prospects are right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray, who ranks number 62 on the top 100 prospects, and catcher Keibert Ruiz ranked 68 on the top 100 prospects. Ruiz has already made his presence known in the Major Leagues with a first at-bat home run to help welcome him to the big leagues as he slashed a modest .250/.250/.625 in the two games that he did play for the Dodgers. Keep in mind that the Dodgers already had Austin Barnes and Will Smith on their roster and were more established in their roles. However, with more development and understanding of how to manage the pitching staff, Ruiz could force the Dodgers to decide on him getting more playing time. Josiah Gray was an absolute steal for the Dodgers when they traded for him in the Puig/Kemp deal as he jumped to number one in the Dodgers farm system. He wasn’t able to make his big league debut in 2020 as Ruiz did. However, it won’t be long till Dodgers fans get to see on the mound. According to mlb.com, Gray has a fastball that sits at 60 on the 20-80 grading scale, which is plus average and overall sits at a 55 overall with good command of his pitches, which could make him a solid number 3 starter in their rotation.

Strengths

The Dodgers’ main strengths of their farm system come from their infield, and their pitching as most of their top 30 prospects are either infielders or pitchers. Three of their top ten prospects are infielders, including third basemen Kody Hoese, second basemen Michael Busch, and shortstop/second basemen Jacob Amaya. All three are projected to hit the Majors in 2022, with Hoese being the readiest in the depth chart. He slashed .299/.380/.483 with 5 home runs and 29 RBIs in 2019. He’s projected to stay at third base or even shift to first if needed; however, the main thing for him is his power and contact, which should translate to the big league level. The Dodgers still have some time to determine what his future with the team is going to be. However, with Justin Turner, a free agent, and rumors around a Nolan Arenado trade, Hoese might be having to fight for playing time at third or first.

From the pitching side of things, the Dodgers have 3 pitchers in their top 10, excluding Josiah Gray, including right-handed pitchers Bobby Miller, Clayton Beeter, and Mitch White, who has already seen some time in the big leagues. Miller is the best out of the three in terms of the depth chart coming in at 7 in their top 10. He’s only one year removed from college ball, where he pitched a shortened season due to the pandemic shutdown at Louisville. He still pitched in four games, all in which he started, and had an ERA of 2.31 in 23.1 innings of work with 34 strikeouts. His fastball actually ranks slightly higher than Gray’s, which is a huge advantage for generating swings and misses. He also has an above-average slider that he can also throw to mix up batters. If he can improve his control, which is below average right now, he can fill out to be either a starter or reliever.

Weaknesses

There aren’t any major weaknesses within a loaded farm system like the Dodgers have in place as they can easily orchestrate another big move for a key player and still have a mostly intact system. The Dodgers have so much raw talent that they can further develop that if certain players go down from injury or something unexpected happens, then they can quickly fill in a young player into a role and be confident that they can manage. If we want to get nitpicky, the only thing the Dodgers lack is a sure first baseman in their system, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s already been stated that Kody Hoese could make the transition to first if needed, and they even have Micheal Busch, who has played first base, although the Dodgers would feel more comfortable if he stayed at second.

They have 14 right-handed pitchers in their top 30, which is clearly impressive if they can all develop right in either the rotation down the line or in the bullpen. The absolute worst-case scenario for the team is if only 2 or 3 of those 14 pitchers find their way to the big leagues and the rest don’t pan out, but the way the Dodgers have been handling their pitchers shouldn’t cause for concern at all. Having depth anywhere can be a valuable asset for a team. The Dodgers made it in their pitching department, with loads of arms that could be readily available within the next 3 years should nothing major happen to them. The Dodgers will certainly have moves to make with some of their key pieces and decide to keep, but with such a vast farm system, they can handle key players leaving without feeling such a major blow to their team overall.

Expectations for 2021

There is so much to like about this Dodgers farm system from top to bottom and while they’re not in the top 10 in farm systems, being just one out of it is huge for a team that has already secured a championship. There is no doubt that Josiah Gray is the next top prospect to come out of the Dodgers system. Even if he didn’t start with the team, the Dodgers development made sure that he was comfortable with the transition as he hasn’t slowed down. We will have to wait and see how the Dodgers handle him once he gets the call up as he’s projected to fit into the 3 spots in the rotation, but with the pitching depth the Dodgers have, they can ease him into the big leagues should they go that route. Overall, the Dodgers farm system’s expectation should be to keep consistent progress with all their prospects as they keep pumping them out like a factory. Should the right price come along for a star addition to either their lineup or rotation, then they should be able to pull it off and remain a powerhouse within the system rankings.

Jacob Cisneros is a writer for Dodgers-LowDown. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @_JacobCisneros.