Myworld struggled to find ten quality players to make a top ten. Not an impressive lot. These are prospects based on their production while in the Texas League. A number of Dodger pitchers filter this list.
1. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) - Walker was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2015. Tommy John surgery prevented him from playing in 2015 and in 2016 he was limited to five regular season innings and two playoff starts that also was five innings. The Dodgers have been aggressive with him this year, starting him in High A ball where it only took five starts and a 1.10 ERA to get him promoted to AA. It took him 11 AA starts with a 3.49 ERA to get him promoted to AAA. Combined opponents are hitting only .190 against him with 112 whiffs in 80 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised to see the Dodgers limit his innings, shutting him down after August to protect his arm. As is, his starts have only averaged four innings per start, limiting his ability to produce victories. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a combination curve/slider and a change that he throws for strikes. He has a good shot of making the Dodgers rotation sometime next year.
2. Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) - Jack was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2014. He started the season in AA and was almost unhittable in his 10 starts, stitching together a 1.42 ERA. That resulted in his promotion to AAA where he has not been as dominant (3.21 ERA) but he has still been effective. Despite his 6′4″ frame he is not overpowering, hitting the low 90s with his fastball with a plus changeup that gives the fastball the appearance of greater velocity. He also has little difficulty throwing strikes, though this has resulted in a greater homerun stroke by the AAA opposition. With continued success expect a September promotion by the Cardinals.
3. Magneruris Sierra CF (Cardinals) - This Dominican was a bargain sign when he inked his $105,000 bonus in 2012. Defense in centerfield and speed will be his calling card. There is very little power in his bat but he does have the ability to hit over .300. His speed can turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He started this year in High A, was quickly promoted to AA and after hitting .286 with 13 stolen bases in 61 games he was promoted to the major league club. In the majors he is hitting .365 with no extra base hits in 13 games. If he is not to become a fourth outfielder he needs an OBA of .330 or better, something he was able to accomplish in the minor leagues except for this year.
4. Yohander Mendez LHP (Rangers) - Yohander was signed out of Venezuela in 2011 for $1.5 million. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching two games of relief for the Rangers but showing great difficulty retiring hitters. Despite his dominance at AAA last year the Rangers have placed him in AA again where he has started 20 games with a 3.86 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .230 rate. The fastball can reach the mid-90s but mostly sits in the low 90s, good enough velocity for a lefthander. His change may be his best pitch but he lacks a third pitch which could keep him in a bullpen role. Expect a September promotion this year.
5. J.D. Davis 3B (Astros) - J.D. was a third round pick in 2014. His two biggest tools are a rocket arm and the ability to hit for power. Last year he hit 23 homeruns in AA. With Colin Moran in AAA J.D. repeated AA and slugged 21 homeruns in just 87 games, still tops in the Texas League. That led to a promotion to AAA after Moran was promoted to the Astros where J.D. added five dingers in 16 games. The 26 homeruns match his career high he set in 2015. With Moran and Correa injured the Astros have promoted him to the major league club to provide some depth in the infield. He will stay there until Correa gets healthy.
6. Grant Holmes RHP (Athletics) - Grant was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2014. The Dodgers included him in a trade to the Athletics for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. While his ERA is not good (4.90) he does lead the Texas League in whiffs with 115. Opponents do seem to make hard contact off him (.279) despite his ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball. The trade of Sonny Gray gives Grant a better opportunity to work his way into the Athletics rotation. For a first round pick he has been a disappointment but expect him to find a spot in the Athletics rotation sometime next year.
7. Luis Urias SS/2B (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. His slow foot speed probably makes him a better fit for second base. This year he has seen more games at short (56) but 34 games at second. His best shot of making a major league team is in a utility role. He lacks power but can hit for average. Last year his .330 average won the California League batting title. This year he is hitting .314. His slow foot speed will not result in stolen bases so the only tool he has is his ability to hit for average and solid defensive play at second base. Expect him to get an opportunity with the Padres in September.
8. Dakota Hudson RHP (Cardinals) - Dakota was a first round pick out of Mississippi State in 2016. He leads the Texas League in ERA by more than a run. His 2.53 ERA has already led to a recent promotion to AAA. Despite his impressive numbers his whiffs are not prevalent (77 whiffs in 114 innings) and the opposition seems to have the ability to make hard contact off him (.255). He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball with a curve, slider and change combination. He has already reached 121 innings pitched so expect the Cardinals to slow down the number of innings he eats.
9. Richie Martin SS (Athletics) - Richie was a first round pick of the Athletics in 2015. The Athletics appear to have a surplus at shortstop, but if they want defense Richie is the man. The concern for him is whether he will have enough bat to play in the major leagues. This year he is only hitting .224 in AA. With the acquisition of Jorge Mateo from the Yankees the Athletics demoted him back to High A to find his bat while at the same time putting Jorge at short.
10. Samir Duenez 1B (Royals) - Samir was signed out of Venezuela in 2012. While he shows good ability to hit for contact and average he plays a position where teams look for power. Until this year he had yet to show that power. The power increase seems to have come at a lowering of his batting average (.267). The 15 homeruns is a career high but the average is down below normal. His slugging average of .429 is still a bit below average. His below average speed makes a move to the outfield difficult so if he is to make it to the majors he must continue to carry the balls over the fence at the cost of 20 to 30 points to his average.
Others to Watch
Yasiel Sierra RHP (Dodgers) - Yasiel was signed out of Cuba in 2016 for six years and $30 million that included a $6 million bonus. At 25 years of age the bonus did not count against the Dodgers international cap, but it does put pressure on the Dodgers to promote him quickly to get some bang for their buck. The Dodgers moved him to the bullpen this year after he struggled as a starting pitcher last year (6.20 ERA). It only took him 26 relief appearances with a 2.54 ERA to get him a promotion to AAA. He struck out 64 in 50 innings but a .244 opposition average is alarming. His fastball hits the mid to high 90s. Without a third pitch it might be best he work out of the bullpen. Though the Dodgers do not appear to need any help a September callup may be a possibility just to get him exposure to major league hitters.
Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - Myworld might find room for him in the top ten with more starts and less walks. The Dodgers paid him a $16 million bonus in 2015. Only Hector Olivera and his $28 million bonus is higher. At 21 with a fastball that has hit triple digits the Dodgers can be patient with him. He got a promotion to AA despite his struggles with command at High A that was responsible for his 4.88 ERA. In three starts in the Texas League his ERA sits at 2.84 but with 12 walks in 12.2 innings pitched he needs to find the plate more. Coming into this season the opposition average last year was .185. This year it is .268. For some reason his pitches are easier to hit and with a 1.57 WHIP that is too many runners on base.
A.J. Puk RHP (Athletics) - Performance wise the first round 2016 pick may not deserve to be here. His 5.88 ERA in eight starts is a bit high. But he has pitched games with 11 and 13 whiffs and has struck out 46 hitters in 35 innings. Opponents are hitting only .229 against him but 19 walks has given him too many baserunners. At 6′7″ he has good height which makes his mid to high 90s fastball that much more intimidating when it comes to the plate. The down side of that height is it makes it difficult for him to repeat his delivery making command of the fastball difficult. He also needs to develop his secondary pitches (slider and change) if he wants to stick as a starter.
Jorge Mateo SS (Athletics) - A new comer to the league since his acquisition from the Yankees. Jorge would probably be in the top five if he played more games. A toolsy player with speed and surprising power. When the Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres it forced Mateo to move to second. Some feel a average arm may make second base the best position for him. In six Texas League games Jorge has already accumulated three triples and is hitting .267. The Athletics will see how he handles short, demoting Richie Martin, their best defensive shortstop to give him opportunities.