This once-mighty prospect factory has fallen on hard times to a degree. The organization has some interesting sleepers – Trayvon Robinson, Kenley Jansen, and Allen Webster, for example – but it lacks the impressive collection of high-ceiling talent that it once had. With that said, the likes of Devaris Gordon, Andrew Lambo, Josh Lindblom, Ethan Martin, and Chris Withrow possess a lot of potential.
There is a serious lack of depth at catcher, first base, second base, third base, and left-handed pitching. The deepest positions are right-handed pitching and the outfield. Gordon and Ivan DeJesus Jr. are interesting shortstop prospects.
The organization’s recent drafts have been good but they really haven’t produced high-ceiling talents. Aaron Miller was an interesting pick in ’09 but he was not a consensus first round selection, and the club chose not to sign players to over-slot deals. Martin (’08) and Withrow (’07) have the potential to be impact starters but they have yet to truly take “that next step.” Scouting director Tim Hallgren, in his fourth season, will have his work cut out for him. This organization needs depth.
The organization’s international signing efforts have also fallen on hard times. Based on Baseball America’s Top 30 prospect list for the Dodgers, the club has just four international prospects amongst the organization’s best players. Four. Five years ago, the club had nine international prospects listed. In the publication’s first handbook in 2001, the system had 11 internationally signed Top 30 prospects. The organization’s player development system seems lost. Where is the club investing in prospects?
On the plus side, the club does have some exciting, young players currently in the Major Leagues. Outfielders Matt Kemp (25) and Andre Ethier (27) are some of the best hitters in the NL West under the age of 30. Kemp flirted with a .300 average while also just missing a 30-30 season. He drove in 100 runs for the first time in his career. Ethier also topped 100 RBI for the first time and slugged 31 homers and 42 doubles. James Loney (25) doesn’t have prototypical power, but he’s a valuable first baseman. Catcher Russell Martin is just 27 but his bat has fallen on hard times.
On the mound, the club has innings-eater Chad Billingsley (25) in the starting rotation and bulldog Jonathan Broxton (25) holding down the bullpen. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, 22, has the ceiling of a No. 1 starter. Those are three very talented arms, but the depth is just not there are the MLB level, either.
There are a lot of question marks surrounding this organization entering the 2010 season and there may not be many answers until the ownership mess is resolved.
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