Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.
The Graduate: Corey Seager (SS): I spent all of last season trying to acquire Corey Seager in my FanGraphs Ottoneu league but I was thwarted at every turn. I had no doubt the young infielder was going to be a star — and very quickly. After all, there aren’t many rookies that can become a .300-average, 25-homer threat at the age 22, or threaten to make Seattle’s Kyle Seager look like the lesser of two siblings. Corey has a chance to win some MVP awards and could eventually top 30 homers (and maybe even threaten 40) while continuing to produce a strong average. There aren’t many holes in his game but he could stand to improve against southpaws and it remains to be seen if he can stick at shortstop long term.
The Riser: Willie Calhoun (2B): The Dodgers have a disgusting amount of talent in their system and Calhoun is a perfect example of how the organization doesn’t have to outspend everyone to have developmental success. They can scout and development better than most organizations too: Calhoun was a 2015 fourth round pick out of a small junior college. He immediately hit in pro ball and played at three levels in 2015 before earning an opening day assignment to double-A in ’16. He didn’t hit quite as well (somewhat understandable given the aggressive assignment) but he still struck out just 65 times in 132 games and went deep 27 times. Standing 5-8, he’s got sneaky Jose Altuve power because of strong arms/wrists and a quick bat. He likely won’t stick at second base but the bat should play just about anywhere.
The Tumbler: Chris Anderson (RHP): The 18th overall selection in the 2013, Anderson continues to see his value drop year by year. He reached triple-A in 2015 after spending most of that year in double-A but ’16 was a nightmare campaign. Back in double-A and moving from starter to reliever, he posted a BB-K rate of 35-25, which earned him a demotion back to high-A ball. He still has potential but Anderson needs to take a huge step forward with both his command and his control if he’s going to realize any of his potential at the big league level.
The ’16 Draft Pick: Gavin Lux (SS): A solid defender, this 18-year-old shortstop hit far better than expected during his debut season and actually earned a late-season promotion to advanced rookie ball. Aside from a promising hit tool, Lux doesn’t project to be overly flashy with power or speed on the base paths. But at 6-2, 190 pounds, he has a frame that could eventually add strength to his swing which could result in 10-15 home runs annually. With Corey Seager currently locked in to the Dodgers’ shortstop position, Lux will have lots of time to develop at his own pace.
The Lottery Ticket: Keibert Ruiz (C): The Dodgers have had a knack for developing offensive-minded catchers and Ruiz could be the next one in line. Signed for less than $150,000, he’s another player that shows Los Angeles can really scout and develop young players. Ruiz, 18, played in a good hitter’s league in 2016 but the .354 average, 22 extra base hits and 23 strikeouts in 189 at-bats were impressive nonetheless. He shows enough skill behind the plate to stick there as long as he can improve his throwing. The switch-hitter could open up 2017 in full-season ball as a teenager if he has a strong spring.
The Lottery Ticket (2): Yadier Alvarez (RHP): Alvarez is fairly well known as a big-ticket Cuban signee by the large market Dodgers but I wanted to mention him because I think he’s going to be a beast. He might even reach the Majors in 2017 if he stays healthy and the Dodgers feel like loosening the reigns on him. Just 20, he can already hit 100 mph with his heater and shows a promising slider. In the low minors in 2016, he struck out 81 batters in 59.1 innings and showed respectable control with 21 walks.
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