The Los Angeles Dodgers saw a trio of prospects place in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 rankings for the 2018 season. The group is headlined by Walker Buehler (No. 13), Alex Verdugo (33) and Keibert Ruiz (52).
Buehler additionally checks in as the league’s fifth-best right-handed pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline. In 28 Minor League games (19 starts) across three levels last season, he posted a 3.35 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 88.2 innings with 125 strikeouts to 31 walks.
Buehler received a September call-up and worked exclusively out of the bullpen for the Dodgers, where he struggled in a small sample size to the tune of a 7.71 ERA over 9.1 innings. The 23-year-old will return to a starting role this season, but he’ll likely begin the year in the Minors with an effort to reduce his workload, just three years removed from Tommy John surgery.
Verdugo enjoyed similar success with Triple-A Oklahoma City last season, where he hit .314/.389/.436 with six home runs and 62 RBIs in 117 games. He also experienced a cup of coffee in the Majors last September, and proceeded to amass a .544 on-base plus slugging with one home run over 15 games.
Verdugo will receive an opportunity to crack the Dodgers roster out of Spring Training, but faces a lot of competition along the way, with the likes of Kiké Hernandez, Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Trayce Thompson and Andrew Toles all vying for playing time in left field.
For Ruiz, his unexpected breakout campaign earned him recognition as the league’s third-best catching prospect entering the 2018 season.
The 19-year-old was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in 2014 and split time with Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho Cucamonga last season.
In 63 games with the Loons, Ruiz batted .317/.372/.423 with 16 doubles, two home runs and 24 RBI across 251 plate appearances. He excelled defensively, committing just four errors while throwing out 22 percent of baserunners that attempted to steal a base.
Ruiz earned a promotion later in the year and went on to slash .315/.344/.497 with 14 extra-base hits in 160 plate appearances with the Quakes. He posted similar defensive numbers in a smaller sample size and yielded only five passed balls behind the plate.