Dodgers 2017 Top Prospects: Is Another Brock Stewart, Andrew Toles Ascension Coming for Mitchell White?
Dodgers 2017 Top Prospects: Is Another Brock Stewart, Andrew Toles Ascension Coming For Mitchell White?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

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And then there were 10. The upper echelon of the Los Angeles Dodgers top prospects for the 2017 season includes two of the most unlikely stories from last year, two left-handed infielders with very different skill sets, and perhaps the biggest breakout candidate in the system.

10. Mitchell White, RHP

White has a similar origin story to Trevor Oaks. Both are California natives, had Tommy John surgery prior to pitching in college and popped up late in their draft eligible years. They’re even similar in size and throw right handed.

After missing his freshman season at Santa Clara University, White was used out of the bullpen as a redshirt freshman and pitched his way into the rotation the following year. He performed very well, striking out 118 batters in 92 innings before getting selected by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2016 Draft. White got a call from his agent and had to stop playing Call of Duty. A real hardship.

Once he signed, the Dodgers sent White to the Arizona League club before he headed out to Low-A Great Lakes. With the Loons, he made eight appearances of two innings apiece. This was done to intentionally limit White’s innings. He’d already nearly tripled his innings pitched from 2015 to 2016, so a conservative approach seemed appropriate. He made one final appearance with High-A Rancho Cucamonga in September.

Altogether, White pitched 22 innings in his debut, allowing just seven hits, six walks and one unearned run. He struck out 30 and opposing batters hit .096 against him. This is easily one of the most dominant professional debuts I’ve ever seen.

This absurd production isn’t all by accident, either. White has some of the best stuff in the system. His fastball generally sits in the low to mid 90s, touching 97. Keith Law of ESPN reported White sitting 95-97 in a short stint during Spring Training. What’s more, his fastball features natural cutting action, making it that much harder to hit.

On top of that, White throws a cutter which, at its best, will sit in the high 80s and get into the low 90s. It features hard, late break that will surely break plenty of bats. He also throws a curveball in the upper 70s. It’s not as good as the cutter but still projects to be an above average offering in time. He has a changeup that he doesn’t use much because, frankly, he doesn’t need to right now.

It appears that the Dodgers will take the gloves off White in 2017 and let him pitch a full season. If he remains healthy, which is a big if given his prior Tommy John operation as well as his current velocity, he could get to the Majors quickly and establish himself as a No. 2 starter.

9. Gavin Lux, SS

Kenosha, Wisconsin isn’t exactly known as a baseball Mecca. Most Midwestern and Northeastern states don’t have baseball year round and some high schools in those regions don’t even have baseball programs. So it was fortunate that Lux could get exposure on the showcase circuit, establishing himself as a top-round pick.

Lux ended up going No. 20 overall last year, then hit the rookie leagues. Going from Wisconsin to Arizona has to be some adjustment. It didn’t seem to be a challenge for Lux, who batted .281 with 10 doubles and 25 walks in 48 games.

He was then promoted to Rookie-Level Ogden, which was much more like his hometown. He finished the season with the Raptors by hitting .387/.441/.484 in eight games heading into the playoffs. Overall, he slashed .296/.375/.399 last season.

At this stage of his career Lux doesn’t have a lot of big tools, but he is making progress. He’s improved his speed this offseason, dropping his 60-yard dash time by 0.2 of a second. He’s now a 65-70 runner according to that measurement. Whether it translates to the field remains to be seen.

On defense, Lux shows solid range and quickness. However, in his debut, his hands were a bit rough and he struggled with his throwing accuracy. Neither of those issues should hamper the young shortstop long-term though, and he profiles as at least an average defender in the future.

Offensively, Lux seems more like a top-of-the-order hitter as opposed to hitting in the middle of the lineup. His swing is geared more toward line drives now and he doesn’t show a ton of power just yet. Lux is big enough to develop some power over time, as he matures and adjusts his swing plane. He drew a good number of walks in his debut, which is a positive.

This season should be a near homecoming for the 19-year-old. Lux will likely join the Loons at the outset of the season, which is just across Lake Michigan from his hometown. With Corey Seager entrenched at shortstop for the foreseeable future, there’s no need to rush Lux, who can take his time developing at his own pace.

CONTINUE READING: Surprise outfielder and pitcher, power-hitting infielder