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The next wave of ranking the top 50 prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization for the 2017 season features two Cuban natives, a newcomer to the organization, and do-it-all outfielders, among others.
30. Brendon Davis, SS
Look up the definition of “beanpole” and you’ll find a picture of Davis. Listed at 6’4 and 165 lbs, the 2015 fifth-rounder nearly disappears when he steps into the batter’s box. That’s not an indictment of Davis’ bat, though the 19-year-old has some work to do.
In his debut, Davis played just 30 games and hit .254/.289/.325 with only five extra-base hits. Last year, he improved just a bit, hitting 18 doubles and five homers in 109 games. He didn’t walk much and struck out more than 25 percent of the time, but it’s hard to imagine that he won’t add muscle to his extremely skinny frame and improve his offensive outlook in time.
Davis’ swing is solid but he lacks present strength, understandably. On defense, he has solid actions and the arm for the left side of the infield, but he’s probably going to move to third base eventually simply due to his height.
Obviously, moving off shortstop isn’t set in stone, but Davis would have to beat the odds to remain there. If he does move to the hot corner, Davis’ defense improves but it’s that much more important that he develops on offense.
Still a teenager, Davis could repeat the year with Low-A Great Lakes, given his lack of production there last season. However, if this year’s first-round selection, Gavin Lux, breaks camp with the Loons, Davis will be one of the youngest players in the California League.
29. Caleb Ferguson, LHP
Ferguson came out of nowhere last year. His senior season in high school was cut short after experiencing elbow pain and he eventually had Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers took a flier on him in the 38th round, and he signed.
Ferguson debuted in June of 2015 with the Arizona League Dodgers, where he posted an 8.59 ERA. In 2016, Ferguson stayed behind at extended Spring Training and rejoined the AZL club at the start of the season. That time around, things were different.
In his second start, the lefty struck out nine batters in just four innings, earning a promotion to Rookie-Level Ogden. After a so-so Raptors debut, he pitched a six-inning, one-hit, eight-strikeout gem which pushed him to Great Lakes.
In Low-A, Ferguson pitched extremely well, yielding just a 2.68 ERA in 10 starts. Two years removed from Tommy John, Ferguson took off last season.
Showing a quality three-pitch mix, he can get his fastball into the low 90s but it’s effective because of its sink. He throws a sweeping curveball and a changeup for strikes, though presently lacks a true strikeout pitch.
What Ferguson does have, however, is excellent control. He walked just five batters in 66.1 innings last season. He induces plenty of ground balls and works quickly, so his defense loves him.
Still just 20 years old, Ferguson could move up to High-A Rancho Cucamonga to start 2017, where his sinker and control profile would greatly benefit him. He doesn’t have an especially high ceiling, but he does have a pretty high floor. If his velocity ticks up or he develops a putaway pitch, look out.
28. Jose Miguel Fernandez, 2B
For years, Fernandez was one of the top hitters in Cuba. At 21, he batted .346 in Cuba’s top league. Three years later, he hit .355. The following season, he slashed .326/.482/.456 with 65 walks and just 10 strikeouts. Then, in late 2015, he left Cuba to pursue a Major League career. And then Fernandez waited.
Over a year later, he finally was able to realize his dream, signing with the Dodgers for $200,000 in January. The club sent him to the Dominican Winter League, where Fernandez batted .286 with a .369 on-base percentage in 18 games.
After hitting over .300 in Cuba with an OBP of over .400, fans should expect Fernandez to hit for average and get on base. However, there’s not a whole lot else to his game.
He has a thick lower half that limits his mobility in the field and plays just a passable second base. Fernandez doesn’t hit for much power, totaling just 37 homers in over 600 games in Cuba.
It’s unclear what his ultimate role will be. Could the 28-year-old be an average defender at second base with a high OBP? Is he just a glorified pinch-hitter? Time will tell. While he waits for his shot with the Dodgers, he’ll likely light up high Minors pitching, but don’t read too much into it.
27. Yaisel Sierra, RHP
Another Cuban signee, Sierra was on the opposite end of the pay scale. During the bonus bonanza, the Dodgers dished out $30 million over six years for the right-hander. However, after his first year in pro ball, it seems that financial commitment may have been a bit overzealous.
Sierra didn’t pitch especially well in Cuba, though he was young. In 2012, as a 21 year old, he posted a 2.20 ERA in 81.2 innings, but things went downhill from there. In 2014, his final year pitching in Cuba, he sported a 6.10 ERA.
Looking for a fresh start in the states, the Dodgers sent him to Rancho Cucamonga as a starter, and Sierra struggled. His stuff backed up and he posted a 6.20 ERA in 20 games with the Quakes.
However, a move up to Double-A Tulsa and back to the bullpen, where he spent most of his time in Cuba, paid off. Sierra’s dropped his ERA by nearly two runs and his strikeout rate skyrocketed by five per nine innings.
At his best, Sierra looks like he could work as a seventh-inning reliever. His four-seamer sits in the mid 90s (and touched 100 mph on Tulsa’s stadium gun) and he compliments it with both a hard two-seamer and a slider.
The results haven’t matched the stuff thus far due to inconsistent command but there’s time for him to develop a bit further.
After being removed from the 40-man roster last season, he has an opportunity to rebound and show the Dodgers he’s worthy of their investment.
Sierra’s had difficulty throwing strikes this spring (eight walks in 9.2 innings), but if he gets his stuff under control this season, he could be a bullpen option if injuries hit.
26. Drew Jackson, SS
Prospect-for-prospect trades are uncommon, which was why the Chase De Jong being sent to the Seattle Mariners for Aneurys Zabala and Jackson was so unexpected. While Zabala may have the most upside in the deal, Jackson could be the surest thing.
Signed as a fifth-rounder by the Mariners in 2015, Jackson burst on to the scene in his debut, hitting .358/.432/.447 with 47 stolen bases in just 59 games in rookie ball. However, moving up to the California League was a rude awakening.
Last year, Jackson spent the entire season with Bakersfield and struggled mightily despite the friendly confines. He hit just .258/.332/.345 with 32 extra base hits and 16 steals in 24 attempts. He walked enough, but also struck out 105 times.
Known for his defense, Jackson projects to be at least average at shortstop. His arm is his best tool overall, receiving 70s and 80s from scouts and evaluators. Jackson is a good runner but needs to improve his base stealing acumen, as he was caught in a third of his attempts last season.
At the plate, Jackson has some bat speed but he needs to do a better job of hitting the ball in the air. He went to Stanford, a program notorious for stressing hitting the ball on the ground. Eschewing that approach would likely benefit him greatly in the pros.
The Dodgers’ organizational depth at shortstop is suddenly very crowded. Jackson should be penciled in with the Drillers on Opening Day, and will need to make strides on offense, a difficult task moving from High-A to Double-A.
CONTINUE READING: Potential five-tool outfielder, power-hitting first baseman, and more