The next installment in ranking the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top 50 prospects for the 2017 season features power-hitting outfielders and two of the hardest throwers in their farm system, among others.
40. Cody Thomas, OF
One of the more intriguing players taken in last year’s draft, Thomas was a quarterback on the University of Oklahoma’s football team before switching to baseball full time his junior season. He went on to sign with the Dodgers as a 13th-rounder.
In his debut, Thomas put on a prodigious power display. He played seven games with the Arizona League Dodgers, homering three times in his last four games. Thomas then joined Rookie-Level Ogden and homered in his first three games as a Raptor, giving him a streak of five games with a homer.
He had a 1.228 on-base plus slugging percentage in July, before falling off to .668 in August but finished strong with a 1.132 OPS.
Thomas has good size at 6’4 and 211 lbs., as well as the strong arm you’d expect of a former quarterback. He’s athletic enough to have played center field in rookie ball and even stole 10 bases.
At the plate, Thomas shows solid bat speed and strong wrists, with enough natural loft to project to at least average power. Despite being 22, Thomas is raw and will need time to develop. If everything comes together, he could turn into a prototypical right fielder.
39. Jacob Rhame, RHP
A sixth-rounder from 2013, Rhame is likely the best pitcher that remains in the system after that year’s 24th-round selectoin, Jose De Leon, was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays during the offseason.
The power-righty came out of the same Texas junior college that produced former Dodgers’ top prospect Andy LaRoche, Grayson County College. Rhame relies almost exclusively on his fastball, which is to be expected when he can consistently hit the upper 90s and scrape triple digits.
He hasn’t settled on a reliable secondary offering and would have trouble getting by in the Majors with one pitch, regardless how hard he throws. Rhame’s control comes and goes.
If Rhame develops a solid breaking ball or offspeed pitch, he could be a solid bullpen piece. If not, he’ll likely continue lighting up radar guns in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
38. Oneil Cruz, SS
Another one of the Dodgers’ bonus additions from the 2015-16 international signing period, Cruz signed for $950,000 on July 2, 2015. He’s experienced a growth spurt, listed at 6’1 before he signed and now stands closer to 6’6. That likely means his days at shortstop are over.
While Cruz’s defensive future is uncertain, he’s not a statue in the field. He played multiple positions during the Instructional League and should be a good defensive third baseman when he matures physically.
Offensively, he’s already making noise, with one scout lauding his hitting ability in Arizona. He hit .294 with an .811 OPS in his debut in the Dominican Summer League last year, with 18 doubles in 55 games.
Just 18 years old, Cruz is a breakout candidate this year, though it’s unclear when and where he’ll debut. A safe bet would be him remaining at extended Spring Training until rookie ball begins in June.
37. Aneurys Zabala, RHP
Originally signed by the Seattle Mariners out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Zabala spent three years in rookie ball before coming to the Dodgers in the Chase De Jong trade this spring. While his experience is limited, Zabala’s stuff is not.
Zabala has arguably the best name in the system, as well as the best fastball. It’s developed into a near 80 grade offering that regularly touches 100 mph. He’ll also show a plus curveball from time to time, giving him closer potential.
The issue, though, has been throwing strikes. Even after breaking out last season, Zabala walked 13.6 percent of the batters he faced.
Initially being used as a starter, Zabala has found himself as a reliever and it’s time that he takes the next step up the Minor League ladder. He should be the closer for Low-A Great Lakes to begin 2017 and, with a little polish, could move up pretty quickly.
36. A.J. Alexy, RHP
Before being selected and signed by the Dodgers in the 11th round of last year’s draft, Alexy was the subject of much consternation in the scouting community after making 164 pitches in a start during his senior year.
Nevertheless, the Dodgers signed him for $600,000 and sent the right-hander to rookie ball. During his debut, Alexy posted a 4.61 with 12 strikeouts in 13.2 innings. He is all about projection.
The 6’4 righty has a lean frame that should carry plenty of good weight as he matures. He currently sits 88-92 mph with his fastball and should throw harder in the coming years. His curveball shows potential and could be a plus pitch in time, while a changeup lags behind.
A northeast arm who will be just 19 next season, there’s no need to rush the young hurler. There’s a chance Alexy could begin next season back in rookie ball before heading to a familiar region in Great Lakes.
CONTINUE READING: Impressive outfielder, versatile catcher, and more prospects