Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler and outfielder Alex Verdugo were ranked the Nos. 12 and 36 prospects in baseball, respectively, by ESPN’s Keith Law. Also making the list were two other Dodgers prospects in right-hander Yadier Alvarez and catcher Keibert Ruiz, who placed at the No. 52 and No. 97.
Buehler, with an increased workload last season, appeared in 28 Minor League games (19 starts) across three levels. He proceeded to post a 3.35 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 88.2 innings with 125 strikeouts to 31 walks.
In the wake of his success, Buehler received a September call-up and worked exclusively out of the bullpen for the Dodgers. He struggled in a small sample size, yielding a 7.71 ERA over 9.1 innings.
Though he did accumulate 12 strikeouts behind a dominating fastball that approached triple digits on the radar gun. Buehler is expected to return to the starting rotation this season and may have an opportunity to earn a spot on the Major League roster during Spring Training.
Verdugo enjoyed a terrific season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he hit .314/.389/.436 with six home runs and 62 RBIs in 117 games. Like Buehler, he also received a promotion to the Majors in September, where Verdugo put up a .544 on-base plus slugging with one home run over 15 games.
Alvarez, who joined the Dodgers during the 2015 international signing period, saw time with High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa last season. He took a step back from his impressive 2016 campaign.
In 33 innings across seven starts for the Drillers, Alvarez posted a 3.55 ERA and 1.64 WHIP with 36 strikeouts to 25 walks. He yielded just one home run during the stint, but saw his peripherals otherwise trend in the wrong direction.
Alvarez further struggled with the Quakes, where he received the bulk of his work. Over 59.1 innings and 14 appearances (11 starts), the right-hander compiled a 6.07 ERA and 1.45 WHIP with 9.3 hits, 9.3 strikeouts and 3.8 walks per nine.
Ruiz was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in 2014, and split his year with Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho Cucamonga, enjoying success at both levels.
In 63 games with the Loons, Ruiz hit .317/.372/.423 with 16 doubles, two home runs and 24 RBI across 251 plate appearances. He earned a promotion later in the season, and saw a power surge at the plate.
With the Quakes, Ruiz slashed .315/.344/.497 with 14 extra-base hits over 160 trips to the plate. Known for his defense, he allowed just five passed balls and additionally threw out 23 percent of base stealers.