The Los Angeles Dodgers were once renowned for their perpetually loaded farm system, and since the team was bought by Guggenheim, Stan Kasten, Logan White and company have worked very hard to restore that luster through international signings and recent draftees. While there were some lean years, White was still able to pluck some gems in Clayton Kershaw, Dee Gordon and Joc Pederson, among several others.
With the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft taking place today, here is a list of the top ten draftees by the Dodgers over the last ten years (that are still affiliated with the team), with the Major Leaguers coming first:
The Dodgers may have Luke Hochevar to thank for their luck in landing Kershaw. Had the Dodgers signed Hochevar the year before, he would not have entered the 2006 draft and pushed Kershaw back to the Dodgers at the seventh pick. The Dodgers may not have even been looking at Kershaw if they had signed Hochevar the year before, so fortune certainly favored the club in this regard.
Obviously, the pick worked out incredibly well for the Dodgers, as Kershaw is a two-time Cy Young Award winner at 26 years old, has drawn comparisons to the great Sandy Koufax and is a tremendous humanitarian to boot. If there is one player to build a franchise around, it is definitely Kershaw.
The current Dodgers starting second baseman was taken in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. The speedy leadoff man is not without his flaws, and he is currently in the midst of a month-long slump after a hot start to the 2014 season. He is nonetheless a dynamic player, and his speed alone will make him a valuable asset to the Dodgers. He currently leads the league with 34 steals, having only been caught 3 times. His slash line currently rests at .275/.324/.365, a far cry from his early-season output. The Dodgers are certainly hoping that Gordon can regain that sort of production sooner rather than later if they are going to be able to contend in the NL West.
Van Slyke was something of an afterthought back in 2005 when he was drafted in the 14th round. He has developed into a very valuable bench piece, as his right-handed power and ability to play both the outfield and first base have served the Dodgers well. He will forever be a part of Dodger playoff history, as he won a long, hatless (and later, helmeted) standoff outside of the dugout in St. Louis during the 2013 NLCS. In limited action this year, Van Slyke is carrying a slash line of .250/.377/.547 with four home runs and seven RBI.
Though Withrow, a 2007 first-rounder, recently went down with the need for Tommy John surgery, he has been impressive despite two injury-plagued seasons. In parts of two big league seasons, Withrow has posted a 2.73 ERA and had a K/9 rate of 11.41. When Withrow ultimately comes back, the Dodgers hope to be able to plug him right back into the bullpen.
Rodriguez was the first member of the 2012 draft class to reach the big leagues by joining the Dodgers bullpen. Drafted in the second round out of the University of Florida, Rodriguez is currently at Triple-A, but he has enough big league service time to warrant his position with the Major Leaguers on this list. Rodriguez’ struggles down the stretch last season carried over to the 2014 season, but he had a great deal of success before inevitably wearing down. On the 2013 season as a whole, he posted a 2.32 ERA with a 10.44 K/9 rate in 54 1/3 innings. For 2014, Rodriguez is currently carrying a 6.43 ERA in the big leagues and a 4.36 minor league ERA. His 2013 season should be enough of a sample size to indicate that Rodriguez has the talent to succeed as a reliever.
And now, the young Dodger prospects that will be joining the big league club sometime in the near future:
Pederson may be the best position player the Dodgers have in the minors, and he was an absolute steal in the draft. The outfielder was not taken until the 11th round in the 2010 draft, but Pederson is knocking on the door of the big league club fairly loudly from Triple-A. His slash line currently stands at .337/.446/.625, and he has hit 15 home runs and driven in 36 runs in just 55 games for the Albuquerque Isotopes. Pederson may soon force the Dodgers to make some room for him on the big league club with his outstanding play.
If Pederson is the best Dodgers position player in the minors, then Seager has to be 1-A. Seager, a 2012 first-round draftee, is still young and may be still be a few years away from the big leagues, but his production at High-A is already drawing plenty of attention. His slash line of .335/.388/.573 is impressive at any level, and he has put up eight home runs and 37 RBI as well. His position has yet to be determined, as he is projected as a third baseman but is currently playing shortstop.
Lee was the headliner of the 2010 draft that also included Pederson. Lee fell to the Dodgers at the 28th pick of the first round due to signability issues. Rather than play football at LSU, the Dodgers surprisingly signed him to a deal that included a $5.25 million signing bonus. Initially envisioned as a power-pitching frontline starter, Lee is now projected as a middle of the rotation starter with four solid pitches. He has had his share of struggles at the hitter-friendly Albuquerque, posting a 5-5 record as a starter to go with a 4.71 ERA. He was much better a year ago at Double-A, going 10-10 with a 3.22 ERA and a 3.74 K/BB ratio.
Anderson, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in the 2013 draft, has struggled at High-A this year, but his 2013 minor league season was good enough to get the attention of many publications that ranked him highly within the Dodger organization. While he is only 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA this year, he was able to go 3-0 last year while posting a 1.96 ERA.
Reed was a 2011 draftee taken with the 16th overall pick. Currently at Double-A, Reed is 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA. A year ago at the same level, Reed was 4-11, posting a 3.86 ERA. He has shown improvement, as his K/9 rate has risen from 6.9 (2013) to 9.6 (2014), and his K/BB ratio has also gone from 1.68 (2013) to 2.59 (2014).
And in the "what may have been" category, a reminder that the Dodgers once drafted two players that they now wish they could have signed:
2006: Paul Goldschmidt, 49th round (#1453), unsigned
2004: David Price, 19th round (#566), unsignedTags: Baseball, Chris Anderson, Chris Reed, Chris Withrow, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Dee Gordon, Joc Pederson, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, Paco Rodriguez, Scott Van Slyke, Zach Lee