If you’re looking for a sign of progress from the Dodgers’ farm system, here’s one: MLB.com released its annual list of the top 100 prospects yesterday, and the Dodgers occupied four spots.
Compare that to a year ago, and the Dodgers’ system seems to be inching up. Pederson was the highest-ranked Dodger in 2013 at number 44, Seager at 48. Lee slipped a bit — MLB.com had him ranked 57th in 2013 — but Urias vaulted 25 spots from 89th overall.
Don’t get bogged down too much in the specifics. One quick general takeaway is that, in a perfect world, 30 MLB teams would have an average of 3.33 prospects ranked in the top 100. On the high end, then, the Dodgers are still only slightly above average. The Astros, who picked first in the June draft each of the last two years, had seven prospects among MLB.com’s top 100. The Angels, who haven’t had a first-round pick since 2011, had none.
Upward movement is always good. In 2011, the first year that MLB.com ranked prospects, the list ended at number 50. The final slot belonged to a Seattle Mariners pitching prospect from Yucaipa named Taijuan Walker. Walker jumped up to number 4 in both 2012 and 2013, then slipped to number 6 in 2014 — after posting a 3.60 ERA in three starts in 2013. He’s slotted to start this season in the Mariners’ rotation.
MLB.com’s number-45 prospect in 2011 was Matt Harvey. If a 6.1-WAR season at age 24 is what the Dodgers can expect from Pederson or Seager (and not Tommy John surgery), they’ll take it. That’s an extreme example of course, and it’s too soon to issue passing or failing grades on any 2011 prospects. Paco Rodriguez was in college in 2011.
So the immediate meaning of this list is that several teams are in better position to trade for David Price than the Dodgers. The long-term meaning? Who knows.
Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
• Matt Eddy of BaseballAmerica.com reported that the Dodgers re-signed former prospect Trayvon Robinson to a minor-league contract. Robinson was traded in July 2011 to the Seattle Mariners as part of a three-team trade that brought Stephen Fife and Tim Federowicz to Los Angeles.
• Eddy also reported that the Dodgers signed second baseman Ryan Adams and pitcher Mark Pope to minor-league deals. Adams tested positive for amphetamines in 2012 and didn’t play in 2013. Pope spent most of last season in the independent Frontier League.
• MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported that the Dodgers are looking at a Cuban catcher, 28-year-old Yenier Bello.
• One Tampa Bay Rays beat writer predicted that David Price won’t be traded.
• DodgersDigest.com analyzed the 2013 performance of Chris Perez and Brandon League. Blog To the Score analyzed Perez’s career trends back in December. Lots of interesting nuggets to pull from both pieces.
• Weather looks good for hockey tomorrow at Dodger Stadium.
• Peter Gammons lays out some thoughts about the widening gap between small-market and large-market teams, and what it means for the next commissioner.
• I might expand this thought in a future post, but Bud Selig’s successor might copy a page from the NHL in the next round of CBA negotiations. When its lockout ended a year ago, the NHL capped contract lengths at eight years for teams to re-sign their own players and seven years to sign free agents coming off another team’s books. Baseball could certainly fudge each those contractual term limits to find the right balance.
• Pitchers and catchers report in 16 days, which means I’ll be sick of this song soon: