How do Dodgers' prospects fit LA's needs?
Los Angeles has options knocking at the door that may fortify contender status
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios. Here's my look at the Dodgers:
The Dodgers are very well established with veteran players. However, there is one major new face and a couple of prospects we may see in the big leagues this season.
Alex Guerrero is a 27-year-old second baseman from Cuba, who was signed by the Dodgers to fill one of the few remaining roster holes. While he may be sent to the Minors for more seasoning, the 5-foot-10, right-handed-hitting Guerrero will likely see Major League action at some point this season.
When I saw Guerrero at the beginning of Spring Training, he looked lighter than his listed 200 pounds. His offense shouldn't be a problem. Guerrero has excellent strength, especially in his lower half. He has quick hands -- with the ability to square up pitches, using his pull side most often. The issues for Guerrero may come on defense. He has played shortstop in his career and is being asked to move to second base.
Joc Pederson is a good left-handed-hitting outfielder with an ability to use the entire field. He is waiting in the wings for his opportunity to play at the big league level.
I think Pederson, at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, has more power than many evaluators may think. I believe that aspect of his game will continue to develop, and he'll surprise some folks. Pederson should also be able to hit for average and provide some excellent speed on the bases.
Last season at Double-A Chattanooga, Pederson stole 31 bases in 39 attempts. He also hit .278 with 22 homers, 24 doubles and three triples. Pederson is in an organization with a deep outfield. But if he continues to hit, there will be a place for him, perhaps even this season.
Right-hander Zach Lee is an outstanding starting-pitching option, in the event someone in the rotation falters. Following his selection in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Lee has completed three Minor League seasons. He pitched at Double-A Chattanooga last year, and started in 25 of his 28 appearances. Lee compiled a 3.22 ERA, with a fine 1.17 WHIP.
A good athlete, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Lee is not overpowering. He throws his fastball in the low 90s and also has a cutter and a good slider, while repeating his delivery with simple mechanics. Lee's changeup is continuing to develop. Using the entire plate, Lee throws strikes and has good command and control.
PROJECTED 2016 DODGERS LINEUP
Although he has started games in the Minor Leagues, lefty Onelki Garcia is probably best suited to coming out of the bullpen. Garcia pitched at two Minor League levels last season, while also seeing time with the Dodgers as a September callup. He threw 52 1/3 innings at Double-A Chattanooga and another 9 2/3 innings at Triple-A Albuquerque.
Garcia had a combined ERA of 2.90, with a WHIP of 1.32 in the Minors. He walked an average of 5.1 hitters per nine innings and struck out 9.7 per nine. The walk rate was far too high. It did improve at Albuquerque, however.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Cuban is 24 years old. He's a big presence on the mound, and once he commands his pitches, he could become a very good bullpen option.
Chris Withrow, 24, is a big right-hander, at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He made his debut for the Dodgers last season, pitching 34 2/3 regular-season innings and another five during the postseason.
Withrow has four quality pitches. His fastball touches 96 mph with ease, but he generally sits at a bit less. Withrow also throws a hard slider, a curveball and a changeup. He is best when he relaxes and lets his natural talent prevail. If Withrow aims the ball, he loses command and control.
Chris Reed may also be a rotation option in the future. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound lefty has completed three seasons, the most recent at Double-A Chattanooga. Like many young pitchers, control remains an issue for the 23-year-old Reed.
Lefty Julio Urias has a high ceiling as an eventual starting pitcher. Just beginning his career, Urias has a solid delivery and can change speeds on his fastball, as well as mix in a solid curveball. His changeup is still developing.
Athletic Corey Seager represents a shortstop or third-base option for the future. He was a first-round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. I saw the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Seager play in this past Arizona Fall League. He is an impressive athlete. A left-handed hitter, it wouldn't surprise me if Seager actually played his Major League career at third base. At only 19, he stands to grow beyond his current large frame.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.