Catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Josiah Gray are Dodgers prospects ready for the show
Every organization’s goal is to succeed at the major league level while maintaining a robust farm system. The Dodgers have arguably pulled off the balancing act better than anyone else during Andrew Friedman’s tenure as president of baseball operations.
The franchise last season won its first World Series since 1988 after Baseball America ranked its farm system the fifth-best in baseball. No other team ranked in the top 12 has won a championship since 2005.
Reaching the summit required the Dodgers tapping into their minor league system. Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Victor Gonzalez and Gavin Lux, in varying capacities, helped the Dodgers and have since graduated from prospect status. As a result, the system is not considered as strong this year; MLB.com ranked the Dodgers’ system 14th and Baseball America pegged it at ninth.
Talent remains in the minor league system, particularly in the lower ranks. Here’s a look at the top prospects.
1. Keibert Ruiz, (C): Ruiz, 22, is stuck behind Will Smith and Austin Barnes on the big league depth chart, but he should return to the majors at some point in 2021. The switch-hitter debuted last season, homering in his first at-bat, and impressed in spring training after reporting late because of a visa issue. Signed in 2015 out of Valencia, Venezuela, Ruiz tore up the low minors for three seasons but struggled to put up power numbers in 2019 at double A and triple A, posting a slugging percentage of .347 in 350 plate appearances.
2. Josiah Gray (RHP): Gray is the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect now that Gonsolin and May are major leaguers. The right-hander reached double A in 2019, when he was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year. He’s expected to make his major league debut this season. Gray, 23, was acquired along with infielder Jeter Downs in a 2018 trade with Cincinnati that sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to Cincinnati. Downs was part of the package the Dodgers sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Mookie Betts and David Price.
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3. Michael Busch (INF): The Dodgers drafted Busch, 23, in the first round in 2019 for his hitting ability and he impressed in spring training this year. Defensively, they’re giving Busch a chance to play second base, but he played mostly first base and left field at North Carolina, where hit hit 29 home runs his last two seasons. Busch played in only 10 minor league games after signing in 2019.
4. Kody Hoese (3B): Hoese, the Dodgers’ other first-round pick in 2019, batted .299 with five home runs and an .863 on-base-plus-slugging percentage between rookie ball and low A two years ago before spending last season at the team’s alternate training site. Hoese, 23, elevated his draft status during his junior year at Tulane, when he batted .391 with 23 home runs and a superb 1.265 OPS.
5. Bobby Miller (RHP): Miller, the Dodgers’ first-round selection out of Louisville a year ago, boasts a mid-90s fastball that touches 99 mph and a darting slider in the mid-90s. He also spent last season at the alternate training site before the club invited him to major league camp this spring.
6. Diego Cartaya (C): The second-youngest player on this list at age 19, Cartaya was the top-ranked prospect out of Venezuela in 2018. He played in 49 minor league games in 2019 and spent last season at the alternate training site.
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7. Ryan Pepiot (RHP): Perhaps no Dodgers prospect’s profile has jumped higher than Pepiot’s over the last year. The 23-year-old right-hander was considered the best pitcher at the Dodgers’ alternate training site last season behind an elite changeup. He was drafted in the third round in 2019 out of Butler University.
8. Andy Pages (OF): Pages, 20, was the youngest player in Dodgers camp this spring. The Cuba native made an impressive full-season debut in 2018 when he ranked first or second in the rookie-level Pioneer League in extra-base hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases and slugging percentage at 18 years old.
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9. Wilman Diaz (SS): Diaz, 17, was the top-ranked Venezuelan prospect in 2020 and officially signed for $2.7 million in January. He was developed at the same academy in Venezuela as Cartaya.
10. Jacob Amaya (SS/2B): The West Covina native is a slick-fielding shortstop with standout plate discipline — Amaya, 22, had nearly as many walks (81) as strikeouts (98) between low-A Great Lakes and high-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2019. He spent 2020 at the team’s alternate training site and was invited to spring training.
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