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Dodgers Pipeline

Young Ruiz ranked No. 3 catching prospect

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- He is the highest-ranked Dodgers prospect at his position as determined by MLB Pipeline, and his name isn't Walker Buehler or Alex Verdugo.

If you aren't familiar with catcher Keibert Ruiz, the Dodgers believe you will be fairly soon. Ruiz is the No. 3 ranked catching prospect, and with veteran Yasmani Grandal eligible for free agency after the 2018 season, Ruiz could be a Dodger sooner rather than later to join Austin Barnes -- although 2019 is probably the best-case scenario for the backstop's big league arrival.

LOS ANGELES -- He is the highest-ranked Dodgers prospect at his position as determined by MLB Pipeline, and his name isn't Walker Buehler or Alex Verdugo.

If you aren't familiar with catcher Keibert Ruiz, the Dodgers believe you will be fairly soon. Ruiz is the No. 3 ranked catching prospect, and with veteran Yasmani Grandal eligible for free agency after the 2018 season, Ruiz could be a Dodger sooner rather than later to join Austin Barnes -- although 2019 is probably the best-case scenario for the backstop's big league arrival.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Ruiz is 6 feet, 200 pounds and only 19, signed out of Venezuela at age 16 for $140,000. The switch-hitter split time at both Class A levels in 2017, batting a composite .316 with an .813 OPS while displaying catching skills beyond his years. He is the sixth-ranked prospect in the organization, per MLB Pipeline.

Ruiz might have the highest upside in a deep group of young Dodgers catchers, as four of their top 25 prospects are behind the plate (22-year-old Will Smith, 27-year-old Kyle Farmer and 21-year-old Connor Wong are the others). Being the youngest of the four, Ruiz might return to Class A to start the 2018 season.

MLB Pipeline's scouting report of Ruiz reads: "A switch-hitter, Ruiz shows more pop from the left side and a more contact-oriented approach from the right side. He has precocious feel to hit and makes consistent contact rather than trying to do too much. As he gets stronger, he could develop double-digit home run power.

"Ruiz is even more advanced as a defender, displaying soft hands and impressive receiving ability for a teenager. His arm strength is just fringy, but should become average as he continues to mature physically, and it plays up because he has quick feet and makes accurate throws."

Ranking ahead of Ruiz on the MLB Pipeline catchers list are Francisco Mejia of Cleveland and Carson Kelly of St. Louis.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Fresh off callup, Buehler a top 5 righty prospect

Dodgers hurler made rise from Class A to Majors in 2017
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Walker Buehler opened the 2017 season at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, but by September he was a Major Leaguer, a meteoric rise that has resulted in Buehler being ranked as the No. 5 right-handed pitching prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline.

But in 2017, Buehler's progression was astounding. He had a 1.10 ERA in five starts at Class A, made 11 starts at Double-A, then three starts and nine relief appearances at Triple-A in preparation for a September callup to the big club, where he got his feet wet with eight bullpen appearances.

LOS ANGELES -- Walker Buehler opened the 2017 season at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, but by September he was a Major Leaguer, a meteoric rise that has resulted in Buehler being ranked as the No. 5 right-handed pitching prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline.

But in 2017, Buehler's progression was astounding. He had a 1.10 ERA in five starts at Class A, made 11 starts at Double-A, then three starts and nine relief appearances at Triple-A in preparation for a September callup to the big club, where he got his feet wet with eight bullpen appearances.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

While with the Dodgers, Buehler showed glimpses of future greatness with his electric arm, but also the wildness that often plagues young, hard throwers (eight walks in 9 1/3 innings). Still, he struck out 12, finishing the year with 137 strikeouts in 98 innings.

For 2018, the 23-year-old Buehler will go back to starting, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

"I can certainly expect to see him as a starter," said Roberts. "How things shake out in Spring Training will kind of determine where he starts, but [our goal is] for him to continue to develop as a starting pitcher. Got his feet wet last year, and I think that it was encouraging in a lot of ways for Walker -- the quality of hitters faced, the speed of the game, the preparation, being in big league ballparks, I think, all very good for him. But just continuing to develop. Again, we'll see how it all shakes out, but he's definitely a part of the solution."

Video: Roberts discusses Buehler's role on Dodgers staff

The former Vanderbilt star has been working out in Nashville, Tenn., eager to resume his career as a starter.

"Getting back into starting, I'll get settled in better maybe, have a full routine and hopefully it brings more success," Buehler said.

Video: Gurnick discusses Buehler's status with Dodgers

On the MLB Pipeline list of the game's top right-handed pitching prospects, Buehler ranks behind Angels Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, Houston's Forrest Whitley, Michael Kopech of the White Sox and Tampa Bay's Brent Honeywell.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler

Smith latest catcher climbing Dodgers' ladder

No. 8 prospect takes another step at MLB Rookie Career Development Program
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- For decades the Dodgers have been known for developing pitchers, but they need catchers to throw to, and the organization is now deep there as well, with four listed by MLB Pipeline among the system's top 25 prospects.

Kyle Farmer already has made a Major League cameo. Keibert Ruiz is rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 5 catching prospect in the game. Connor Wong was taken in the third round last year.

LOS ANGELES -- For decades the Dodgers have been known for developing pitchers, but they need catchers to throw to, and the organization is now deep there as well, with four listed by MLB Pipeline among the system's top 25 prospects.

Kyle Farmer already has made a Major League cameo. Keibert Ruiz is rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 5 catching prospect in the game. Connor Wong was taken in the third round last year.

And the Dodgers tipped their hand at the recent MLB Rookie Career Development Program by sending Will Smith.

No, not that Will Smith.

"I get that a lot," the 22-year-old catcher said of the teasing that results when you have the same name as a multi-talented Hollywood entertainer.

The Dodgers' Smith -- their No. 8 prospect -- does his entertaining with his bat, glove and arm. Don't be misled by the .232 batting average he posted last year at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. That season was interrupted by a broken hand. Fully healed, Smith was sent to the Arizona Fall League for some catch-up at-bats, and all he did was hit .371 with a 1.017 OPS in 73 plate appearances.

Smith, taken with the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 Draft out of the University of Louisville, looks back on 2017 as a breakthrough.

"I learned how long a season is," he said. "You get a taste of it the summer after you're drafted, but the first full season, from going through Spring Training, it's long. But it's better prepared me for next year, knowing the length of the season, just learning not to get too high or too low, when you're doing well and when you're not doing well, just staying even keel the whole year."

Smith was joined at the four-day orientation by Dodgers prospects Mitchell White, Dennis Santana and (since-traded) Trevor Oaks. The program is a joint venture between MLB and the MLB Players Association.

"I honestly had never heard of it, not even locker-room talk," Smith said of the program, which was held just outside Washington D.C. last week. "It's a really cool experience, last night going to the Capitol. Today, listening to speakers, gaining knowledge of the transition of going from the Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues. It's incredible how valuable it is."

The Kentuckian grew up a Red Sox fan.

Video: Prospects on their favorite baseball memories

"I can remember in 2004 talking to my grandpa and they were down, 3-0, in the [American League Championship Series] and they came back," said Smith. "He said there was a zero percent chance they could win, and I was like, 'You just wait and see.' That really taught me to keep playing the game every day. Kind of translates to now, where just win that day, just win that game."

Smith knows that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had more than a little to do with Red Sox history that October.

"Haven't had that conversation yet," said Smith. "Looking forward to it."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers fall short in Ohtani sweepstakes

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers didn't land Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani on Friday, leaving them in need of a starting pitcher but still essentially the team that fell one win shy of a World Series title.

With the Winter Meetings opening on Monday, the Dodgers are expected to either try to re-sign starting pitcher Yu Darvish or trade for a replacement; target potential setup relievers to replace Brandon Morrow, who might land closer money after his strong postseason; and retain Chase Utley or find a younger replacement as a left-handed-hitting second baseman.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers didn't land Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani on Friday, leaving them in need of a starting pitcher but still essentially the team that fell one win shy of a World Series title.

With the Winter Meetings opening on Monday, the Dodgers are expected to either try to re-sign starting pitcher Yu Darvish or trade for a replacement; target potential setup relievers to replace Brandon Morrow, who might land closer money after his strong postseason; and retain Chase Utley or find a younger replacement as a left-handed-hitting second baseman.

Hot Stove Tracker

:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::

And the Dodgers will no doubt continue to be mentioned in every Giancarlo Stanton trade rumor, as they would love to have him, but not his $295 million contract.

The assumption is that Stanton wants to be a Dodger. The club was hoping the same from Ohtani, whose agent did not reveal why the two-way star chose the Angels over the other six finalists. Two obvious differences between the Angels and Dodgers: The Dodgers couldn't offer Ohtani more than a $300,000 bonus. Nor could they or the other three National League finalists boost a designated-hitter spot, which creates opportunities for Ohtani to bat when he's not pitching.

If the signing bonus was a determining factor, the Dodgers were limited to a $300,000 offer, having put themselves in the penalty box for surpassing limits in recent years while snapping up more than a dozen Cuban prospects who suddenly became available.

Like the Angels, the Dodgers offered Ohtani a diverse city with a vibrant Japanese community. Unlike any other finalist, the Dodgers are coming off a World Series appearance. Like all the teams, the Dodgers have a front office willing to accommodate his unique skill set. They also have a pitching coach in Rick Honeycutt proven with Asian pitchers. The Dodgers also have a front-office staff with multiple Japanese-speaking officials and proximity to his Los Angeles-based agent.

Most scouts consider Ohtani a pitcher first, and with their starting depth the Dodgers would have been able to provide Ohatani extra days of rest as he transitions from the once-a-week workload that is normal in Japan. Since Hideo Nomo, the Dodgers have helped Asian pitchers Kaz Ishii, Hong-Chi Kuo, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Darvish thrive.

To utilize Ohtani's bat, the Dodgers were likely to put him in a corner-outfield spot, even though most of his batting appearances in Japan came as a designated hitter.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers reportedly meet with Ohtani

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- In the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Dodgers were one of the teams to meet the two-way star on Monday, according to MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal. The club has not confirmed.

Los Angeles is the only finalist that can offer Ohtani the chance to play for a 2017 World Series team. Of course, nobody really knows if that's viewed as a pro or con by Ohtani. With the chance to win now comes the pressure to win now. What is clear is Ohtani's goal to be the most impactful combination pitcher-slugger in modern Major League ball -- the Babe Ruth of the digital age.

LOS ANGELES -- In the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Dodgers were one of the teams to meet the two-way star on Monday, according to MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal. The club has not confirmed.

Los Angeles is the only finalist that can offer Ohtani the chance to play for a 2017 World Series team. Of course, nobody really knows if that's viewed as a pro or con by Ohtani. With the chance to win now comes the pressure to win now. What is clear is Ohtani's goal to be the most impactful combination pitcher-slugger in modern Major League ball -- the Babe Ruth of the digital age.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Dodgers are silent about Ohtani, but from various trustworthy reports, they are one of seven clubs still in the running after Sunday's cut down. And there is more for Ohtani to like about joining the Dodgers than just their recent World Series appearance.

:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::

Los Angeles can boast the largest Japanese community on the U.S. mainland. The Dodgers have a history of success with Japanese pitchers -- Hideo Nomo, Kaz Ishii, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, Kenta Maeda and Yu Darvish. They have a pitching coach, Rick Honeycutt, proven to be accommodating and helpful with Japanese pitchers. Dodger Stadium is generally considered pitcher friendly, and Ohtani's calling card -- despite a penchant for 500-foot homers -- is a triple-digit fastball.

The Dodgers have a Japanese soft-tissue specialist on the medical staff, Yosuke Nakajima; a Japanese-speaking director of team travel, Scott Akasaki; a Japanese-speaking manager of public relations, Daisuke Sugiura; and even a manager born in Okinawa to a Japanese mother, Dave Roberts.

And the Dodgers, who generally hide their intentions, were uncharacteristically public in their interest this season, when president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman took Orel Hershiser out of the broadcast booth and over to Japan for a scouting expedition of Ohtani.

Although Ohtani was still rehabbing from an ankle injury, he threw a bullpen session and took batting practice. Presumably, the Dodgers knew more about him from game video than they could compile in a practice session, but the trans-Pacific face time undoubtedly was meant to send a message of the club's sincerity.

The player and the team seem a solid fit. There is no real financial bidding war for the 23-year-old, who wants an MLB experience so badly that he's jumping now, bound to bonus limits because of his age, instead of waiting two more years when limits wouldn't apply.

Conveniently, the Dodgers are in the international bonus penalty box for their significant spending in previous seasons, so they are allowed to pay Ohtani only a $300,000 bonus (plus the $20 million posting fee to his team in Japan). For them, the timing couldn't be better.

Video: Yankees among teams out of running for Ohtani

L.A.'s starting pitching depth would allow Ohtani to gradually adjust to more frequent starts than needed in Japan. Management already has shown a desire to shuffle a sixth starter in and out of the rotation to provide rest for others.

The Dodgers apparently satisfied Ohtani's insistence to double as a hitter, even though American League clubs (Seattle and Anaheim) offer the additional option of designated hitter. With Los Angeles, Ohtani would likely be used in the outfield when he's not pitching.

The Dodgers recruited Ohtani five years ago when he was coming out of high school. But their chief recruiters at the time, Logan White and Acey Kohrogi, are now executives with the Padres. San Diego's general manager, A.J. Preller, also recruited Ohtani in 2012 on behalf of the Texas Rangers. Nomo and Saito also have current roles in the Padres' front office.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oaks, Santana added to Dodgers' roster

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers added right-handed pitching prospects Trevor Oaks and Dennis Santana to their 40-man roster Monday to protect them from going to another club in next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Major League clubs had until 5 p.m. PT to protect eligible players by adding them to the 40-man roster.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers added right-handed pitching prospects Trevor Oaks and Dennis Santana to their 40-man roster Monday to protect them from going to another club in next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Major League clubs had until 5 p.m. PT to protect eligible players by adding them to the 40-man roster.

In corresponding roster moves Monday, left-handed reliever Grant Dayton was claimed by the Braves and right-handed reliever Josh Ravin was designated for assignment, then traded to Atlanta for cash considerations. The Dodgers have a full 40-man roster.

The Rule 5 Draft will take place Dec. 14 at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Santana is the organization's No. 12 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and Oaks is rated as the No. 14 prospect.

Oaks, 24, spent most of 2017 with Triple-A Oklahoma City, going 4-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) with 72 strikeouts against 18 walks in 84 innings. He was the Dodgers' seventh-round pick in the 2014 Draft out of California Baptist University.

Santana, 21, split the season between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. He combined to go 8-7 with a 4.11 ERA and 129 strikeouts against 45 walks in 118 1/3 innings over 24 games (21 starts). Santana began the season with Rancho Cucamonga and was selected as an All-Star in the California League.

Dayton had Tommy John surgery in August and is doubtful to pitch in 2018. Ravin ended the 2017 season on the 60-day disabled list, the result of an abdominal strain.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers, Trevor Oaks, Dennis Santana

Dodgers' Smith, Peters deliver in Fall League

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Will Smith's season ended in July after he was placed on the disabled list with a broken hand, but he has looked perfectly healthy as he's been raking in the Arizona Fall League.

Smith continued his hot hitting while fellow Dodgers prospect DJ Peters showcased his power as the Glendale Desert Dogs snapped a three-game losing streak and beat the Peoria Javelinas 7-2 on Friday.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Will Smith's season ended in July after he was placed on the disabled list with a broken hand, but he has looked perfectly healthy as he's been raking in the Arizona Fall League.

Smith continued his hot hitting while fellow Dodgers prospect DJ Peters showcased his power as the Glendale Desert Dogs snapped a three-game losing streak and beat the Peoria Javelinas 7-2 on Friday.

Box score

Smith, the Dodgers' No. 8 prospect, finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs and is hitting .378 in the AFL, while Peters (Dodgers' No. 17) hit his first homer in Arizona after blasting 27 during the regular season.

"I'm just seeing the ball and putting the barrel on it and the hits are falling for me," Smith said. "I'm just trying to keep seeing the ball well and put good swings on it."

Smith wasted no time getting his big day started as he capped a four-run first with a two-run double to extend his hitting streak to five games.

Glendale's offense jumped all over Max Fried (Braves' No. 9), who entered the game with a 0.47 ERA over his first four starts, as each of the first five batters reached base.

The first two scored via an RBI groundout and a bases-loaded walk before Smith drove in a pair with a double to center field.

"It's always nice to get off to that quick start, especially as the road team," Smith said. "We put together some good at-bats in that first inning."

Fried settled down and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before giving up a solo homer to Peters.

"We see that everyday, it's incredible," Smith said of Peters' power.

Video: Dodgers prospect Smith on improving as a catcher

Although Peoria, which began the day with a league-leading .296 team batting average, boasts a potent offense, Glendale's early runs were more than enough for Brandon Waddell.

The Pirates' No. 23 prospect, who came out of the bullpen in each of his first six AFL appearances, spun a gem in his first start as he fired three scoreless frames.

Waddell threw 22 of his 32 pitches for strikes and gave up just one hit as he lowered his Fall League ERA to 1.50.

"He's pretty good," Smith said. "He had all four pitches working, he was locating the ball and keeping them off balance."

With the game already seemingly in hand, Smith came up in another big spot in the fifth and put the game out of reach with a two-run single.

The strong offensive showing in Arizona is a positive development for Smith, who hit just .232 in 72 games with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and has hit .238 over the entirety of his professional career.

"There's always adjustments, but it's just more confidence now than anything," Smith said. "[During] that time off, I really studied some video to learn what I was doing wrong, what I wasn't and made those quick adjustments."

Peoria couldn't put together enough offense to come back, but the club did avoid a shutout as Ronald Acuna (Braves' No. 1, MLB No. 5) and Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays) each hit solo homers in the eighth.

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

NBA's 76ers take in World Series in Houston

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- The Philadelphia 76ers are in Houston to play the Rockets at Toyota Center on Monday night, but with the World Series taking place just down the street, they figured it was worth their time to visit two sports venues while they're in town.

The 76ers created a bit of a spectacle when they walked onto the field at Minute Maid Park while the Dodgers took batting practice before the Astros' 13-12 victory in Game 5, giving Houston a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Series. Half the basketball team wore Dodgers jerseys; the others opted for Astros jerseys. Most spent a large part of their time near the cages taking photos of their surroundings, posing for selfies with teammates and getting shots of the field in the background.

Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- The Philadelphia 76ers are in Houston to play the Rockets at Toyota Center on Monday night, but with the World Series taking place just down the street, they figured it was worth their time to visit two sports venues while they're in town.

The 76ers created a bit of a spectacle when they walked onto the field at Minute Maid Park while the Dodgers took batting practice before the Astros' 13-12 victory in Game 5, giving Houston a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Series. Half the basketball team wore Dodgers jerseys; the others opted for Astros jerseys. Most spent a large part of their time near the cages taking photos of their surroundings, posing for selfies with teammates and getting shots of the field in the background.

Full Game Coverage

Gear up for the World Series: Astros | Dodgers

Apparently, even athletes who are playing at the highest level can still be a little star-struck.

:: World Series presented by YouTube TV: Schedule and coverage ::

"You respect the craft," guard Nik Stauskas said. "As a professional athlete, you respect anyone who's a professional at their sport. Obviously, these guys have worked tremendously hard to get to this point in their lives. It's an honor to be here, it's an honor to watch them and hopefully we'll get to see a great game tonight."

Stauskas wore an Astros jersey, while his teammate, guard T.J. McConnell, opted for the Dodgers. Stauskas, admittedly not a baseball fan, simply wanted to support the home team. McConnell, however, purposely chose the Dodgers in honor of one of the more popular athletes to play in the City of Brotherly Love.

"We play in the city of Philadelphia, and I've grown up watching baseball, and Chase Utley is one of my favorite players of all time," McConnell said. "He's a beloved Philadelphia Phillie who now plays for the Dodgers. I'm going with the Dodgers on this one."

The 76ers, 2-4 in the early stages of the 2017-18 season, will play the Rockets for the second time in a week when they meet at Toyota Center on Monday. They came to Houston by way of Dallas, where they beat the Mavericks on Saturday, 112-110.

For the 76ers, Sunday was a day of rest between games, but they respected the fact that the two baseball teams involved in the World Series were in full preparation mode during their visit to batting practice.

Being that close to the action gave some of the players a greater appreciation for how much goes into the simple act of hitting a baseball.

"When you see them bat, and hear the sound of the bat when the ball goes off the bat, you appreciate how hard it is to play your respective sport," McConnell said. "So I'm standing here in awe, just pretty much watching them working their craft. It's awesome."

Tweet from @sixers: Company outing in Houston. 🏀 x ��������#WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/xztQEWH4oI

They also appreciate how hard it is to hit a baseball, which many ballplayers say is the toughest things to do in sports. Stauskas tried to do so at a batting cage with a friend last summer. It didn't go well.

"The ball was going 40 miles an hour," he said. "I did not hit one ball. I have the most respect for these guys that can hit a ball going 95 miles an hour. It's really unbelievable."

They may not be great at hitting, but catching, for one 76er, is a different story.

Joel Embiid, the 76ers' 7-foot-tall center, found himself on the receiving end of a Giancarlo Stanton home run ball during the T-Mobile All-Star Home Run Derby last summer at Marlins Park.

"There were actually a lot of baseballs coming my way," he said. "I caught one of them."

Embiid said he tries to find time to keep up with Major League Baseball and is rooting for the Dodgers to win the World Series.

"I try to watch them when I can," he said.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros

Dodgers' Arizona Fall League overview

Peters' large stature lends to particularly big comparison
MLB.com

Aaron Judge showed how a power forward's body can translate to the diamond. With his size, strength and leverage, he obliterated the rookie home run record with 52 homers this season.

No one is putting Dodgers outfield prospect DJ Peters in the same class as Judge. But he does have some intriguing similarities to the Yankees superstar.

Aaron Judge showed how a power forward's body can translate to the diamond. With his size, strength and leverage, he obliterated the rookie home run record with 52 homers this season.

No one is putting Dodgers outfield prospect DJ Peters in the same class as Judge. But he does have some intriguing similarities to the Yankees superstar.

Like Judge, Peters has a big frame (6-foot-6, 225 pounds), huge raw right-handed power and a strong arm, and he also has left a trail of destruction in his wake. Last spring, he set school records at Western Nevada CC for batting (.419) and homers (16), prompting Los Angeles to draft him in the fourth round. In his pro debut, he topped the Rookie-level Pioneer League in runs (63), total bases (161) and OPS (1.052).

Arizona Fall League roster & stats

In 2017, his first full pro season, Peters won California League MVP honors after hitting .276/.372/.514 with 27 homers in 132 games and topping the high Class A circuit in slugging and extra-base hits (61). The Dodgers' No. 17 prospect ended the season in the Double-A Texas League playoffs, serving in a reserve role as Tulsa lost in the finals.

Now Peters, 21, is trying to build on that progress with the Arizona Fall League's Glendale Desert Dogs. Though he never has played nine straight months of baseball without a break, he's enjoying what he calls the roller coaster of professional baseball.

"A hundred and forty games goes by pretty fast in the grand scheme of things, but I had a lot of fun," Peters said. "I ended the year up in Tulsa, which is a lot of fun as well. I just love every single minute of this, being able to play for the hometown team I grew up cheering for is an absolute blessing."

A product of Glendora (Calif.) High, located about 30 miles from Los Angeles, Peters could have signed with the Cubs as a 36th-rounder out of high school or the Rangers as a 36th-rounder after his freshman year at Western Nevada. Winding up with his local team has had some benefits. He spent his first offseason working out at Dodger Stadium with big league stars such as Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner.

As with Judge, Peters' extra-large frame adds length to his swing and results in a lot of strikeouts to go with all of his home runs. He finished second in the Cal League with 189 whiffs, fanning in 32 percent of his plate appearances, though he also ranked second with 64 walks. He understands that the key going forward will be to find a happy medium where he can be both aggressive and productive.

Dodgers' Top 30 Prospects

"The strikeout rate was a little high but I feel like that kind of cancels out with the power numbers," Peters said. "Obviously, you don't want to strike out over 30 percent like I did this year every single year. For me, personally, I feel like it's learning, growing. I was young for the Cal League.

"For the Dodgers to send me there, believing in me, understanding that I might struggle but I'm going to have a lot of success as well because of the type of player that I am, how hard I work … It's not really a concern to me, just because I know I'm going to get better at it."

Dodgers hitters in the Fall League

Matt Beaty, 1B/3B (LAD No. 30) -- The Texas League MVP this season, Beaty batted .326/.378/.505 and led the circuit in hitting and doubles (31). A 12th-round pick from Belmont in 2015, he controls the strike zone well and has the versatility to play almost anywhere on the diamond.

Yusniel Diaz, OF (LAD No. 5) -- The Dodgers spent $31 million to sign Diaz in 2015 after he defected from Cuba, $15.5 million for a signing bonus and a matching amount as a penalty for exceeding its international bonus pool. A center fielder who could have solid or better tools across the board with the exception of his power, he hit .292/.354/.433 with 11 homers in 114 games between high Class A and Double-A.

Will Smith, C (LAD No. 8) -- The 31st overall pick in the 2016 Draft, Smith is an athletic catcher with developing power, surprising speed and solid defensive skills. The Louisville product batted .231/.358/.446 with 11 homers in 73 games in high Class A, but an errant pitch broke his hand in his first Double-A game and ended his season in mid-July.

Video: Dodgers prospect Smith on improving as a catcher

Dodgers pitchers in the Fall League

Isaac Anderson, RHP -- Anderson endured a rough year, going 0-9 with an 8.85 ERA in 18 games (13 starts), mostly in Double-A. His changeup is his best pitch, and the 40th-rounder in 2015 from Wichita State sets it up with a low-90s fastball.

Michael Boyle, LHP -- A 13th-rounder in 2015 out of Radford, Boyle features a three-pitch mix with his low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. He went 5-6 with a 4.75 ERA and a 37-17 K/BB ratio in 53 innings in high Class A.

Andrew Sopko, RHP -- Sopko signed as a seventh-rounder from Gonzaga in 2015 and pitches off a deceptive 88-94 mph fastball. He went 5-7 with a 4.13 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings in Double-A.

Shea Spitzbarth, RHP -- Spitzbarth has recorded a 2.58 ERA since turning pro as a nondrafted free agent out of Molloy (N.Y.) in 2015, including a 2.45 mark with 77 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings between high Class A and Double-A this year. He works primarily with a 92-94 mph fastball and a curveball.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

How the Astros, Dodgers were built

MLB.com

As the 2017 regular season started to hit the homestretch, it became very clear the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers were postseason bound. On July 31, the Astros had a 16-game lead in the American League West, while the Dodgers had a comfortable cushion of 14 games in the National League West.

Both teams, though, felt they could use a rotation upgrade to increase their chances of playing deep into October. The Dodgers made their move right at the edge of the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31 by acquiring Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers. The Astros waited a full month to make their move, nabbing Justin Verlander on Aug. 31 after the Tigers had put the veteran right-hander on waivers.

As the 2017 regular season started to hit the homestretch, it became very clear the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers were postseason bound. On July 31, the Astros had a 16-game lead in the American League West, while the Dodgers had a comfortable cushion of 14 games in the National League West.

Both teams, though, felt they could use a rotation upgrade to increase their chances of playing deep into October. The Dodgers made their move right at the edge of the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31 by acquiring Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers. The Astros waited a full month to make their move, nabbing Justin Verlander on Aug. 31 after the Tigers had put the veteran right-hander on waivers.

• Gear up for the World Series: Astros | Dodgers

:: World Series schedule and coverage ::

Both moves, obviously, have paid large dividends for the two clubs preparing to play tonight in Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV. Darvish was solid in August and September (4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in nine starts) and has won both of his postseason outings (11 1/3 IP, 8 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 14 K).

"We went into July with the mindset of focusing on impact-type talent," said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, at the beginning of October. "To the extent we were able to line up on it, we would be aggressive in doing that. Our most acute need was left-handed relief, but if there was someone who could impact us in October … and Yu fits that perfectly."

Verlander has been other-worldly, with his September (5-0, 1.06 ERA in five starts) just a tune-up to his postseason run, particularly in his AL Championship Series MVP-winning peformance (postseason combined 4-0 in 24 2/3 IP, 17 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 24 K).

"The Verlander deal took a long time to pull together, and it wasn't clear it would come together," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said as the postseason was about to begin. "To get two years of control, along with him pitching as well as he has pitched in his career, we went through a pretty disciplined approach to get that result."

That Los Angeles and Houston would get such production from trades should come as no surprise. The Dodgers had more players on their roster at the start of the postseason acquired via trade or waivers (14) than any team in the playoffs. The Astros, with 11, weren't too far behind. Tweaks to the World Series roster brought the Dodgers down to 13, with Curtis Granderson likely making way for Corey Seager, but it's still the top total. That baker's dozen produced a bWAR (Baseball-Reference WAR) of 21.1 for the Dodgers in 2017. Houston now has an even dozen on the roster, which put up a bWAR of 17.8.

How they were built: Astros | Dodgers

As much as trades have been crucial parts of building these World Series participants, there have been some big contributions from homegrown players. L.A. is obviously thrilled to get Seager back after he missed the NLCS presented by Camping World with a back issue, joining Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger as Dodgers draftees making an impact. The Dodgers' homegrown players put up a bWAR of 21.6.

The Astros have eight homegrown players on their World Series roster, and like the Dodgers, have a pair of infielders (Houston's entire starting infield is homegrown, actually) and a frontline starter who originally signed with the organization leading the group. Carlos Correa was the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, and he hit .333 and slugged .556 in the ALCS presented by Camping World. International signee Jose Altuve has gone 16-for-40 (.400) this postseason, with five homers and eight RBIs. Dallas Keuchel, a humble seventh-round pick back in 2009, may have been overshadowed by Verlander this postseason, but he has a combined 2.60 ERA in 17 1/3 playoff innings this October, having allowed just 14 hits and five walks while striking out 25. In total, the eight homegrown players provided 28.8 in bWAR.

Houston has been more "active" on the free-agent market than Los Angeles, though that's all relative. There are five free agents on the Astros' current roster, with Josh Reddick leading the way in terms of regular-season bWAR (4.4), though he's gone just 7-for-41 in the postseason. The Dodgers, for their part, have four free agents for 7.6 bWAR. Justin Turner's 5.7 mark was tops during the season, and he's gone 6-for-18 with a pair of homers this postseason.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros

How they were built: Dodgers

L.A. makes long awaited return to World Series on back of impressive core
MLB.com

MLBPipeline.com breaks down how each postseason team used the Draft, the international market and free-agent signings to build its team.

Much had been made of the Los Angeles Dodgers' inability to make it to the World Series in recent years, let alone win it. Last year, they made it to the National League Championship Series after two years in a row of getting bounced in the Division Series.

MLBPipeline.com breaks down how each postseason team used the Draft, the international market and free-agent signings to build its team.

Much had been made of the Los Angeles Dodgers' inability to make it to the World Series in recent years, let alone win it. Last year, they made it to the National League Championship Series after two years in a row of getting bounced in the Division Series.

That talk should now dissipate, though focusing on postseason futility distracts from what the organization has managed to accomplish for the past five years. The Dodgers won the NL West for the fifth season in a row in 2017, making them just the ninth team in history to make five (or more) consecutive trips to the playoffs.

:: How each postseason team was built ::

"Each season we have a regular-season goal, which we've been fortunate to accomplish with this five-year run that helps you accomplish your ultimate goal," said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, who came aboard following the 2014 season, the second year in this run. "We've come up short on that front and that's something all of us are working hard together on to accomplish. All of us really want to deliver a world championship to who are, in our opinion, the best fans in sports."

A good amount of the key personnel making up the Dodgers' core during this run is still on the roster. There is an expectation every year they'll be standing right where they are. That culture, where the first language spoken in the clubhouse is winning, makes it easier for any additions to fit in.

"I remember a week after we traded for Tony Watson, I went up to him and asked him if he was acclimating well," Friedman said. "He said it couldn't be any easier and was blown away that every single guy is focused on how to win that night's game. He said, 'It's incredible and it makes it easy to seamlessly transition and join in the conversation.'"

HOMEGROWN

Player, how acquired, year, 2017 Baseball-Reference WAR (21.6):
Kenley Jansen, Int'l sign, 2004, 2.9
Clayton Kershaw, Draft, 2006 (1st), 4.6
Joc Pederson, Draft, 2010, (11th), -0.4
Yasiel Puig, Int'l sign, 2012, 3.7
Corey Seager, Draft, 2012 (1st), 5.6
Ross Stripling, Draft, 2012, 0.5
Cody Bellinger, Draft, 2013 (4th round), 4.2
Kenta Maeda, Int'l sign, 2016, 0.5

In 2016, Seager turned his first full Major League season into a Rookie of the Year campaign, then followed that up with an All-Star season in 2017. This year, it was Bellinger's turn, and in some ways, his sure-to-be Rookie of the Year turn was even better than Seager's.

That evaluation goes beyond just statistics, where Seager's rookie WAR of 5.6 bests Bellinger's 4.2. But Bellinger didn't even start the year in the big leagues, and then was called upon to step in to fill very large holes at first base and in the outfield.

"We expected Cody to debut this year, but this was well beyond what we imagined in terms of the amount of time up, A, and B, the impact," Friedman said. "We were extremely high on him as a prospect coming up, but there's that last-mile challenge, when he goes from the minors to the major leagues, that you can't simulate in any way. There's that unknown.

"Pretty early on, we had a pretty good feel that this was different and unique with how he was able to make adjustments on the fly. The impact he's had in the batter's box is obvious. His athleticism and versatility, along with how well he's fit in the clubhouse have had an impact, too."

TRADES/WAIVERS

Player, year, acquired from, bWAR (21.1):
Austin Barnes, 2014, Marlins, 2.6
Tony Cingrani, 2017, Reds, 0.1
Yu Darvish, 2017, Rangers, 0.6
Andre Ethier, 2005, Athletics, -0.1
Josh Fields, 2016, Astros, 0.8
Logan Forsythe, 2017, Rays, 1.8
Yasmani Grandal, 2014, Padres, 2.2
Enrique Hernandez, 2014, Marlins, 1.4
Rich Hill, 2016, A's, 2.2
Chris Taylor, 2016, Mariners, 4.8
Chase Utley, 2015, Phillies, 1
Tony Watson, 2017, Pirates, 0.4
Alex Wood, 2015, Braves, 3.3

Because the Dodgers kind of ran away and hid in the NL West this season, they had some time to really look at what pieces they might need at the Deadline to help them prolong their run in October. This is a front office that's not afraid to tinker while continuing to win, as evidenced by the fact that 14 players on the roster came via trade, the most of any postseason team.

The first thing on the wish list was left-handed relief help. The losses of Grant Dayton and Adam Liberatore to injury made that a necessity and the Dodgers felt fortunate to bring in the Tonys, Watson and Cingrani, both of whom have pitched well down the stretch and in the postseason.

Video: Dodgers used trades to add talent like Darvish

"Watson has been high on our radar for a while and we checked in periodically with the Pirates about him," Friedman said. "He is a master of inducing weak contact and he's a great competitor and teammate. He's been a big part of our continued success and is going to help lengthen our bullpen in October.

"Cingrani, some of our scouts really liked. And talking to some of our big league hitters, they talked about what an uncomfortable at-bat it was against him. The combination of that made him attractive. We've seen another gear from him."

While taking care of that primary need, the Dodgers were keeping an eye out for anything bigger that might come available. Seemingly last minute, that player surfaced in the form of Yu Darvish, who was really sharp right at the end of the season, something that carried over into the playoffs.

"We went into July with the mindset of focusing on impact-type talent," Friedman said. "To the extent we were able to line up on it, we would be aggressive in doing that. Our most acute need was left-handed relief, but if there was someone who could impact us in October … and Yu fits that perfectly.

"He's done a tremendous job of acclimating, his teammates love him. He's a great competitor. He's tuned up his delivery with [pitching coach] Rick Honeycutt and that's taken hold. In his last three starts, he's looking like a guy who can really impact the game in October."

FREE AGENTS

Player, year, bWAR (7.6):
Brandon Morrow, 2017, 1.1
Justin Turner, 2014, 5.7
Charlie Culberson, 2015, 0.1
Brandon McCarthy, 2014, 0.7

As much as the Dodgers are a big-market team, they have not been active on the big league free-agent market. They've used their resources on the international market as well as for long-term extensions for players they already have.

But it was a smaller free-agent signing, made before the 2014 season by the previous regime, that might stand out the most. Justin Turner looked like a veteran utility type when he signed a $1 million contract for the 2014 season. He was a part-time player that year, but one who hit .340. Friedman and company took over and Turner morphed into a big league regular and hasn't looked back since.

Video: Turner among Dodgers' free agent contributors

He was a free agent after the 2016 season, but this time got a contract worthy of his production, a four-year, $64 million deal. He's responded with an All-Star season and several career highs offensively. Prior to coming to the Dodgers, Turner's career WAR was 0.8. Since donning Dodger blue, he has amassed an 18.8 WAR.

"It's a testament to him," Friedman said. "He went to work on his swing, was able to find one that really worked well for him and his body. He's been able to lock that down and just do maintenance on it. He's turned into one of the best hitters in the National League."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayo on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Rios, Buehler named Dodgers Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Edwin Rios and Walker Buehler have been chosen as the Dodgers' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, by MLBPipeline.com.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLBPipeline.com staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list, and played the entire year in the organization.

LOS ANGELES -- Edwin Rios and Walker Buehler have been chosen as the Dodgers' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, by MLBPipeline.com.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLBPipeline.com staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list, and played the entire year in the organization.

Dodgers' Prospects of the Year

The 23-year-old Rios, ranked No. 16 among Dodgers prospects by MLBPipeline.com, hit .309 with 24 home runs and 91 RBIs combined between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

A left-handed hitter who throws right-handed, Rios plays both corner infield positions. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 Draft out of Florida International University and is a native of Puerto Rico who went to high school in Florida.

The 23-year-old Buehler, the top prospect in the organization as ranked by MLBPipeline.com and No. 10 overall in MLB, raced through the Dodgers' system this year, from Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga in April to the big-league bullpen currently with an outside chance to make the postseason roster.

Video: Top Prospects: Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers

The right-handed Buehler was a combined 3-3 with a 3.50 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings in the Minor Leagues. He struggled with the Dodgers to an 8.64 ERA in seven September relief appearances. Buehler was a first-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2015 who then underwent Tommy John surgery and pitched only five innings in 2016.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Buehler impresses in Major League debut

No. 12 overall top prospect fires two shutout innings
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The lone bright spot for the Dodgers from their 9-1 loss to the Rockies was that their No. 1 prospect, Walker Buehler, got his first taste of Major League action.

Buehler, the No. 12 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, made his Major League debut on Thursday. After Buehler was called up on Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts said he wanted to ease Buehler into the action and pitch in low-leverage situations. Buehler had that opportunity in the eighth with Dodgers trailing by eight runs.

Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- The lone bright spot for the Dodgers from their 9-1 loss to the Rockies was that their No. 1 prospect, Walker Buehler, got his first taste of Major League action.

Buehler, the No. 12 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, made his Major League debut on Thursday. After Buehler was called up on Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts said he wanted to ease Buehler into the action and pitch in low-leverage situations. Buehler had that opportunity in the eighth with Dodgers trailing by eight runs.

Full Game Coverage

"The back end of the game, one real highlight was obviously Walker Buehler," Roberts said. "And to see him break in like that, just the presence, the command of all his pitches. It just looked right. It was exciting for us."

The 23-year-old got off to a shaky start, allowing a leadoff hit to Carlos Gonzalez, but the hard-throwing righty settled in to get a double play and a groundout to end the frame. Buehler tossed two scoreless frames on 26 pitches (18 for strikes) and recorded two strikeouts, his first coming against the National League's top hitter, Charlie Blackmon, freezing him with a slider.

Video: COL@LAD: Buehler tosses two shutout innings in debut

Buehler, who had Tommy John surgery in 2015, has ascended quickly to the Majors, starting this season in Class A and now possibly pitching his way on the playoff roster.

"Having repeat experiences, it helps," Buehler said about his rise. "My Triple-A debut was a disaster, so I was trying to avoid that. Every time I've debuted it hasn't gone really well. Luckily the big one I did well."

Buehler's four-seamer was clocked at 100 mph during the eighth and he averaged 98.9 mph on the night, a tick higher than teammate Brandon Morrow, who averages 98 mph, highest on the team. Roberts compared Buehler's stuff to a former teammate of his, Tim Lincecum, a former Cy Young Award Winner.

"He's bigger than Tim," Roberts said. "As far as the body type, the strength, the athleticism, poise on the mound and just pure stuff, very comparable to me."

As for his first strikeout ball, Buehler said the ball will go to his father.

"My dad lived away from me most of my life," Buehler said. "As I've grown older I've become more like him. He's a big memorabilia guy. He'll get that one."

Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler