Dodgers put three prospects on Top 100 list
Outfielder Puig (76), righty Lee (78), outfielder Pederson (85) ranked by MLB.com
The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013.
The list does not include international signing Hyun-Jin Ryu because players who are least 23 years of age and have played as a professional in a league recognized by the Commissioner's Office for a minimum of five seasons are not eligible for consideration. The Dodgers committed more than $62 million to sign the 25-year-old Korean, who will slide into the middle of their starting rotation.
Ryu's signing came less than six months after the Dodgers rocked the game with their stunning acquisition of Puig, a Cuban defector who landed a staggering seven-year, $42 million deal despite a sketchy professional background on the island nation.
While other clubs have expressed skepticism over Puig's talent, new Dodgers ownership felt the signing was necessary to re-establish the franchise's presence on the international market. As the top prospect in the system, Puig ranks 76th in the Top 100.
Dodgers scouts love Puig's light-tower power swing and athletic actions. Teammates and opponents have questioned his maturity. Club officials acknowledge Puig is rough around the edges, having missed the 2011 season when he was suspended by Cuba for a failed defection attempt. He projects as a corner outfielder and will open the season at Double-A if he shows in Spring Training that he's ready.
Lee, 78th on the Top 100, might lack Puig's high ceiling but makes up for it with all the intangibles Puig lacks. Lee, paid $5.25 million to abandon a career as a quarterback at LSU, has off-the-charts makeup, competitiveness and aptitude.
What he doesn't have that you'd want in a top pitching prospect is an overpowering pitch. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but he's learning how to miss the zone effectively and already has a full repertoire of pitches that he knows how to mix.
Lee is athletic with a prototype pitcher's frame, and even if he isn't a right-handed Clayton Kershaw, he's the most likely arm in the system to join Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Ryu in the rotation long term. He spent part of last year at Double-A and will probably return there, as he's only 21.
Pederson, ranked No. 85 on the Top 100, has moved up the Dodgers' ladder off a 2012 season at Class A Rancho Cucamonga in which he was named the organization's position player of the year, rebounding from a disastrous 2011, when the 11th-round pick was demoted from low Class A to the Rookie League. The 20-year-old son of former Dodgers player Stu Pederson, the outfielder had to overcome a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder as a junior in high school, rehabbing without surgery.
Pederson is a grinder, a solid all-around player with no exceptional skill other than baseball instincts, and he will need to continue his improvement while tested at Double-A this year.