GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When the Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations acknowledged that Job No. 1 was to win a World Series. But he quickly added that he would balance the occupational imperative with a sustainable model reliant on a robust farm system.
Job No. 1 remains elusive, but check the box on the sustainable model part. To a large extent, Friedman has only dabbled in free agency while the Dodgers’ farm system is stocked and loaded, as evidenced by MLB Pipeline ranking the Dodgers farm system as the third best in the game. And, they’ve placed in the top 10 in each of MLB Pipeline's biannual farm system rankings ever since they began five years ago.
Lux, May and catcher Will Smith came from the 2016 Draft, which may go down as the most productive since the Dodgers’ legendary 1968 Draft put 11 players in the Major Leagues.
Lux might open the season as the starting second baseman in Los Angeles, and he’s considered by many as the leading contender for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. May would be considered similarly, if not for a strained oblique muscle that has ruined his Spring Training. He’s likely to be managed carefully initially so he can be a second-half weapon.
The Dodgers' No. 6 prospect Tony Gonsolin, a $2,500 bonus bargain from that 2016 Draft, is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he will be in the rotation and one text message away if the Dodgers have a starting need.
One of the most impressive prospects in the current camp is Graterol, who was the focus of all the drama in the Mookie Betts trade. Originally headed from Minnesota to Boston, Graterol’s history of a shoulder impingement last year (he’s also had Tommy John surgery) prompted the Red Sox to balk.
The Dodgers reworked the trades and wound up with Graterol, who has flashed triple-digit heat and big league command, despite a heavy body and crossfire mechanics. He’s only 21, so like May, management is bound to treat him gingerly early in the season so he’ll be a factor late.
And yes, there are more. No. 16 prospect Dennis Santana has probably shown the most improvement in the past year as any young Dodger, crediting physical and emotional maturity for putting him in position to contend for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, according to manager Dave Roberts.
No. 18 prospect Edwin Ríos, a legit hitter working to find a position, will probably go down to the wire battling for a Major League bench job. No. 20 prospect Zach McKinstry, a 33rd-round pick in 2016, has already been reassigned to Minor League camp, but while in big league camp only boosted his chances to be the first callup if the Dodgers need a left-handed hitting version of utility men Enrique Hernández and Chris Taylor.