15) Zach Lee – RHP
Date of Birth: September 13, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’4″/210 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted first round (28th overall) in 2010
In 2010, the Dodgers drafted the seemingly unsignable Lee, who was heading to LSU to play quarterback, with the 28th overall pick. About $5 million later, he was a Dodger and his football career was over.
Lee has seen his stock drop pretty consistently since then. His ceiling has dropped from number-one starter to number-three starter, and his stuff has not developed the way the Dodgers had hoped.
Lee, who went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in his first taste of the major leagues in 2015, does not have the upside of most of the other pitchers on this list. But he is 24 years old now and has tasted the big leagues, so the time has come for him to be whatever he is going to be. That may be a third or fourth starter, but there’s real value in that role if he can do it well.
14) Mitch Hansen – OF
Date of Birth: May 1, 1996
Height/Weight: 6’4″/195 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted second round in 2015
Hansen has all the tools to be an excellent major league outfielder, possibly in center but more likely in one of the corner spots. At 18 years old, his 6’4″ frame still has a bit of filling out to do, and it is expected that with that bulk will come additional power.
The Dodgers paid Hansen $1 million to keep him from going to Stanford after drafting him in the second round, and they are very high on his potential. Power is probably his weakest tool, but also the one most likely to improve dramatically. Overall, he has the definite potential to be a five-tool player, and that potential earned him his paycheck coming out of high school in Plano, Texas.
Unfortunately, Hansen’s first experience in pro ball was less than stellar. In 167 plate appearances in the Arizona League, he hit .201/.281/.282 with just nine extra-base hits. He did steal six bases in seven attempts and play solid defense in the outfield, but there has to be some concern about his offensive production.
That said, Hansen’s tools make him an intriguing prospect, and he would not be the first player to struggle in his first shot in the minors and go on to a solid career.
13) Scott Schebler – OF
Date of Birth: October 6, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’0″/225 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted 26th round in 2010
Schebler is not young — he turned 25 in October. He was not a high draft pick — 26th round out of Des Moines Area Community College in 2010. Simply put, he is not the kind of player you expect to find on a list of top prospects.
But here’s the thing: Schebler can hit. In 2,472 plate appearances in the minors — roughly four full seasons worth — he has hit .272/.338/.490 with 87 homers, 117 doubles, and 54 triples. The triples also point to perhaps the most surprising aspect of his game: the stocky outfielder can run.
Schebler’s defense is not very good and his arm is weak, so there may not be much of a future for him as a starting outfielder. But whether it’s as a fourth outfielder in Los Angeles or as a designated hitter on some American League team, Schebler seems to have the skillset to make an impact in the big leagues sooner than later.
12) Chris Anderson – RHP
Date of Birth: July 29, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’3″/235 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted first round (18th overall) in 2013
Anderson has the raw stuff to be an outstanding pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, has touched 98 at times, and is nearly impossible to hit due to its late sink and the downward plane in his delivery. The main question is whether he will be a starter or a reliever, and the answer to that lies in how well he can develop his secondary pitches.
Anderson has a slider and a changeup, both of which have shown potential to be plus pitches for him. If he can develop both into reliable offerings, he could be a top-of-the-rotation starter. If he remains heavily dependent on his heater, he’s more likely to be a dominant closer.
All things considered, a downside of “dominant closer” is pretty impressive in a prospect.
11) Walker Buehler – RHP
Date of Birth: July 28, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’2″/175 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted first round (24th overall) in 2015
Buehler has not yet made his professional debut because he had Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted and signing with the Dodgers. Realistically, his first pro action won’t come until 2017, at which point he will be 22 years old.
That said, there is a lot to be excited about with Buehler. His best pitch is his mid-90s fastball, but he also shows a curveball, slider, and changeup that are all above-average pitches.
The Dodgers took a risk on Buehler, picking him despite knowing that he needed elbow surgery. The upside was that they got him for much less money than he would have commanded when healthy, and if he can return to form he will be a huge bargain.
Before his elbow injury, Buehler had always been durable, and his delivery does not have any red flags. As far as Tommy John recipients go, Buehler is among the most likely to return to form. It will just take some patience.