5) Grant Holmes – RHP
Date of Birth: March 22, 1996
Height/Weight: 6’1″/215 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted first round (22nd overall) in 2014
Despite being only 19 years old, Holmes is probably as filled out as he is going to get. At 6’1″ and 215 pounds, there’s not much room for projection there.
But that’s okay, because projection is for people who need to grow. Holmes occasionally hit 100 MPH as a high schooler in South Carolina, and he generally sits in the 93-95 range as a starter. Beyond the velocity, Holmes has a lot of movement on his heater and commands it very well.
Holmes is not a one-pitch pitcher, though. He has a breaking ball that breaks like a curve but has the low-80s velocity of a slider. He also has a solid changeup that should develop into an average or better third pitch for him.
Holmes will be 20 in March, and he figures to be ready to contribute in the big leagues by age 22.
4) Jose Peraza – 2B
Date of Birth: April 30, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’0″/180 lbs.
Acquired: Trade with Atlanta Braves in 2015
On the 20-80 scouting scale, it is rare to ever seen an 80 grade on any particular tool, especially for a prospect. Giancarlo Stanton has 80-grade power. Aroldis Chapman has an 80 fastball. Beyond that, scouts generally top out at 75 to hedge their bets a bit.
Peraza has at least 75-grade speed. He is never going to hit many home runs — just nine in about three full seasons worth of minor league plate appearances — but he uses his speed to the best of his ability, putting the ball in play and making things happen with his legs. His 63 doubles, 33 triples, and 210 stolen bases tell a big story about what his speed can do.
Peraza was originally a shortstop, but the Braves moved him to second base because they had Andrelton Simmons at short. Simmons is out of the way, but the Dodgers have Corey Seager at short, at least for now. Peraza’s arm isn’t weak, but it probably plays better at second base anyway.
Peraza is a very good hitter and a very good fielder, and his speed is at the top of the charts. He made a splash in the big leagues this summer before being sidelined by a hamstring injury. It seems likely that he will get the chance to be the right-handed half of a second-base platoon with Chase Utley.
3) Jose De Leon – RHP
Date of Birth: August 7, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted 24th round in 2013
De Leon was the 724th player picked in the draft in 2013, and he put up a 6.96 ERA in 53 innings that summer. De Leon then got serious about his mechanics and conditioning, and things have taken off for him.
In 2014, De Leon put up a 2.22 ERA in 77 innings between Ogden in the Pioneer League and Great Lakes in the Midwest League. He followed that up with a 2.99 ERA in 114.1 innings between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in 2015. Between the past two seasons, he has 282 strikeouts in 191.1 innings, a ridiculous 13.3 K/9 rate.
De Leon’s fastball sits in the mid-90s, and his low-80s slider generates a lot of swings and misses. In addition to those two, he has refined his changeup to where it may be his second-best pitch.
With a legitimate three-pitch arsenal to attack hitters with, De Leon has the potential to be a frontline starter as soon as 2017. Look for him to split 2016 between Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City before joining the Dodgers in September, if not sooner.
2) Julio Urias – LHP
Date of Birth: August 12, 1996
Height/Weight: 6’2″/205 lbs.
Acquired: International Free Agency in 2012
To really appreciate Urias and how special he is, take a look at the “AgeDif” column in those embedded stats above. That column tells you how his age compared to his competition in each given league. In 2013, he had a 2.48 ERA as a 16-year-old in a league that averaged 5.8 years older than him. In 2014, it was 2.36 in a league 6.1 years his elder. In 2015 in Tulsa, his ERA was 2.77 against competition 6.4 years older.
Yes, he had two bad games in his first taste of Triple-A to end the season. What do you think represents the real Urias, though: his 2.60 ERA across 218 innings, or 4.1 bad innings?
Urias will play most of the 2016 season at age 19; he doesn’t turn 20 until August. (He was born exactly two years after the 1994 strike started, if you need another frame of reference for his youth.) His mid-90s fastball is his best pitch, but his curveball and changeup are both outstanding offerings, too. If there’s one knock on him as a pitcher, it is his control, which is not surprising for a teenager. But even his 3.0 BB/9 is more than evened out by his 10.7 K/9.
When you see Urias up close, you would never guess how young he is. He is big and thick and seems fully grown, and he carries himself with a maturity that belies his age and language barrier.
Urias could make his big-league debut before he turns 20 on August 12, depending on his progress in 2016 and the Dodgers’ pitching situation.
1) Corey Seager – SS
Date of Birth: April 27, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’4″/215 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted first round (18th overall) in 2012
Over the past couple years, the Dodgers had three untouchable prospects, guys they refused to trade in any deal. One of those, Joc Pederson, spent the entire 2015 season in the big leagues and got a taste of success, although he also got a major taste of failure with a dismal second half. Another was Urias, who has yet to spend time in the majors.
The third was Seager, the younger brother of Seattle Mariners All-Star third baseman Kyle Seager. By all accounts, the younger Seager is likely to eclipse his excellent brother as a ballplayer in short order.
Seager roared through the minors, playing at five levels (plus the majors) in just over three years since the Dodgers made him the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft. (Carlos Correa and Addision Russell, both shortstops who made huge impacts on playoff teams in 2015, were drafted ahead of Seager in that first round.)
Overall, Seager put up a .307/.368/.523 line in 1,704 minor-league plate appearances, dominating at every level. He followed that up with a .337/.425/.561 line in 113 September plate appearances in the big leagues in 2015.
The only question left for Seager is what position he will play. He is currently a shortstop, but he is bigger than you usually see at short. He seems likely to lose a step as he finishes filling out, and he will probably end up at third base like his big brother. By all accounts he should be an outstanding defensive third baseman, and his bat is more than good enough to play at the hot corner.
Seager was untouchable for a reason, and he will be in the Dodgers starting lineup somewhere on Opening Day 2016.