Five players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Los Angeles Dodgers prospects have been assigned to the Great Lakes Loons for the start of the 2015 season: RHP Grant Holmes (No. 5), outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 6), catcher Julian Leon (No. 11), RHP Jeff Brigham (No. 27), and RHP Brock Stewart (No. 28).
The Dodgers’ first-round draft pick last year, Holmes has a 90s fastball that peaks at 98 mph and should help him strike out a lot of batters. Baseball America says he is reminiscent of RHP Chad Billingsley and has “a chance to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter.”
Verdugo, a second-round draft pick of the Dodgers last year, was a pitcher and an outfielder in high school. L.A. has him playing outfield exclusively, mostly in center field, so he can concentrate on his offense. That decision has paid off so far, as he batted .353 with 3 HR, 41 RBI, 20 walks, and only 18 strikeouts in 54 rookie-level games last year. Baseball America says he has “good bat speed and a mature hitting approach. He makes consistent contact, recognizes breaking pitches, and doesn’t chase much out of the zone, which makes him a threat to hit for a high batting average and draw plenty of walks.”
Leon, a catcher from Mexico, significantly improved his offense from 2013 (.247 in 26 games) to 2014 (.332 in 63 games). Both seasons were spent at rookie level, which means the Loons are his first full-season assignment.
Brigham posted a 3.58 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 16 walks in 33 IP for the rookie-level Ogden Raptors last year. Although he started 10 of the 11 games he pitched in, the 23-year-old flamethrower is projected by Baseball America to be a reliever because of his medical history (Tommy John surgery in 2013) and no track record of durability.
The Loons have six players returning who spent part or all of last season on the team: RHP Kyle Hooper, first basemen Justin Chigbogu and Josmar Cordero, infielders Faustino Oguisten and Tyler Wampler, and outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo.