Five of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top 30 prospects (as ranked by Baseball America) will start the season with the Great Lakes Loons, according to a report by Dodgers beat writer J.P. Hoornstra.
Hoornstra posted the season-opening rosters for the Dodgers’ four full-season minor-league teams Friday night. (You can see them all here.) The five ranked prospects included on the Loons list are RHP Jordan Sheffield (No. 12), RHP Dustin May (No. 13), catcher Keibert Ruiz (No. 20), infielder Oneil Cruz (No. 27) and outfielder Cody Thomas (No. 29).
Sheffield returns to Great Lakes after making seven regular-season starts and pitching in the playoffs for the Loons last year. According to Baseball America, Sheffield “has outstanding arm speed on a fastball that sits at 93-96 mph and can reach 98” and “has the repertoire to start, but his command, mechanics and medical track record create reliever risk.” (He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013.)
May pitched only 30.1 innings in the rookie-level Arizona League last season, but he posted an impressive 10.1 K/9 rate with 34 strikeouts and only four walks, to go along with a 3.86 ERA. BA projects him as a mid-rotation starter if he adds weight and strength as anticipated.
Ruiz batted .374 and drove in 48 runs in 56 rookie-level games last season. He doesn’t have much power — he hit only two home runs — but he consistently makes contact, striking out only 27 times in 245 plate appearances.
Cruz batted .294 in 55 games in the Dominican Summer League last year, and will make his U.S. debut with the Loons. He played shortstop and third base, but may end up moving to the corner outfield because of his size. BA says the 18-year-old has the potential to hit 20-plus homers as he gains more experience.
Thomas batted .276 with 16 HR and 44 RBI in 52 games in the rookie-level Pioneer League last season, but is still considered raw for his age (22). His power is considered the best part of his game at this point.
The defending Midwest League-champion Loons have a new manager this year. You can read about him and his coaching staff here.