The future success of every Major League team lies
largely in its Minor League pipeline. With that in mind,
MLB.com is looking at the top 10 prospects from each farm
system, with only those who still maintain rookie status
entering 2011 being eligible.
Any kid who plays baseball dreams of one day making it to
the big leagues. The ultimate, of course, is achieving that
with the hometown team.
That's exactly what Dodgers outfielder Trayvon Robinson is
on the cusp of doing. Robinson, now 23, grew up in Los
Angeles and was drafted back in 2005 out of Crenshaw High
School. There's no question the thoughtful center fielder
has let the concept of playing in Dodger Stadium enter his
mind a time or two.
"I think about it all the time, every time, before I go to
sleep," said Robinson, the No. 4 prospect on the Dodgers'
Top 10 list. "But I can't turn it into pressure. I just have to go out and do my thing."
Robinson may have learned that the hard way in 2010.
Following a breakout '09 season, Robinson was added to the
40-man roster. That made his dream of playing in his
backyard seem much closer. It also made him try to do too
much. He hit .224 over his first month with Double-A
Chattanooga. He caught himself, made some adjustments and
went on to perform much like he had the previous year,
finishing with a .300 average, .404 on-base percentage and
"I was worrying about a lot of stuff that was going on in
Los Angeles," Robinson admitted. "I'm worrying about the
big league club and, at one point, I said, 'You know what?
I'm in Tennessee. There's nothing I can do. I just need to
go out and play.' I put a little bit of pressure on
"All this stuff happened in 2009. In November, I was put on the 40-man roster. When April came, I started thinking about LA. Around May, I said, 'You know what, I'm out of control. It's nothing I can control.'"
It's a lesson he's taken with him to Arizona this spring.
Ready for the step up to Triple-A, Robinson is now the
proverbial phone call away from living his dream. Perhaps
without his rough start to 2010, he'd come in this spring
trying to make the big league club with every at-bat. After
fighting through that a year ago though, he's a little more
prepared to roll with whatever comes his way.
"Whatever happens, happens," Robinson said. "It's out of my
control. Everybody's dream is to break with a big league
team out of Spring Training, but I'm going to ride the wave
wherever it takes me."
Dodgers' Top 10
1. Dee Gordon, SS: Gordon came in at No. 44 on
MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects rankings and was the No. 4 rated
shortstop prospect in baseball. Tom Gordon's son is a
terrific athlete with plus speed that makes him a big
base-stealing threat and helps him defensively, as well. He's
still not polished at short, but he's got the tools to be a
premium leadoff hitter in the future. He'll move up to
Triple-A to refine his skills and wait for that first
2. Ethan Martin, RHP: Just outside the top 50,
Martin's stock has slid a bit, largely because of a lack of
command. His walk rate, which wasn't great in his first
season (5.5) went up to 6.4 per nine innings in 2010. But
he's still only 21 and has a great arm, one that can throw
plus fastballs and curves along with an evolving changeup.
If he can get in a groove -- even if it means repeating a
level -- he still has a very high ceiling.
3. Rubby De La Rosa, RHP: When a guy hits triple
digits on the radar gun, regardless of the level, people are
going to notice. De La Rosa did that in the Midwest League
last year, eventually got promoted two levels to Double-A
and pitched well there. His slider and changeup aren't as
good as the fastball, but they're getting there. If they
continue to improve, he could pitch near the top of the
rotation. If not, a life in short relief wouldn't be so
4. Trayvon Robinson, OF: Yes, Robinson still strikes
out a bit too much for a leadoff hitter (143 in 2009; 125 in
2010), but he's also improved his plate discipline and
learned to draw more walks (73 in 2010 for a career high
on-base percentage). With 85 steals the past two seasons, he has the speed
to be a catalyst and could help out in Los Angeles before
this season is over.
5. Zach Lee, RHP: No one except the Dodgers thought
they'd sign Lee, their first-round pick last June. A big quarterback recruit, he was actually on LSU's campus, working out when
the deal was done at the deadline. Two-sport stars often are
a little behind, but Lee has all the makings of a front-line
starter with a plus fastball and breaking ball while showing
a feel for a changeup. He's very athletic and brings a
football-like competitiveness to the mound. He could go
straight to full-season Great Lakes to make his debut.
6. Chris Withrow, RHP: Like Martin, Withrow's arm and pure stuff still excite the Dodgers. He's got a plus
fastball and curve and he's still developing his changeup.
Command issues, stemming largely from mechanical problems,
certainly held him back. He'll be just 22 this season, so
repeating Double-A really won't set him back at all. If
things come together, he could still be the starter the
Dodgers envisioned when they took him in the first round of the 2007 Draft.
7. Allen Webster, RHP: In his first taste of
full-season ball, Webster was a Midwest League All-Star,
tying for the league lead in wins and finishing third in ERA (he led all Dodgers farmhands in both categories). He's got
a solid three-pitch mix and has good command of all of them.
He may not have the ceiling of the other right-handers on
this list, but he might be the safest bet to become a
big-league starter. He'll move up to the hitting-friendly
California League to start 2011.
8. Kenley Jansen, RHP: A catcher who couldn't hit
but could throw, Jansen moved to the
mound in the middle of the 2009 season. The results, to say the least, have been astounding. He went from the California League to the big leagues in 2010 and dominated big league
hitters with a plus-plus fastball and a slider that can be
plus at times. He's got future closer stuff and will learn
under Jonathan Broxton's wing for now.
9. Jerry Sands, 1B/OF: It took him two summers to get
to full-season ball, then he hopped on a faster track, going
from Class A right up to Double-A over the course of 2010.
Along the way, he bashed 35 homers, third in the Minors. The
power is legit, and he's become a much better all-around
hitter. He runs well for his size and has shown he can man
first base or an outfield corner. He could be ready for LA
by next year.
10. Scott Elbert, LHP: It hasn't been a particularly
straight path for the 2004 first-rounder, but Elbert does
look poised to contribute full-time in Los Angeles. He
actually left the game for a spell last year but came back
and then threw well in the Arizona Fall League. He still has
power stuff from the left side and while he's largely been a
starter in the Minors, he should help the Dodgers bullpen in
Under the Radar
Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF: Taken in the 12th round of
the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of New Mexico,
Cavazos-Galvez won Pioneer League MVP honors his first
summer, though he was an "old" 22 at the time. He moved to
full-season ball last year and was a Midwest League
All-Star, albeit one who turned 23 in May. He could put up
big numbers in the California League, perhaps starting to
push a little faster up the ladder.
Ivan De Jesus, SS/2B: He fell off the map after a
broken leg forced him to miss all but four games of the 2009
season. He hit well in Triple-A in 2010 while playing both
middle infield positions, then continued to play in the
Arizona Fall League and in Puerto Rico. He even played some
third this fall and winter, increasing his value as a
utility man who could help in the Majors at some point in 2011.
Hitter of the Year -- Jerry Sands, 1B/OF
Really going out on a limb, picking the guy who won the
honor last year. But Sands will prove 2010 was no fluke,
once again challenging for the Minor League lead in home
runs while also driving in plenty and hitting for a decent
Pitcher of the Year -- Allen Webster
Just like Sands, Webster will make it two in a row, showing
that he has no problem with the California League and
earning a promotion before the season's end, all while
leading the system in ERA.
Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.