"It gives us an opportunity to continue to finish these players off and get them to be completed players, so that when they are ready to go to the big leagues, we're not in a hurry to rush them there," Dodgers farm director De Jon Watson said. "It buys us a little more time."
A little more time may be all the club needs, with a steadily improving farm system that projects a top five featuring a pair of arms that could make a significant impact down the road, and three bats filled with pop.
Offensively, it's Yasiel Puig atop our rankings. The Dodgers signed Puig out of Cuba for $42 million. Now, the 22-year-old outfielder is generating a ton of buzz for his power potential, though he struggled this winter in the Puerto Rican League. But Watson sees more than just home runs in Puig's future.
"You look at this guy's skill set, and his tools are pretty impressive," Watson said, noting Puig's speed as well. "It's going to be fun to watch him grow and develop this year. For him, it's about being selective and selective in the strike zone."
Joc Pederson and Corey Seager offer the Dodgers another pair of important young bats.
Seager will start the 2013 season at shortstop, though many have hinted third base will be the spot for him because of his size. That move most likely won't take place this season, but it may make more sense for the club down the road.
The Dodgers feel Seager, 18, has the athleticism and the approach such that a position shift would not mess with his progress. Offensively, Watson said Seager had one of the most advanced plate approaches of anyone coming out of high school in last year's Draft.
Pederson has hit just about everywhere he's been since being drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 Draft. This season should offer him a tougher test, however, as he is likely to make the jump to Double-A. Expect Pederson to spend most of his time in center field.
As for the arms, there's right-hander Zach Lee, whom the Dodgers managed to sign away from playing quarterback at LSU. Lee has four pitches that he can command and throw for strikes, but he lacks a go-to out pitch that could make him a top-level arm.
Chris Reed also made a splash when the Dodgers took him in the 2011 first round out of Stanford as a closer. They hoped he would be able to progress into a starter, and he certainly has three pitches with which to do so.
But Reed barely logged 70 innings last season. He's on track to start the 2013 season at Double-A, and it could be a vital year in his progression. At worst though, he projects as an impact lefty out of the 'pen.
"We're taking the reins off, and we're going to let him go out and compete," Watson said of Reed in 2013. "We'll see his skill set and how he matches up with the league. I think he's going to be one of those kids that really steps up to the opportunity."
Top 20 prospects
Puig, Lee, Pederson, Seager and Reed -- in that order -- mark the top five in our club prospect rankings this spring. But there's plenty more talent. The system has grown in depth, specifically younger guys who could make an impact down the road.
Onelki Garcia, a powerful left-hander, sits at sixth on the list, and with good reason. His fastball can touch the upper 90s, and if he can polish off his changeup, it would be a perfect complement for the heater.
Right-hander Matt Magill sits in seventh after a season in which his fastball velocity jumped about 4 mph, into the 90-95 range. The Dodgers are high on Magill not just because of his velocity, but also because of his poise, his competitiveness and his deceptive changeup.
The club also has three players who made their big league debuts last season cracking this spring's top-20 list -- catcher Tim Federowicz, lefty Paco Rodriguez and outfielder Alex Castellanos.
And the list doesn't include international signee Hyun-Jin Ryu because players who are least 23 years of age and have played as a professional in a league recognized by the Commissioner's Office for a minimum of five seasons are not eligible for consideration. The Dodgers committed more than $62 million to sign the 25-year-old Korean, who will slide into the middle of their starting rotation.
Under the radar
Although Jose Dominguez will miss the first 25 games of the season for a violation of the Minor League drug prevention and treatment program, he still possesses one of the most live arms in the Dodgers organization.
With a fastball in the upper 90s and a slider that bites, he has two put-away pitches. He will most likely start the season where he finished last year -- at Double-A Chattanooga.
Also worth keeping an eye on is catcher Chris O'Brien, who the club believes handles a pitching staff very well and has gap power.
Hitter of the Year: Pederson
With Puig still shaking off some of the rust, we'll go with Pederson here. There's plenty to like about Pederson, who hit .313/.396/.516 with high Class A Rancho Cucamonga last season. And he is still developing in his selectivity at the plate. Expect him to hone that in this season and piece together a big year.
Pitcher of the Year: Garcia
In his first full professional season, Garcia, 23, could make heads turn right away. Despite his size, velocity and strikeout numbers, he is not solely a power pitcher. The Dodgers are very impressed with his pitching smarts as well. The club selected him in the third round in last June's Draft.