It’s been a terrible week of ups and downs in terms of whether or not there’s going to be a 2020 baseball season. One minute there’s hope and the next you have one side telling you the opposite. On top of it all, you have Rob Manfred who is gradually making his case for one of the worst, if not the worst commissioner in baseball. As we wait to see what this whole mess of negotiations brings us, let’s take a look at three Dodgers that Bleacher Report believes could be on the rise to becoming baseball’s next superstars whether it be this year or in 2021.
Honorable Mentions: Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Matt Beaty
While the three Dodgers listed above are talented in their own right, none of them have a cemented spot in the rotation or lineup, yet. While that could easily change and change this whole outlook, it’s safer that we go with three players that are locks for roles on the team that also have tremendous upside.
Catcher Will Smith
The Dodgers have stacked their farm system with intriguing catching prospects the past couple of years that have been headlined by Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz, and Diego Cartaya. Of course, Smith a product of Louisville was the first of the group to crack the big league roster late in 2019 due to the struggles of Austin Barnes. His debut was nothing short of specular as he produced .253 batting average with 15 home runs and 42 RBI for a 1.7 WAR in only 54 games.
One of the highlights of his debut year was being a part of a three-game streak of rookie walk-off home runs. Smith is no slouch on defense either as he racked up four defensive runs saved in the short MLB season that he had. There’s no doubt that he’ll be the primary backstop for the Dodgers moving forward which should give him plenty of opportunities to step his game even more.
Thanks to the unwillingness of the Boston Red Sox to take Grateral in the three-team deal that netted the Dodgers Mookie Betts and David Price, Graterol will now grace the Dodgers with his triple digits fastball. Graterol’s 2019 year in the Minnesota Twins farm started off strong with a 1.92 ERA in 61 innings across three levels. That kind of production was enough for the Twins to call him up and see what he can do up close. While he gave up five earned runs in only 9.2 innings of work he also struck out ten. Despite that he has added to the team’s postseason roster wherein his lone inning of work against the New York Yankees, he struck out two.
During Spring Training with the Dodgers this year he gave up one hit and struck out three in three-inning pitched. His shaky performance in 2019 at the big league level shouldn’t alarm fans as Buehler had similar results when he was first pulled up but quickly turned things around the following year. Graterol’s future seems to be destined for the bullpen which the Dodgers should have no problem with. They have plenty of starting pitcher depth and the lack of quality arms to pair with Jansen is thin.
The biggest and most hyped prospect to emerge from the Dodgers farm since Cody Bellinger in 2017, Gavin Lux may be the solution to the revolving door the Dodgers have had at second base for some time now. Lux took the Minor Leagues by storm hitting .347 in 113 games, which included a 50-game on-base streak, between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma. His defense also improved as he cut his errors down from 27 the previous year to only 13 in 2019. His performance earned him being named the 2019 Minor League Baseball Player of the Year.
Upon his first taste of Major League ball, Lux was able to hold his own with a .240/.305/.705 slash line in only 23 games with the club. He made the Dodgers postseason roster where he launched a home run to right field in his first postseason at-bat. Lux has the talent and maturity to improve his game the next time he takes the field. Before this season was put on hold, Lux was already being called the favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year. At of all three in this group, Lux has the highest ceiling and should no doubt blossom into one of the game’s biggest superstars.