At first glance, 20-year-old right-hander Zach Lee‘s 2012 minor league numbers are not impressive. In fact, they don’t appear to befit a player who was No. 49 on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List. Yet the 2010 first round pick (28th overall) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is coveted by other teams as Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline hours away.
The Marlins requested Lee be included in the deal for Hanley Ramirez, but instead the Dodgers sent 22-year-old right-hander Nate Eovaldi and a minor league pitcher. Now Los Angeles is discussing a deal with the Cubs that would send Ryan Dempster and perhaps Alfonso Soriano to the Dodgers.
Chicago prefers a top pitching prospects like Lee, Allen Webster and or Chris Reed, but Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus says those players are not going to be part of a potential Dempster trade.
The Dodgers are also said to be interested in getting Shane Victorino or Hunter Pence from Philadelphia. Not surprisingly, the Phillies would like one of the aforementioned pitching prospects in return.
According to MLB.com’s rankings, eight of the Dodgers’ top 10 prospects are pitchers, led by Lee, who posted a 4.55 ERA in 12 starts at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this season before receiving a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga, where he has a 7.92 ERA in six starts. Numbers don’t always accurately tell a prospect’s story as he continues his development in the minors. Lee has a fast ball that reaches the high 90s, a curve ball, a slider and a change-up. He throws all four pitches with excellent command.
The 22-year-old Webster, an 18th round pick out of high school in 2008, was rated the 95th overall prospect by Baseball America before the 2012 season. Boasting a sinker that touches the mid-90s, the right-hander induces a lot of ground balls. He also showcases a plus curve ball and change-up and like Lee, he possesses solid command. Webster has a 3.90 ERA in 22 games, including 17 starts, at Chattanooga this season.
A 22-year-old left-hander who was named to this summer’s Futures Game, Reed was a first round pick (16th overall) out of Stanford in 2011 and has a three-pitch mix (fast ball, slider and change-up) that he effectively commands. Also at Chattanooga, Reed has a 3.66 ERA in six starts.
Though the Dodgers are reluctant to trade any of their top three pitching prospects, they might have to part with one to land Dempster and Soriano from the Cubs, or Victorino or Pence from the Phillies. If they do, the pitching cupboard will not be bare as the Dodgers farm system also has Angel Sanchez (Single-A), Chris Withrow (Double-A), Ethan Martin (Double-A and a first round pick in 2008), Garrett Gould (Single-A) and Juan Rodriguez (Single-A) as other arms who are among the organization’s top 10 prospects.