Zach Lee clocked in at #45, Nathan Eovaldi showed up at #70, and Allen Webster rounded out the trio at #74.
Statistically speaking: After missing a few weeks with a minor elbow issue, Lee got rolling. His second-half numbers — 3.20 ERA, .224 batting average against, 7.66 hits per nine innings and 2.37 walks per nine — were all improvements over his first half (3.60 ERA, .266 BAA, 9.33 hits per nine and 3.04 walks per nine).
Scouting report: As a football standout who was signed away from quarterbacking at Louisiana State University, Lee showed a more advanced feel for pitching than many anticipated during his first season of pro ball. He has a plus fastball that can touch the upper 90s when he needs it. His curve also shows glimpses of being a plus pitch, and he’s worked on a slider, giving him another outstanding breaking ball. He’s shown a good feel for a changeup and has shown the ability to command all four pitches. He gets high marks for his makeup and football-like competitiveness on the mound.
Upside potential: A frontline starter who might get there faster than initially thought.
Statistically speaking: The young right-hander improved in a number of areas in his third full season of pro ball. He saw a spike in his strikeout rate (8.7 per nine innings, up from 6.6 in 2010) and a huge drop in his hit rate (6.6, down from 9.9). That led to an overall drop in his WHIP, from 1.475 in 2010 to 1.184 last year.
Scouting report: Eovaldi had Tommy John surgery as a junior in high school, so the Dodgers brought him along slowly. But the gloves came off a bit in 2011, and he not only dominated in Double-A, but also pitched well when he was called up to Los Angeles in August. Eovaldi has a plus fastball that reaches the upper 90s. It has good sink and he throws it downhill to generate a good amount of ground balls. His breaking ball can also be a plus pitch at times. He throws a changeup as well, though it’s not as good as the other two. His walk rate did go up in the Minors in 2011 as well as in the big leagues, so command will be a key for him going forward.
Upside potential: Just 22 for all of 2012, he has the chance to be a very good starter very soon. If the command doesn’t improve, he has the pure stuff to excel in the bullpen.
Statistically speaking: While Webster struggled with his first taste of Double-A ball, he did improve in one category: His groundout/flyout rate jumped to 2.10, up from an already respectable 1.26 in the California League. That should come as no surprise, given his 1.86 rate in the GCL in 2008, 1.83 in rookie ball in 2009 and 1.28 during his 2010 full-season debut.
Scouting report: Webster elicits all those ground balls with a heavy, sinking fastball that runs into the mid-90s. Both his breaking ball and his changeup have the chance to be above-average. He has decent command of all three pitches, especially considering his age and his pitchability will only improve as he matures. The Dodgers have other righties in the system with more pure arm strength, but Webster could be the safest bet, after Zach Lee, to be a big league starter.
Upside potential: He’s not that far off from contributing, and his combination of stuff and command could allow him to be a No. 2 or 3 starter.