Kershaw, Ryu, Puig headline Dodgers representation in Baseball America’s ‘Best Tools’ poll

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Baseball America recently polled managers from the MLB to A-ball, asking them to name the top players in their league in various categories. Players in the Dodgers organization were named 10 times throughout the poll, which actually is a bit disappointing, all things considered.

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At the highest level, Dodgers players were named six times by big-league managers, led by Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw was named the best pitcher in the National League, possessing the second-best curve (behind Adam Wainwright), and being tied for the second-best pickoff move with Clayton Richard (behind Julio Teheran). Rookies Hyun Jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig also landed on the list, with Ryu’s change being named as second-best behind Cole Hamels, and Puig’s arm checking in at third-best behind Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra. Additionally, Mark Ellis was named the third-best defensive second baseman behind Brandon Phillips and Darwin Barney.

Analytically speaking, Kershaw leads the NL in WAR when using the averaged components of RA/9 and FIP (5.6). Kershaw’s curve is the second-most valuable in the NL, trailing Jhoulys Chacin (Wainwright is fourth). Kershaw is tied for fourth in the NL in pickoffs with four, while Teheran leads with eight and Richard is tied for 20th at one.

As for the rest, Ryu’s change is the fifth-most valuable in the NL, behind Hamels, Jose Fernandez, Tim Lincecum, and Stephen Strasburg. Meanwhile, Puig already has five outfield assists in his abbreviated season (and should have two more if it weren’t for blown calls), while Gonzalez leads with 11. As for Ellis, using an average of DRS/UZR/FRAA metrics shows him to be a positive 2.6 runs defensively, which would rank around the top 6-7 in the NL.

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At AAA Albuquerque Isotopes, the lack of importance placed on the level by the organization seemed to show, as they were the only affiliate in the Dodgers organization without a representative on the list.

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The AA Chattanooga Lookouts representation was led solely by Joc Pederson, who garnered two mentions. One as the best defensive outfielder, the other as the most exciting player.

Understandably, much has been written about Pederson, who has a .275/.373/.474/.847 line as a 21-year-old in AA and has been called the best prospect in the system by some. Most importantly, the tools have scouts excited, though I am a bit surprised to see him grade out as the best outfielder in the league since there are questions about whether he can stay in center.

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At high-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Jonathan Garcia was named as the best outfield arm.

Garcia’s prospect star has faded following his peak in 2010, but he is having a resurgence this year, posting a .287/.337/.574/.911 line in high-A and earning a promotion. Unfortunately, he is struggling against advanced pitching to the tune of a .186/.245/.235/.481 line, but he’s still just 21.

His 12 outfield assists in 67 games (yes, really) at Rancho explain his rating here.

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Finally, at A-ball Great Lakes Loons, Scott Griggs was named the best reliever.

Griggs has always had nasty stuff, and as a 22-year-old college reliever in A-ball, he’s absolutely clowning. He has a 2.56 ERA and 2.67 FIP in 45.2 innings, but it’s the ridiculous 14.6 K/9 rate that has likely given him this recognition. He’s always had the stuff to succeed, but he’s likely still wandering around A-ball because he’s walking 6.5 batters per nine.

About Chad Moriyama

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