Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system. MLBPipeline.com will be visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- No organization has three higher-ranked prospects than the Dodgers do with shortstop Corey Seager (No. 7 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 list), left-hander Julio Urias (No. 8) and outfielder Joc Pederson (No. 14). Though they tend to dominate talk about Los Angeles' farm system, there's plenty of intriguing talent beyond the big three.
Right-hander Grant Holmes and outfielder Alex Verdugo -- the Dodgers' top two picks in last June's First-Year Player Draft -- had strong debuts. Righties Jose DeLeon and Zach Bird had breakout 2014 seasons. Infielder/outfielder Darnell Sweeney and outfielder Scott Schebler continued to perform at a high level in the upper Minors.
"Our group of young talent has been overlooked because of the names everyone mentions," Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler said. "We have talent and depth in the system. There are a lot of guys that no one talks about who have very impressive packages and are super-talented and worth watching."
Pederson has nailed down the center-field job that was his to lose by hitting .409 with team highs in home runs (four) and RBIs (nine) this spring in 18 games. Sweeney and Schebler were nearly as impressive before getting sent to Minor League camp a week ago.
Sweeney, who led the Double-A Southern League with 88 runs and 77 walks a year ago, went 8-for-19 (.421) with two homers in 14 big league games prior to his reassignment. Schebler, who topped his leagues in extra-base hits and total bases in each of the past two seasons, went 8-for-26 (.308) with four doubles and two homers in 15 contests.
"Both of them are extremely talented," Kapler said. "Schebler came in tremendously prepared, and he strikes the ball with as much force as anyone in our big league camp. Sweeney's ability to get to the ball down in the zone and drive it into the gaps or out of the park, even to the opposite field, is impressive."
Catcher Julian Leon drew little attention during his 2013 pro debut, but that began to change last year when he hit .332/.420/.565 as an 18-year-old in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Scouts say his power is for real, though his throwing, receiving and blocking skills will need a lot of refinement.
"I love the way his hands work in the batter's box," Kapler said. "He has really loose hands and a good path to the baseball. His defense is coming along, so we're pleased with that. He has a very advanced mindset and he's super mature for 19."
Like Leon, first baseman Cody Bellinger had a lackluster pro debut in 2013 and a strong rebound in the Pioneer League last summer, batting .328/.368/.503. The son of former big leaguer Clay Bellinger, he's a pure hitter who could grow into some power.
"He's strong and charismatic and has a lot of energy," Kapler said. "He has the ability to step into the batter's box and make quick adjustments. He's loose and athletic, and he's a superior defender."
2012 keeps looking better
Dodgers fans already remember 2012 fondly. Frank McCourt sold the franchise to Guggenheim Baseball Management in May. New ownership authorized an expensive trade for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in August, and they splurged on the free-agent signings of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu in December.
Beyond the Major League level, 2012 was also an outstanding year for Los Angeles in terms of signing amateur talent. Its Draft already has contributed three big league lefty relievers in Paco Rodriguez (second round), since-waived Onelki Garcia (third) and Daniel Coulombe (25th), and the best is yet to come. Seager (first round) is nearly ready after winning the Minor League batting title at age 20, Sweeney (13th) is a jack of all trades who's also close to contributing and Bird (ninth) pushed his fastball into the upper 90s at the end of last year.
The Dodgers already raked in plenty of talent on a foray into Mexico that summer. Following a tryout there in June, they signed Cuban defector Yasiel Puig to a $42 million contract that was questioned by many teams at the time and now looks like a huge bargain. They purchased Leon from the Mexico City Red Devils in July, then went back to the same club for Urias in August.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.