COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Dodgers have several prospects that some are arguing are major league-ready -- but don't expect to see any of them in Dodgers blue anytime soon.
Puig is the prospect that Dodgers fans are most excited about. He is a potential five-tool player and his torrid spring training -- where he hit over .500 -- had some wondering if he would make the opening-day roster.
The 52 PA that Puig has had in Class AA have been impressive -- a .346/.422/.631 line. But even before his stint on the 7-day DL with a sprained left thumb, there was little chance of Puig sniffing the major leagues anytime soon.
One reason is his position -- he is an outfielder with the potential to play center field. But with Matt Kemp patrolling center, Andre Ethier in right field and a rejuvenated Carl Crawford in left field, there just isn't any room for him.
Another is that Puig is having trouble hitting the breaking ball. This is likely because of Puig's lack of professional experience. The Cuban had played just 23 professional games before this season, and those were in the Arizona rookie league and Class A.
Puig needs more seasoning but if there is an injury to any of the three starting outfielders, Puig might get a cup of coffee.
But the center fielder is in the same situation as Puig in many ways. Three stars block the young star's path to the big leagues.
And young is the operative word. Pederson began the season as the second-youngest member of the entire Southern League. Pederson was able to have his first legal drink earlier this week -- he's that young. While he is hitting for high power in Class AA, he still likely needs some seasoning and will go through some ups and downs.
Not to mention a more pragmatic reason: Pederson isn't on the 40-man roster, so the Dodgers would need to remove someone from the 40-man roster to bring him up to the Dodgers.
When Zack Greinke went down for two months with a broken collarbone, there were whispers that the Dodgers should bring up their No. 1 pitching prospect.
When Chad Billingsley went down for the season, those whispers got a little louder. When spot-starter Stephen Fife struggled in his first outing, there were open questions about it.
But it isn't going to happen. Like Pederson, Lee is extremely young. Lee started the season as the fifth-youngest member of the Southern League, despite it being his second go-around in the league.
But through four games, Lee has been dominant.
Lee is 2-0 and has a sparkling 1.17 ERA -- thanks in large part to his ground ball percentage going up from years past and his flyball rate dropping while his K/9 is over 8.
Lee is just 21 and there is no need to rush the prized arm in the farm system and risk blowing out his arm. Not to mention Lee is far down the depth chart at this point. When Capuano comes back from the DL and Fife is sent back to Class AAA, Lee will be third in line (at best) to join the Dodgers.
Like Pederson, Lee is not on the 40-man roster.
And if Pederson and Lee join the major-league roster, they will start their arbitration clocks -- making a possible big payday for the top prospects come sooner rather than later. Even for a team with seemingly no spending limit, team control over prospects is still a concern.
So unless the season absolutely falls apart with injuries, don't expect to see any of these young prospects in Chavez Ravine anytime soon.
Matthew Reichbach is a freelance writer and lifelong follower of the Dodgers from their minor league affiliates to the major league club.
You can follow Matthew on Twitter at @3_2count.
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