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Stone, Busch turn in monster years for Dodgers 

Scary deep talent pool could help maintain success in Los Angeles
Gavin Stone led all qualified Minor Leaguers with a 1.48 ERA across three levels this season. (Sugar Land Space Cowboys)
October 31, 2022

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A Oklahoma City: 84-66
Double-A Tulsa: 69-67 (first-half division winner)
High-A Great Lakes: 76-55 (first-half division winner)
Single-A Rancho Cucamonga: 68-64
DSL LAD Mega: 37-22 (division winner)
DSL LAD Bautista: 34-25
Overall record: 398-328 (.545 winning percentage, fourth among MLB organizations)

Dodgers Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Diego Cartaya

In what amounted to his first full season after dealing with injuries to his back and hamstring, one thing was readily apparent about the 21-year-old Cartaya.

“He just hits the ball really hard,” said Dodgers director of player development William Rhymes.

Cartaya, MLB Pipeline’s No. 8 overall prospect, had nearly as many extra-base hits as singles across two levels. Among Dodgers prospects with at least 300 plate appearances, the Venezuela native was one of only four with a slugging percentage better than .500 and OPS better than .890.

“For most of the year, he was statistically the best hitter in our organization,” Rhymes said. “He takes really mature at-bats, and I think controlling the zone well and hitting the ball hard is a really good foundation for someone who's 21.”

First base: Ryan Noda

In his second year with the organization, Noda bashed 25 long balls and recorded a career-best 20 steals -- making him the team's only 20-20 prospect this season. The 26-year-old also set personal highs with 90 RBIs and 86 runs scored and ranked among the best in the organization with a 16 percent walk rate, .395 on-base percentage and .870 OPS.

Second base: Michael Busch

The 2019 first-rounder had one of the best offensive seasons in the system, leading the organization with 151 hits, 38 doubles and 108 RBIs between Double-A and Triple-A and tying outfielder Jason Martin with 32 homers. He also finished tied atop the Minor Leagues with 118 runs scored.

“He continues to control the zone and walk and hit for a ton of power,” Rhymes said. “He knew he still had some things to work on before he's ready to be a big leaguer, and he just put his head down and worked and went out and completely dominated, so it was fun to watch.”

The Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect returned to Tulsa to open the season, a decision that Rhymes said had more to do with the organization's veteran depth in Oklahoma City than it had to do with Busch's readiness for Triple-A. He added that Busch absolutely “forced our hand” and earned a promotion quickly after posting a 1.112 OPS in the first 31 games of the year.

Third base: Miguel Vargas

For the fourth consecutive season since signing with the Dodgers out of Cuba in 2017, Vargas hit better than .300 with an OBP of at least .380. The 22-year-old’s .304 batting average was the best in the system among players with at least 300 plate appearances. Vargas earned his first big-league promotion in August and was on Los Angeles’ postseason roster.

“It's pretty special to see a guy come through our system and see it come full circle,” Rhymes said. “We have a lot of faith in his bat -- his ability to hit is special.”

The club’s third-ranked prospect set career highs with 82 RBIs and 100 runs scored while getting his strikeout and walk rates to a near perfect match. Rhymes also made note of Vargas’ increased speed, which was evident in his career-best 16 stolen bases.

Defensively, Vargas made his debut in the outfield with 23 games in left, but he mainly stuck at third base while seeing some time at first and second. In the Majors, he spent most of his time at first and in left field but got into one game at the hot corner.

Shortstop: Jacob Amaya

Like Busch, Amaya returned to Double-A to open the season after spending all of 2021 at Tulsa. Amaya also forced a promotion to Oklahoma City fairly quickly after drawing more walks (32) than strikeouts (29) and batting .264 with an .870 OPS for the Drillers.

“He hit the ball really hard -- all the expected numbers were significantly improved,” Rhymes said. “He walks a ton with great bat-to-ball skills and he's going to continue to evolve as a hitter, continue to hit the ball harder and harder.”

There was an adjustment period for the 24-year-old upon his arrival to the Pacific Coast League, but he hit .342 with a 1.008 OPS over the final 31 games.

“It was fun to see him come through like a midseason, not even struggles but just the adjustment period there and finish really strong,” Rhymes said.

The Dodgers’ No. 15 prospect set career highs with 17 homers and 124 hits while matching personal bests with 71 RBIs and 81 walks. Defensively, Amaya continued to show that he’s an above-average up-the-middle defender.

Outfield: James Outman

For a seven-game stretch in late August, Outman was simply the hottest hitter on the planet -- a span that featured two cycles, 19 RBIs, four triples and 16 total hits. It was the cherry on top of a tremendous offensive season that included his first big-league promotion.

“It's fun for us to watch this player evolve from college, where he was a little more raw, to now, where he is truly a skilled player in all aspects,” Rhymes said. “Continuing to watch him hit for average, get on base, and he's just turned into a good, pure hitter.”

The Dodgers’ No. 13 prospect also had nearly as many extra-base hits as singles, collecting 31 homers and doubles and seven triples. His .586 slugging percentage and .978 OPS were the best in the system.

“When it comes to picking up pitchers' tendencies or hitting or stealing bases or outfield positioning, this guy is really dialed into the process,” Rhymes said. "He's come tremendously far since we drafted him.”

Jason Martin

The well-traveled 27-year-old had the best year of his career in his ninth season. The previously mentioned 32 homers were a career high, and he set personal bests with 107 RBIs, 100 runs scored and 134 hits. Martin signed with the Dodgers as a Minor League free agent in November after spending 2021 in the Rangers organization. Prior to that, he spent five years with the Pirates, making his Major League debut in 2019.

Drew Avans

The 26-year-old showed off his speed and gap-to-gap power during his second season in Oklahoma City. He led the organization with 40 stolen bases and 12 triples while reaching career highs in hits (122), doubles (17) and runs scored (94). Avans’ 12 triples also tied with Rays prospect Mason Auer for the most in the Minors. He played the bulk of his games in center field for the first time in his career and recorded five outfield assists.

Right-handed starting pitcher: Gavin Stone

In what Rhymes described as a “dream season,” Stone not only had the best campaign among Dodgers pitchers -- a talented group that includes Bobby Miller and Ryan Pepiot -- he arguably had the best pitching season in the entire Minor Leagues.

“Gavin has one of the best changeups you'll ever see, and he’s just a pitch maker,” said Rhymes, noting that he tweaked his slider to better fit into his arsenal. “There's a lot of optimism that it will play at the next level. He's an incredible competitor, and he has really good stuff. He knows how to get outs and go deep into games”

Stone was the Minor League ERA leader with a 1.48 mark over 121 ⅔ innings across three levels. The 24-year-old also tied for ninth in the Minors with 168 strikeouts. He made as many starts in Great Lakes as he did Oklahoma City and actually had a better ERA (1.16) and opponent’s batting average (.161) and more strikeouts (33) at the higher level.

The Dodgers’ No. 7 prospect allowed more than two runs in just two of his 26 outings this season and posted 15 scoreless performances.

Left-handed starting pitcher: Ronan Kopp

Kopp took a nontraditional route to pro ball, earning notoriety in the debut of the MLB Draft League last year. The Dodgers took a chance on him in the 12th round, and Rhymes said the 6-foot-7 southpaw has shown the most improvement among anyone in the system since.

“His performance in Single-A was off the charts, relative to his peer group,” Rhymes said. “It's a big-time fastball. It's huge deception. It's an incredibly uncomfortable at-bat. His execution was really good. The fastball and slider were excellent. He's tweaked the split finger and the changeup and I think that'll continue to evolve.”

The Dodgers’ No. 17 prospect made 24 appearances with Rancho Cucamonga before earning a late promotion to Great Lakes. He finished the season with a 2.74 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 62 ⅓ innings while holding opposing batters to a .170 average. Only 11 of his 27 appearances were starts and just nine lasted longer than two innings. But that workload isn’t likely to define his future role.

Reliever: Carson Fulmer

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 Draft had his best season since his Minor League debut seven years ago. Fulmer posted a 2.86 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .177 average and striking out 62 over 56 ⅔ innings for OKC. The encouraging year showed there's still more left in the tank for the 29-year-old, who elected free agency after the season.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for