Monday, June 04, 2018

Welcome to the Blue, Caleb Ferguson!

We are all about to get a firsthand look at another Dodgers' starting pitching prospect. Last week it was Dennis Santana. This time around we will get to see 21-year-old 2014 draftee (38th round) Caleb Ferguson. He stands approximately 6' 3", weighs a hearty 215 lbs. and is a lefty. You can also follow him on twitter here: @Im_Ferg. BTW, Caleb started this season at Tulsa and was only promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City on May 26th. Now, he's heading to LA -- although, there is no official announcement yet. BTW, it was Ferguson's mom who made the unofficial announcement, via a tweet from Michael Duarte:

Caleb Ferguson's year so far has been fantastic. He has started eight games in Tulsa and went 3-0 with an 1.38 ERA, struck out 40 in 39 innings and walked just ten batters. Furthermore, batters were hitting just .217 against him and he had a WHIP of 1.05. Since being called-up to Oklahoma City he'd gotten into two starts, both being undecided decisions, has a 2.25 ERA and recorded twelve strike outs in eights innings. As for what he brings to the table, Ferguson is considered the best left-hander in the system. Jon Sickels at Minor League Ball ranked Caleb as the clubs 20th best prospect earlier this year:
Age 21, 38th round pick in 2014 from high school in Ohio, 2.87 ERA with 140/55 K/BB in 122 innings in High-A, 113 hits, very good numbers anywhere but especially so in Cal League; fastball can hit 94-95, shows a plus curve on the right day, change-up and command need more work; scouting reports aren’t as optimistic as the numbers but given age/performance and being a lefty, he should not be overlooked; I think he is qualified as a sleeper. ETA 2019. names him the 15th best prospects in the Dodgers system:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Ferguson had Tommy John surgery as an Ohio high school senior in 2014, yet that didn't deter the Dodgers from taking him in the 38th round and luring him away from a West Virginia commitment for $100,000. They didn't fully turn him loose until 2017, when he ranked first in ERA (2.87), second in opponent average (.246) and third in strikeouts (140 in 122 1/3 innings) in the high Class A California League at age 20. He stands out as easily the best left-hander in a system that has been short on southpaws since Julio Urias graduated to Los Angeles. 
Ferguson added velocity to his fastball last year, sitting in the low 90s and peaking at 95 mph, and hitters still had trouble squaring it up even though it didn't feature quite as much sink as it had in the past. He gets swings and misses with his upper-70s curveball, which can become a plus if he lands it in the strike zone more consistently. He's gaining more trust in a fading changeup that should be at least an average third offering. 
Though Ferguson's walk rate jumped from 0.7 per nine innings in 2016 to 4.0 last year, it should settle somewhere in between. He has the athleticism to repeat his delivery and grew more comfortable attacking hitters once he got accustomed to the hitter-friendly Cal League. If he can refine his command, he has a good chance to become a No. 4 starter.
David Hood at True Blue LA wrote this about Ferguson late last year -- ranking him the 20th best prospect on the Dodgers:
It’s been a fast rise for Ferguson from unheralded 38th round draft pick to the organization’s top left handed pitching prospect. Ferguson dazzled the California League in posting a 2.87 ERA over 122⅓ innings and striking out batters at almost a 27% clip. Ferguson should be a fixture in the Tulsa rotation in 2018, with the big league club potentially calling some time in 2019. 
Ferguson has one of the system’s best curveballs, a real big bender that he can vary the speed and break on. He will throw it to both left handers and right handers, and profiles as his best future strikeout pitch. His command of the pitch is also a plus considering the amount of break the pitch has.
In honor of his ascension to The Show I made two fantasy Baseball cards of him. Check those out above.

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