Midseason Dodger Prospects: Looking to the Future
It’s the All-Star Break, which means the Dodgers get a needed rest. In the downtime, let’s take a midseason look at how some Dodger prospects are doing this season, starting with the Triple-A team, Oklahoma City Dodgers.
Triple-A: Oklahoma City Dodgers
First up, the top Dodgers prospect according to MLB Pipeline is catcher Keibert Ruiz. Ruiz spent some time with the Big Club earlier this year in May where he had one hit in seven at-bats. Ever since he returned to Triple-A he’s been on fire, adding power to his already great hitting ability. He has a career-high in home runs already two months into the season. He’s currently hitting .300/.385/.620 and an OPS of 1.007. Even better for Ruiz, he’s walking more than he’s striking out. He’s a contact guy and that’s coming through. It’ll be interesting to see what the Dodgers do with him. They don’t need to trade him, but there’s no room currently for another catcher at the MLB level and Ruiz could probably net the Dodgers a good Major League piece this year.
Top pitching prospect Josiah Gray recently returned from the IL, so the Dodgers are still building him up. He pitched a scant eleven innings so far this season, but only gave up four hits, two runs, and two walks with 15 strikeouts. In his limited time, he looked good – generating a lot of weak contact with a high swing and miss rate. Once he’s built up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with the Dodgers big club since they have a need for starting pitching.
Double-A: Tulsa Drillers – Pitching
Right-hander Ryan Pepiot is making a strong case for best pitching prospect in the organization. The Dodgers brass have been high on him and he’s showing exactly why. A call-up to Triple-A should definitely be in the cards for Pepiot soon. So far this year, he’s pitched 45 2/3 innings and struck out 63. Interesting enough, he’s walked more batters than he’s given up hits. The walks are concerning, as he’s walking over four batters per 9 innings which equates to a 12% walk rate, but he’s shown the ability to limit hits and limit damage. He currently holds an ERA of 1.77 and batters are just hitting .122 against him. Looking forward to equally impressive second half from Ryan Pepiot.
The Dodgers protected righty hurler Andre Jackson in the rule 5 this past off-season and for good reasons. In 50 innings pitched, he struck out 63 batters. Opponents are hitting .209 against Jackson which isn’t bad. He’s great at striking out batter and not walking them. Jackson’s problem comes with the home run, giving up eleven of them so far this season. There’s potential there, the Dodgers just need him to put it together more consistently.
Double-A: Tulsa Drillers – Position Players
Infielder Michael Busch was highly touted coming into the season and but his career so far hasn’t gone as planned after a pitch plunked him in the forearm and he spend some time on the IL. Busch drew early comparisons to Max Muncy because of his plate discipline and high ability to draw walks. He’s definitely drawn walks, at a 16% clip which is incredible. He’s also struck out 29% of the time which is a bit high for his caliber but a jump from no season to Double-A could take some getting use to. Once he drops down the strikeout rate, he’ll be in a much better position. The quality of contact is still there even after the injury, the power will return. He just gets on base. Good things are on the horizon for Busch.
Miguel Vargas ranked as the Dodgers number 11 prospect coming into the season and he’s done nothing but cement himself in their top 10 next year. He could even overtake Kody Hoese as the Dodgers best third base prospect. Vargas wasn’t super highly regarded because he’s a third baseman who didn’t hit for power. But this year, at his age 21 season, his power has really come along. He hit 13 home runs so far after only hitting nine the previous two seasons combined. He walks less than he previously did, so that’s one area he could improve. But he’s really having a fantastic year. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him once Hoese returns from injury.
High-A: Great Lakes Loons
Bobby Miller was the Dodgers first round draft pick in 2020. This year, the RHP tossed in eleven games, going 36 1/3 innings, struck out 40 and walked 10. Opponents are only hitting .188 against him, so he’s pitched pretty well, although the last few starts have been a bit rocky for his standards. I’m sure he’ll bounce back. He routinely sits in the high 90’s and he mixes his pitches well. More impressive is the fact that he’s only given up one home run so far. Could a Double-A stint in the second half be in the cards for Miller? Wouldn’t surprise me.
Outfielder Andy Pages turned himself into quite the power hitter. He knocked 16 home runs in the first two months of the season. It’s been a struggle so far in July but prior to that he was on fire. While he’s got a pretty good walk rate, the strikeout rate is a bit high. But the Dodgers were expecting a power hitter of his caliber to strikeout 30% of the time especially at only 20 years old. He’s currently at 26% of the time if he can continue to lower it he’ll be in good shape. Defensively Pages is very good and could even play centerfield in a pinch. He’s got the best arm in the system. Dude has an absolute cannon out there. Pages is ahead of the curve and the Dodgers will continue to look for him to develop this well.
Low-A: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Diego Cartaya is seen as someone who will eventually be the best catcher among all the Dodgers catchers and it’s hard to see why he wont be. He draws walks at a high rate and hits for power with a smooth, fluid swing. The Quake keep him on a Buster Posey kind of schedule where he starts a few in a row then gets some days off. It keeps him fresh and killing it at only 19 years old. Diego is still probably at least three years away, so I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop. He’s hitting at a Will Smith rate while also being really good defensively. Seems like Cartaya is the real deal.