WELCOME TO THUNDERDOME
Thus far, the Dodgers 2021 MLB season has been a bit bumpy. They began the year hot from the start and to the fans’ delight. Then, Los Angeles suddenly found themselves mired in a 20 game slump, losing 15 of 20. At present, the season feels like it’s leveling itself back up to normalcy. However, one thing remains obvious. In a year when injuries throughout baseball are at unprecedented levels, the Dodgers too, have fell victim to the injury-ladened year that is.
After signing Trevor Bauer in the offseason, the team will need reinforcements on ‘the cheap,’ and fast. Luckily for Los Angeles, few players are traditionally cheaper and easier to sign than the prospects in their own farm system. Therefore, I’ve curated a shortlist of Dodgers prospects who’ve already found immense success at the higher levels of Minor League Baseball. I believe that, given each player’s unique and individual skillset, these three names will help the big league club immediately, short-term, and into the long-term. In other words, the quicker they’re promoted, the better.
Without further ado, allow me to reintroduce the three players. Please sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Michael Busch, 2B – Double-A Tulsa (T/R H/L)
The Los Angeles Dodgers currently have 14 different utility players rostered, therefore the 15th utility man will fit perfectly.
I kid, of course. However, with the way that baseball has changed – in only 5 years – “positionless” baseball is becoming the norm amongst organizations who appear more “progressive.”
The Dodgers definitely fit that mold and Michael Busch is, therefore, a perfect fit, especially for manager Doc Roberts, who plays the ‘mad scientist’ role to a “T.”
Continuously flipping the batting order upside-down and inside-out, it’s like he’s playing the sport’s version of Roblox. Except this game is real.
Before I drag out my ladder and hoist myself atop my 30′ soapbox, allow me to pivot.
Michael Busch’s makeup, position eligibility, and hitting prowess, all make him the next candidate to join the Roberts game show, “Who’ll Play 1st Base Today??”
And he wouldn’t just compete, he’d excel.
LET’S TALK NUMBERS
Try to remember that Michael Busch was drafted in the 1st round of the 2019 Draft, out of UNC. I compared him to a young Chase Utley with more power and less speed in my 2021 Top 50 Dodgers Prospects article earlier this year, and he made a strong debut, residing at #4 on my list.
In his first taste of AA, with little-to-no professional experience behind him, Busch’s numbers already reside atop of the proverbial mountain.
Thus far in AA-Tulsa this year, Busch has slashed .259/.388/.541 with 6 HR, 18 R, 7 doubles, 48 total bases (TB), 13 RBI, a 2:1 K/BB ratio, and one stolen base.
Putting those numbers into perspective, Michael Busch and his 2021 performance have lived amongst Double-A’s elite.
Only the white-hot Nick Pratto carries (throughout AA) overall numbers greater than Busch.
Pratto (lest we forget) has had 3+ years more reps with the Royals organization.
In short Busch, the fluid-swinging and hit-first lefty already looked ready back in 2019.
Today, he is ready. Bring him up.
Ryan Pepiot, RHP – Double-A Tulsa (T/R H/R)
Andre Jackson, RHP – Double-A Tulsa (T/R H/R)
PEPIOT – I decided on two pitchers in lieu of one because I have a feeling that the latter, Jackson, could be thrown into the bullpen.
Devil’s advocate, imagine another one of our oft-injured pitching staff falls, both of these pitchers can help immediately now, into the near, and the far future.
I know great stuff and talent when I see it.
I listed the changeup master Pepiot at #6 in my Dodgers Top 50 Prospects.
Drafted from Butler in the 3rd Round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Pepiot’s a pitching coach’s dream.
Proof of Pepiot’s high-ceiling lay apparent in his numbers at AA thus far.
Through only 15.1 IP, Pepiot’s punched out 22 hitters this year. Sporting a 1.17 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP, the Butler product is in complete control while on the hill.
Undoubtedly, Ryan Pepiot should be the fastest riser within the Dodgers organization.
He has every chance to be the next great starting pitcher amongst a litany of already great starters at Chavez Ravine.
JACKSON – Andre Jackson has (perhaps) an even better opportunity to reach the bigs as (if you will) a utility pitcher.
Filling in here and/or there, Jackson’s repertoire travels well due to his top-notch stuff, spin-rate, coachability, and velocity.
Currently growing into his role as a starter throughout AA thus far this year, the expectation still exists that – if he keeps up his stuff – he can thrive as a starter or as a reliever, to get his foot in the door.
His numbers at AA this year speak to the high upside I wrote about in my Dodgers Top 50 Prospects article where I listed him at #30.
Jackson has thrown 7 more innings than Pepiot in 2021, further implicating his potential as a starter. He’s accumulated 26 strikeouts through those 21 innings pitched.
His ERA thus far is 3.43. His WHIP (perhaps a direct arrow pointing “up” to his ability to keep bases unoccupied) sits at a minuscule 0.71.
That tiny WHIP has been bested by only Grayson Rodriguez (perhaps currently the best pitcher in the Minors).
IN THE END
Defending a championship in modern-day sports is nearly impossible.
However, the Dodgers organization is perfectly built to accommodate nearly every possible lull around every possible corner, that any season can potentially bring.
In fact, the Dodgers seem to excel while other organizations falter, especially when the adversity they’re destined to face can feel unwavering at times.
This year will be no different.
The Dodgers will eventually have to lean upon a few different rookies in 2021 if they plan on bringing another championship back to LA and its fans.
Luckily for Dodgers fans, there’s always a new fleet of young talent waiting in the wings, to prove themselves as the ‘next big thing.’
These three players are the latest examples of the Dodgers doing exactly what they do: enhance their draftees from amateurs into big leaguers, waiting in the wings if needed to bring back some hope and (fingers crossed) the trophy.