As more and more national prospect rankings pour in, a consensus is becoming clear among Dodgers. Bobby Miller is thought of as the team’s top pitching prospect heading into 2023.
Kiley McDaniel at ESPN unveiled his top 100 prospects in MLB on Wednesday, and ranked Miller No. 25 overall. The only Dodger prospect ahead of him is catcher Diego Cartaya.
That’s right in line with other top-100 (or 101) rankings. Miller was rated the No. 21 prospect by Baseball America, 24th by MLB Pipeline, 27th at Baseball Prospectus, and 28th by The Athletic. In all cases, he’s the top-ranked Dodgers pitching prospect.
We don’t have a FanGraphs top-100 list yet, but in their team prospect ranking, Miller was No. 2 overall, again behind only Cartaya.
It’s understandable why Miller is ranked so highly. The 6’5 right-hander, drafted by the Dodgers in the first round in 2020 out of Louisville, averaged 98 mph on his fastball last season, the highest velocity among the 28 pitchers in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects.
Miller last season had a 4.25 ERA in 112⅓ innings between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, with 145 strikeouts (a 30.9-percent strikeout rate) and 37 walks. In one of his four starts in Triple-A, Miller struck out 14 in six innings.
MLB Pipeline ranked Miller as the sixth-best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball.
But it’s the national rankings that caught my eye. Miller’s average rank at Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, MLB Pipeline, and The Athletic is 25th. That has Miller as arguably the fourth-best Dodgers pitching prospect since Clayton Kershaw fifteen years ago, at least when considering preseason rankings.
Dodgers recent top pitching prospects
Of this group, Walker Buehler was the most fully-formed pitcher at the time. That bore out with a 2.62 ERA in 137⅓ innings for the Dodgers in 2018, plus his scoreless gems in Game 163 and in the World Series as a rookie.
Julio Urías was the highest-ranked prospect of this group heading into his rookie season, and also the youngest. He made his major league debut in late May 2016.
Urías really is a unicorn, considering that even now he’s only 32 months older than Miller.
Outside of Urías with only two short starts in Oklahoma City the season before his debut, Buehler, Dustin May, and Miller all had roughly the same number of Triple-A innings the year prior, with May (34⅔ innings) and Buehler (9⅓ innings) also seeing time in Los Angeles.
Though May was the Dodgers’ opening day starter in 2020, that’s more of a technicality because (1) it was July 23, after the pandemic shutdown; and (2) May was an emergency call-up after Clayton Kershaw landed on the injured list.
With five established starting pitchers this year, including May, the Dodgers head into spring training with a fully-formed rotation, though we’ve seen over the last decade that pitching plans can change in a heartbeat, no matter the perceived depth.
Miller isn’t on the 40-man roster at the moment, but once he’s deemed ready that won’t hinder the Dodgers from calling his up. He’s likely to see time in the majors this season, and if he’s able to produce anywhere near what those other three pitcher have in the majors, the Dodgers will have another gem on their hands.