The decisions the Dodgers made over the offseason reflect a youth movement going into the 2023 season. They’ll look to their arsenal of great young players including a bunch of homegrown pitchers, including 25-year old Ryan Pepiot, to continue to develop and impact the team at the major league level as early as this season. Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone and Pepiot are a few of the many other young talented Dodgers pitchers the Dodgers’ have their eye on at Camelback Ranch this spring training.
Pepiot’s electric fastball and lethal changeup combination propelled him to success in Triple-A last year. He’s now one of the top pitching prospects in the majors. The former third-rounder in the 2019 draft was rated the No. 55 prospect in the sport by Baseball America and 70th overall by MLB Pipeline.
The Dodgers’ starting pitching rotation looks solid going into the season with Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May slated into five spots. With all the previous injuries on the book for Gonsolin, May and Kershaw, the Dodgers will likely look to Pepiot and their other young arms this season.
Pepiot seems to have some extra pep in his stuff this spring. The Dodgers right-hander threw a live batting practice session Wednesday at Camelback Ranch. Juan Toribio, on the ground in Arizona for MLB, noted his observation that teammates, including Miguel Vargas, were impressed with Pepiot’s stuff.
“Nasty,” said second baseman Miguel Vargas as he watched Pepiot from the dugout. “Look at that changeup.”
Toribio’s article also noted Pepiot has been working on the refinement of his slider he learned from Blake Treinen, and he has a goal of being more efficient. Early takes around camp is that Pepiot’s fastball velocity is up and his changeup looks good. He’s still working on his slider, which will help against left-handed hitters.
Pepiot will get his first spring test on Monday, starting against the Padres in Peoria.
Pepiot’s search for consistency started in the minors. In 2021, he had a Jekyll and Hyde type season. He excelled in Double-A but flopped in Triple-A. He went 2-5 with a 7.13 ERA and disastrous 1.800 WHIP, allowing 41 runs in 41⅔ innings pitched with Oklahoma City.
Pepiot started his 2022 season in Triple-A, bouncing back and forth between OKC and Los Angeles throughout the duration of the long season. He was shuttled back and forth so much, he used up his maximum five options for the year.
Bouncing back from his disappointing showing in Triple-A in 2021, Pepiot went 9-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 19 Triple-A games (17 starts) in 2022. Through 91⅓ innings pitched, he struck out 114 batters good for a 30.9-percent strikeout rate.
Despite the inconsistent opportunities, he was able to go 3-0 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.459 WHIP in nine appearances with the big club in 2022. It’s a small sample size, but Pepiot did struggle with his command in the nine games he pitched in with the Dodgers last year. He finished the season averaging 6.7 walks per nine innings with a 16.9-percent walk rate through his first 36 ⅓ innings pitched in Dodger blue.
Pepiot retains his rookie status with 22 days of service time. He is currently on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and has two option years remaining. Barring an injury to one of the projected opening day starters, Pepiot likely could start the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City’s rotation.
The Dodgers have plenty of starting depth at the ready going into the new season. Any scoffing at management’s lack of big moves this offseason will surely be forgotten when their faith in their homegrown talent pays off. Following prospects through their journey from the minors to the majors is one of my favorite parts of baseball. Pepiot, along with a plethora of other exciting young players have the stage this spring and have the opportunity to win a role on the big club this season.