The start of the Dodgers season has highlighted the organization’s ability to consistently churn out major league talent. James Outman has gotten off to a sizzling start hitting .273/.367/.570 with eight home runs, and is one of the early favorites for Rookie of the Year. In addition, Miguel Vargas is a lineup regular, while Michael Busch and Gavin Stone each debuted this season.
Those names aside, there are multiple Dodgers prospects who are thriving and rising their stock in the minor leagues. Down below we are going to review three of those players and who might just become the next MLB star for the team.
Nick Frasso, RHP
Current level: Double-A Tulsa
2023 stats: 6 starts, 26⅔ IP, 5 BB, 36 K, 1.01 ERA, 0.900 WHIP
The only level that Frasso struggled at last season was Double-A, where he pitched to a 5.40 ERA over 11 ⅔ innings. A very small sample size of course, but what was notable was the seven walks he posted in those frames. This season, in nearly double the innings, he has two fewer base on balls which is a great sign for his development and maturation as a pitcher.
Importantly as well, Frasso is working batters on the ground as he has a 50-percent ground ball rate thus far this season, 12.9 percent higher than what he posted at AA last season. Frasso is also doing this with a BABIP of .317, which is a rather high number. The only statistic that I even see that might indicate some regression will come is his 88.5-percent left on base rate. Maintaining a number that high is extremely difficult and as that comes down to normal his ERA will go up a little.
The more immediate concern is whether Frasso will miss time after leaving his Saturday start early with a team trainer.
Yeiner Fernandez, C/2B
Current level: High-A Great Lakes
2023 stats: .321/.404/.464, 149 wRC+ 3 HR, 17 RBI, 12 BB, 16 K
The first thing I look at when evaluating the stats of a younger player at a new level is the progression or regression in the walk-to-strikeout ratio. It is one of the few baseline stats you can use to help project a prospect’s short- and long-term future.
A higher strikeout rate at the lower levels often indicates high strikeout and whiff rates at upper levels. The Dodgers don’t have to worry about that with Fernandez. The 2019 international signee has a 0.75 BB/K ratio, slightly below the number he posted at Low-A Rancho Cucamonga last season where he had 423 plate appearances.
Fernandez’s ground ball rate has come up a little going from 43.2 percent last season to 46.4 percent this season. He is also working the other way at an increased rate of 32.9 percent this season. A small note as well for Fernandez is last season he stole three bases in 89 games; this year he already has two stolen bases in just 22 games.
Yeiner Fernandez walks it off!!! pic.twitter.com/PGh3pAeu5y— Great Lakes Loons (@greatlakesloons) May 6, 2023
Jorbit Vivas, 2B/3B
Current level: Double-A Tulsa
2023 stats: .333/.433/.586, 165 wRC+, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 13 BB, 17 K
Vivas has gotten off to a torrid start this season. After a down year last year in what was his fifth year with the organization, he’s returned to his 2019 and 2021 form.
In 2022 across 128 games, he had 10 homers; in 26 games this year he already has four homers, in addition to 11 doubles, just eight fewer than last year’s mark. His .363 BABIP does indicate some good luck but seeing as it’s not significantly above his average it’s not overly concerning.
The biggest change for Vivas is his batted-ball profile. His ground-ball percentage has plummeted from 41.7 percent to 27.7 and his flyball rate has increased to 38.1 to 47 percent. Any time you can work the ball in the air at a higher rate your average and other stats are likely to follow.
Vivas ties the game with his 2nd homerun of the game!— Tulsa Drillers (@TulsaDrillers) April 23, 2023
3-3 ⬇️ of the 6️⃣ pic.twitter.com/SQkINpV6D1