The Dodgers farm system has had a fantastic start to the season with multiple prospects improving their stock steadily. Some have made their impact felt at the big-league level like Bobby Miller, James Outman, and Emmett Sheehan. Others have notably seen their prospect pedigree in the lower levels of the Dodgers system. Some of those names include Dalton Rushing and River Ryan, but there are three players in mind who have made the biggest jump.
RHP Landon Knack
Triple-A Oklahoma City & Double-A Tulsa
2023 stats: 15 GS, 2.41 ERA, 1.042 WHIP, 71 IP, 18 BB, 77 K
Knack has improved in just about every possible way this season. After a dreadful, injury-plagued 2022 season with a 5.01 ERA, he has gotten his walks under control going from 3.8 to 2.3 per nine innings and has seen his WHIP drop almost 0.4. Now his strikeouts per nine has gone down from 11.1 in 2022 to 9.8 in 2023, but with the overall improvement in his numbers that is regression that you can work past. Additionally, a decrease in strikeouts per nine is sometimes an indicator that a pitcher is actually trusting his stuff more because he is attacking batters at a higher rate rather than trying to get strikeouts with pitches out of the zone.
The 26-year-old does have a 100-percent strand rate in Triple-A across his three starts there a number which is all but certain to go down which will result an increased ERA. However, on the flip side, his 72.8-percent strand rate in Double-A this season where he pitched to a 2.93 FIP is actually a bit low, so those two numbers do even themselves out in the grand scheme of things. As mentioned above, the 2020 second-round selection is 26 so he should be posting solid numbers in the minor leagues but overall, this is impressive improvement.
2B Jorbit Vivas
2023 stats: .300/.404/.474, 136 wRC+, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 36 BB, 38 K
When a player gets promoted among the first things you look for are changes in their walk and strikeout rates. Traditionally this is an indicator as to whether or not they are getting overmatched by their opposition which Vivas has not been this year. In High-A ball last season, he had a K rate of 10.8 percent and walk rate of 10.3. This year in Double-A those numbers are 10.2 and 10.2 percent respectively.
In addition, Vivas’ average has jumped .031 and he has a BABIP of just .315, which is up .030 from last season. Traditionally when a player’s BABIP is so close to their average it is a sign that they’ve been a bit unlucky at the dish. In addition to that Vivas has also seen an uptick in his power hitting 10 homers already this season, the same number he had last season, but he’s done it in 49 fewer games this season.
LHP Maddux Bruns
High-A Great Lakes, Low-A Rancho Cucamonga
2023 stats: 17 GS, 2.23 ERA, 1.236 WHIP, 60⅔ IP, 44 BB, 84 K
The Dodgers 2021 first-round draft pick is starting to show his potential. After a wild 2022 where he had a 5.68 ERA across 44 ⅓ innings with 45 walks and 67 strikeouts, the southpaw has improved across the board. The walks are still concerning at 6.5 per nine innings this year, a number that if it continues will prevent him from being a big-league pitcher. But, with how solid his overall repertoire is, if he can get his command to slightly below average, he has the ceiling of a solid MLB pitcher. There are a couple of numbers that do indicate some good luck this season like the fact he has a 4.39 xFIP in High-A or he had an 88-percent strand rate in Low-A, but overall, the improvements are encouraging.