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Are AA Pitchers A Realistic Option For The Dodgers?

So many want to ignore what has happened to Gavin Stone this year, and to Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove last year, and start bringing up AA pitchers.  Just who are being referred?

  • Landon Knack
  • Emmet Sheehan
  • Nick Frasso
  • Nick Nastrini
  • River Ryan
  • Kyle Hurt (Probable Reliever)
  • Alec Gamboa (True Reliever)

I can see all 7 pitching in MLB at some point, IF (BIG IF) they all stay healthy.  I just cannot say when, or with which team.  We have observed what has happened to Gavin Stone this year at the MLB level.  What did Stone do to deserve his chance this year?

For 2021 and 2022, Stone was pitching:

212.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.58 H/9, 0.42 HR/9, 12.95 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 4.43 K/BB

As good as his first two years were, it was 2022 that put Stone on the helium balloon to MLB.  At three levels, Gavin compiled the following.  He was as effective and productive at each level.

121.2 IP, 1.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 6.81 H/9, 0.22 HR/9, 12.43 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 3.82 K/BB

No matter how good Gavin was last year, he was not being considered for a role on the ML team.  That very well could have been because the 2022 LAD won 111 games.  Even this year Gavin was third in line for the #5 spot, behind Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove.  It took 2 injuries for Gavin to join the rotation.

IMO, the closest AA pitcher to MLB right now might be Landon Knack.  He is having a good season, but overall is he ready for MLB?


41.0 IP, 1.32 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 5.71 H/9, 0.22 HR/9, 9.88 K/9, 1.54 BB/9, 6.43 K/BB


168.0 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.50 H/9, 0.91 HR/9, 11.09 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, 4.93 K/BB

Landon is having one good year after one not so good year.  He was drafted the same year as Gavin, and was originally considered a more prominent prospect.  But Gavin’s 2022 was far superior, and he bypassed Knack on the pitcher depth chart.  Landon does not have as pronounced K/9 as Gavin, but a superior BB/9.  Does 41.0 productive IP in AA for 2023 warrant an ML promotion.  Knack is not Clayton Kershaw worthy of a promotion straight from AA.  Even Clayton had 200.1 IP in MiLB before he was promoted in 2008.  Different times, different talents.

Emmet Sheehan has piggybacked one good season in 2022 with an outstanding 2023.


44.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 3.48 H/9, 1.02 HR/9, 15.55 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 4.22 K/BB


127.2 IP, 2.75 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 4.93 H/9, 0.70 HR/9, 15.23 K/9, 4.02 BB/9, 3.79 K/BB

Sheehan really has just one plus pitch…fastball.  60 in Baseball America and 65 in MLB Pipeline.  MLP Pipeline considers Sheehan’s change as a 60, while BA considers it a 50.  No other pitch is considered even average by the two most prominent talent evaluating publications (IMO).  Sheehan is considered the #13 LAD prospect by both publications, and is not considered a top 100 prospect.

A couple of questions.  1) Have his secondary/tertiary pitches improved this year?  2) What is the most prominent reason for his high K/9 rate?  3) Does 127.2 career IP for generally a 2 pitch pitcher, with considerable relief risk, warrant a mid-season promotion from AA directly to MLB as a starting pitcher?

Nick Frasso is a personal favorite, and one who is highly regarded in the talent evaluating industry (LAD #9 MLB Pipeline and #11 BA), with some speculating that Frasso could be a Top 100 candidate.  He missed three weeks earlier this season, but he has outstanding career metrics.  Unfortunately, he has only compiled 88.2 career professional IP.  Probably not enough to warrant a promotion to AAA, much less MLB.


88.2 IP, 1.42 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 5.58 H/9, 0.20 HR/9, 12.59 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 5.17 K/BB

Nick Nastrini happens to be another personal favorite.  I am partial to John Savage trained pitchers.  Nick may have had a problem with his final season with UCLA, but the talent was always there, and it still is.  He also has a very limited professional number of innings experience at 159.1, but the results are favorable, but not elite.


159.1 IP, 3.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 5.65 H/9, 1.19 HR/9, 12.88 K/9, 4.24 BB/9, 3.04 K/BB

Nastrini has control issues.  His BB/9 is not where most would like to see, but it is also not as bad as many had predicted, especially after his final season at UCLA.  He still has work in that regard, and should not be considered a viable rotational candidate at this time. And there are better relief candidates currently.

River Ryan was a two-way player at NCAA Division II UNC Pembroke.  He asked to continue to hit and the Padres allowed him to do so. After the trade to the Dodgers for Matt Beaty, Ryan became strictly a pitcher and is still just learning how to be that pitcher.  He is pitching well, but his BB/9 and K/BB are just not quite to the level to get a promotion to AAA much less MLB.  Some pundits do consider him a possible Top 100 prospect.  But he is not there yet.

Of course none of those pitchers could do much worse than Gavin Stone or Noah Syndergaard.  But what might it do to their psychological makeup if they get hit and beat like Gavin.  If Gavin Stone was considered the best of the rest, and he has pitched better and for more innings than any other MiLB pitcher, what makes one believe that the AA pitchers can succeed where Stone has not.  None of those pitchers identified above have the pitch arsenal of Bobby Miller.  Most have maybe two plus and one average pitch.  Currently!!

If Gavin does not make his next start, he will be replaced by Michael Grove, not Landon Knack or Emmet Sheehan.  One other consideration, will be that 4-5 pitchers currently on the 60 day IL will need to be added back to the 40 man, and someone is going to be gone.  It would be easier to DFA a Matt Andriese than the prospects.  By the time the Dodgers do get to adding players back from the 60 day IL, some 40 man players could be moved at the trade deadline to make room for the 2nd half pitchers.  Possible 2nd half pitchers?

  • Ryan Pepiot
  • Daniel Hudson
  • J. P. Feyereisen
  • Alex Reyes
  • Dustin May (???)
  • Blake Treinen (???)

Adding AA pitchers to the 40 man would make that task that much more difficult.

To answer the original question, are AA pitchers a realistic option?  IMO, not yet.



I wrote this before Landon Knack’s outing on Tuesday night.  That seems to solidify my comment that there is not a AA pitcher ready for MLB.


05-30-2023 – MiLB Summary Report


OKC Dodgers 7 – Reno Aces (Arizona) 0 

OKC threw a 4 pitcher bullpen game.  They combined on a 2 hit, 1 BB, shutout.  Mark Washington started and pitched the first three innings.  He allowed 2 singles and a BB and 2 Ks.

Trevor Bettencourt (3.0 IP), Taylor Scott (1.0 IP), and Wander Suero (2.0 IP) finished off the Aces with 6 perfect innings for the shutout.

OKC was scoreless for the first three innings, but broke through for 5 in the 4th.  The had 1 walk and 6 hits including doubles by Michael Busch, a run scoring triple by Ryan Ward, a run scoring double y Yonny Hernandez (7).  Hunter Feduccia and Devin Mann singled with Mann driving home Fernandez.  Justin Yurchak drew a walk to load the bases.  Drew Avans hit a 2-run double to end the scoring in the 4th

In the 8th, OKC loaded the bases on singles by Feduccia and Yurchak, and a BB to Avans.  Jonny DeLuca had another pair of RBIs with a 2-run single.

  • Ryan Ward – 2-4, triple (2)
  • Hunter Feduccia – 3-4, double (6)
  • Justin Yurchak – 2-3
  • Drew Avans – 2-run double (12)
  • Michael Busch – 2-run double (11)


Box Score


Tulsa Drillers 9 – Wichita Wind Storm (Minnesota) 8 

The Wind Surge knocked Landon Knack around for 4 innings.  The Wind Surge had 4 after the first four batters.  A single, walk, triple and HR and 4-0.  For good measure, the 5th batter hits a double and the Wind Surge hit for the cycle in the first 5 batters.

A walk and 2 singles score another in the 2nd.  Finally Wichita scored an unearned run in the 4th, and the game looked like it was getting out of control.

Before the game, we learned that Austin Gauthier was promoted to Tulsa from Great Lakes.  And he played a part in the scoring, as he did at Great Lakes.

But the Drillers hit back in the 5th.  Yusniel Díaz led off with a BB and Diego Cartaya hit his 5th HR on the year.  Austin Gauthier then drew a BB and Brandon Lewis reached on a dropped throw. Jorbit Vivas singled home Gauthier and Imanol Vargas hit a 3-run HR.  Score is tied at 6, and Knack is off the hook.

The score remained tied into the Drillers 8th.  A Cartaya single and Gauthier double (1) put runners at 2nd and 3rd.  Brandon Lewis singled both home and an 8-6 lead.  The Drillers scored an insurance run in the 9th.  José Ramos drew a BB and Yusniel Díaz moved Ramos to 3rd.  Ramos scored on a Cartaya ground out.

Kevin Gowdy, John Rooney, and Braydon Fisher followed Knack, and shutout Wichita over the next 4 innings.  Jordan Leasure gave up a 2-run HR in the 9th inning to make it close, but he closed it out for the Tulsa win.

  • Jorbit Vivas – 2-5
  • Imanol Vargas – 2-5, 3 RBI, HR (6)
  • Yusniel Díaz – 2-4
  • Diego Cartaya – 2-5 3 RBI, HR (5)


Box Score


Great Lakes Loons 20 – Beloit Sky Carp  (Miami) 0

Great Lakes banged out 20 hits to score 20 runs.  Four Loons pitchers spread out 4 singles and 1 walk for a shutout.  Yon Castro started and went 5.0 innings.  He allowed 2 hits and issued the one walk to go with 5 strikeouts.  Three relievers finished the shutout.

  • Franklin De La Paz – 2.0 IP, 1 hit, 1 K
  • Christian Suarez – 1.0 IP, 1 hit
  • Jack Dreyer – 1.0 IP, 1 K

The Loons banged out 10 doubles, 3 by Dalton Rushing, whose doubles brought home 4 RBIs.  But the hitting star for the Loons was the just promoted (today) OF, Chris Newell.  Newell went 3-5, with a double and 2 HRs and 5 RBIs.  Welcome to Great Lakes Chris Newell.  Newel was the 13th round pick out of Virginia in last year’s draft.  He has been hitting ever since he was drafted. Chris now has 16 HRs to lead all LAD affiliates in HRs.  He has 9 doubles and 2 triples to go with the HRs.  He is batting .321/.433/.704/1.137 in 2023 over two levels.

Every Loons batter with an AB had at least 1 hit.  Four Loons had 3 hits.  Besides Rushing and Newell, Alex Freeland went 3-5 including a double (8) and 3 RBIs.  Luis Yanel Diaz went 3-6 with a double (6).

Three Loons hitters had a pair of hits.  Damon Keith went 2-5 including a double (8) and 2 RBIs.  Jake Vogel went 2-6 with a HR (1) and double (6) and 2 RBIs.  Chris Alleyne went 2-4 with a double (7).  Yeiner Fernandez had the other double (6).

The Loons were up 7-0 when they put up 8 runs in the 5th.  They scored 5 more in 3 of the final 4 innings.

I am not sure that any team could have played any better baseball than in this game.  Pitching, hitting, and defense.


Box Score


Inland Empire 66ers (LAA) 11 – Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 0

The Quakes were shut out on 3 hits.  2 of the hits were doubles by DH Jesus Galiz (8).

The Inland Empire 66ers did something that no other team had done in 2023, as they shut out the Quakes for the first time this year, dominating in an 11-0 decision to end Rancho’s three-game winning streak.

Three Sixers pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout, with Leonard Williams (2-2) going six innings and allowing just one hit to earn the win.

The Inland Empire offense enjoyed one of their best games of the year, matching a season-best 15 hits on their way to their third straight win overall. They also slugged three home runs, including two off of Rancho starter Chris Campos (5-2), who allowed seven runs (six earned) over just 2.1 innings.


Box Score


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I wouldn’t mind reading a feature on Gamboa, unless you’ve already done one. Thank you.


Wind surge is a cool name


Some random thoughts on the Dodger 2023 offensive.
Stats through Sunday

A brief look at the Dodger offense reveals some staggering K rates.
Muncy 30%
JD 29%
Thompson 43%
Outman 37%
Taylor 37%
Barnes 26%

Then you have hitters that make more contact:
Betts 19%
Freeman 16%
Smith 8% (with 24 BB / 12 K)
Vargas 20%
Heyward 21%
Peralta 18%
Rojas 13%

Even though the bottom four above have low .200 averages at least they put the ball in play more often than the upper list individuals.  With Muncy and JD they are at least providing some HRs and are driving in runs.  JD has cut down on his K rate since returning from injury and has really been on fire the past 15 games with 7 HR and 21 RBI. Max’s K rate has really increased in May.  He is a true example of the three outcome philosophy.  But, there is too much long ball and run production from Max.  At least he’s being aggressive at the plate.  Max is what he is and that’s fine with me.

My point with this is that with the shift gone then it’s easier to get a hit IF you make contact.  It doesn’t seem that the Dodgers or just some players aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity.  It’s something that has pissed me off for several years with the acceptance of the three outcome scenarios adopted by analytics.  I know the numbers show it’s better to strikeout several times in order to try to hit a HR, but it’s boring to me as a fan.  If the batter makes contact more often than the occasional HR that makes sense to me in the long run in the success of the team and the enjoyment of the fans. With the ball in play you never know what might happen.  Thankfully, MLB did some rule changes this year to increase offensive activity.  

One of those changes is the base size and the limited pickoff attempts in order to increase the stolen base play.  Have the Dodgers taken advantage of this?  Nope.  And, they appear to just accept the fact that other teams will run at will against them.  I don’t get it.  You have excellent base runners up and down the lineup.  What a waste of opportunity.

I have seen enough of Austin Barnes.  He may be a decent catcher, but has absolutely no chance throwing out a runner and can’t hit at all anymore.  I mean .087?  He isn’t that good of a catcher where he is making game changing decisions to make a pitcher successful.  It’s time for Feduccia.  Add to the waiver list is Trayce Thompson.  Sure, he just had a nice game, but he can’t make contact with a baseball most of the time.  Let’s continue the prospect call ups with Jonny DeLuca.  He’s been lights out this year at Tulsa and OKC.  Makes contact, hits with some power and is right handed.  Although a small sample size he’s hitting .409 against LHP and .250 RHP.  For a 25th round pick he could quite the find. Let’s see what he can do.  Send Outman to OKC to work on some things and bring up Jonny.

So, considering all the stats above here’s a lineup I would like to see most days:

RF Betts
1B Freeman
C   Smith
3B Muncy
2B Vargas
LF Peralta
CF Heyward
SS Rojas

I know the bottom three don’t provide much offensively, they are all veterans who can contribute in other aspects of the game to help them win.  Like making defensive plays, base running, minimizing mistakes, and having productive ABs.  Look at last year’s bottom four of the lineup.  I think it was worse than what I’ve proposed.  And the 2022 team won 111 games.  So there’s that.
Carry on


Have to agree it is time to move on from Barnes and Thompson. Also, Outman needs a trip to OKC.


Barnes is going nowhere.

Thompson is getting close to getting DeLuca’d.

Noah could be making his last start today.


Barnes may not be going away, but, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t.

Syndergaard will be around until two of May, Pepiot, Grove, or Urias get back.


For those who subscribe there’s a nice article in The Athletic on the development of 20 year old left hander Maddux Bruns.


It’s crazy to think that he’s a top ten pitching prospect for us and he would’ve been #1 in many years during the 90s.


Gosh Ted, I loved that article.

The Rushing anecdote speaks about Bruns and Rushing.
The insight about pitcher development.
Why the team drafted Bruns.
Bruns wanting to go to LA.

I wish I wrote that article.


Jeff, some excellent information and updates on the next tier of Dodger pitching prospects. The pipeline should be in good shape for the future. Seems the Dodgers have concentrated on college arms in the draft and recently in position players for their international signings. Their could be quite an amazing group of prospects in all areas in a couple of years. It will be something to watch.
Thanks for help keeping us informed on their progress to the MLB.


I never have been a fan of bringing up guys from AA without at least some time at AAA. Now I know I am probably forgetting someone, but the only AA player I can ever remember impacting the team was Steve Howe in 80. He was lights out as the closer. He pitched in 59 games and had 17 saves. He lost 9 and won 7. His ERA was 2.66. He was the Rookie of the Year. The third in a row behind Sizemore and Sutcliffe. Fernando would garner the honor in 81.


I told ya the old memory was faulty. But in my defense, I was driving long haul when CK came up and could not keep track of the minor leaguers.

Rob Schelling

Steve Sax would be another player who made the jump from AA to the major leagues quite effectively

Sam Oyed

Juan Soto was also a AA call up. Nats had no one in AAA that they thought would help so they went with Soto.


Yes, but we are talking about the Dodgers who normally do not do that.

Singing the Blue

Excellent analysis, Jeff. I agree with all of your points.

If we assume that we won’t see any of the AA guys in the rotation this year, I don’t think AF will take a chance on just riding with what he has, counting on returns from Urias, May and Pepiot.

I think we can count on seeing Julio back before the All Star break but May and Pepiot are complete unknowns at this point and may not be of much help at all for the remainder of the year.

I’m guessing that Andrew will add at least one starter through trade in July. Whether that’s an established starter such as Stroman, Burnes, etc. or a swing-man type like Stripling will probably only be determined by availability and what other teams are offering for those types of pitchers.

One thing for sure, I don’t think Mr. Friedman is willing to go into the playoffs having to count on Syndergaard’s suddenly finding himself and maintaining that for the rest of the year, Stone becoming the pitcher in MLB this year that he was in the minors last year, or Grove establishing himself as a viable major league starter and consistently showing that for the rest of the year.


I always liked Beaty. When he was a Dodger he had some huge pinch hits. He also is a part of history. During a three game series with the Rockies, the Dodgers had three rookies, Beaty, Verdugo and Smith, hit walk off home runs in each game. Beaty’s and Verdugo’s were solo shots. Smith was a three run homer Sunday afternoon to complete the sweep. How sweep it was.

Singing the Blue

We’ll see what kind of career River Ryan has. He is certainly showing a lot of promise. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the best thing Matt every did for the Dodgers was to get them Ryan.

I’ve long been a Beaty fan. I think it would be great if he could join McKinstry in Detroit. Maybe that kind of team and a manager like Hinch would be what it would take to get his career on track again. He certainly had some important contributions while he was here.


We can win this one with Thor on the mound. I predict they will leave him in for 5, knowing we will score 9 and win by 3.

Bummer about Vesia.

I don’t see any AA pitchers coming in and giving the help that’s needed. Not long innings anyway. As I read here in the last 40 years we’ve had 2 that were memorable. We need Major League pitchers. AF will find them.

I’m fine with the offense we have. If down the road it stops producing, address it then.

Some lengthy well written thoughts here today. Your site is getting the traffic and discussion it deserves Jeff.

Last edited 1 year ago by Badger

Changing catchers mid-season messes up the battery synergy. I think Barnes has to stay as the backup catcher this year. Maybe Rohas sits when Barnes catches.

I like Betts at short.

If the Dodgers can’t slow the opposing team’s running game then they need to at least match it. Make it a push.

I am okay with Stone as the #5 pitcher. Bring him back up now and give him two more starts.

Keep Outman in the lineup at least 80% of the games.

Trade Muncy 😀

Last edited 1 year ago by Bumsrap

Trade him for what? Somebody else who hits 30 home runs and OPS .850 or more pitching? Or the smiley face means you’re kidding. We could use some more better pitching.

OK I got this wrong. I did see home runs late but I thought they’d be ours.


My comments would not be official if they did not include a trade Muncy.


And a Joc, Gleyber, and walk Judge intentionally every time up reference.


As awful as Muncy has been he has probably won us some games with his power bat. If only he could connect like JDM does. I wouldn’t shop Muncy. Someone may come around and offer us a surprisingly good deal for him. If Joc could become a hitter, Muncy could too. I get rid of JVS first.

Foget Stone. Our pitching is in a nose dive. We need to overhaul the BP once again. Seems like a never ending process with us. Get rid of Vesia and Bickford, once and for all.

Don’t agree with your catching call. Barnes needs to go. I can see the logic of the FO in doing nothing until the trade deadline. We have enough to win games but it will be all on the bats to do it.


As bad as it looked Sydergaard deserved better. A 10’ underhanded toss too high? Come on Miguel.

I still believe we win this. Nationals are good at finding ways to lose.

Last edited 1 year ago by Badger

He’s already gotten more than he deserves just being in the rotation.😋 He’s a goner along with some other no shows. Just a matter of time. Believe in JDM, he’s a good bet. I hope Mookie can take some of JDMs hitting abilities and rise from his current level of BA. I like Mookie but his contract is insane. Move him to SS next season.


Reading about our prospects interesting, but until prospects tear up AA it’s hard for me to care all that much. I remember the reports about Kasowski, but then, like so many A players, he dropped out of sight.

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