No. 4 prospect Stone shows composure, potential in debut

May 4th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- had about 25 friends and family members at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, all eager to watch him finally make his Major League debut. Back home in Lake City, Ark., a town with fewer than 3,000 people, local shops and restaurants were shut down just to watch the right-hander achieve his lifelong dream.

For Stone, it was just the beginning of what he and the Dodgers hope turns out to be a long and successful career. In his first taste of the Majors, Stone had some ups and downs, allowing five runs (four earned) and striking out one over four innings in the Dodgers’ 10-6 win over the Phillies at Dodger Stadium.

“Awesome,” Stone, the organization’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, said of getting a chance to pitch in the Majors. “Just to have the confidence that [manager Dave Roberts] has shown in me is huge for me and it’s really helped me a lot, going through spring and coming into the season. I’m very thankful for that. For him to give me an opportunity this early in the season was very special.”

The Dodgers’ defense didn’t give Stone much help in the first inning. Max Muncy botched what would’ve been a routine inning-ending double play. Instead, the Phillies got a run across on a Bryson Stott sacrifice fly.

Stone, however, showed flashes of why he’s such a highly touted prospect, staying composed and getting out of a bases-loaded jam with a Brandon Marsh groundout.

“As a manager, you watch how guys react to things out of their control,” Roberts said. “And he handled it like a pro. That’s a play that Max would make 99 percent of the time, but he didn’t come up with it. But Gavin kept us in that ballgame in that inning. So that was good to see.”

After retiring the side in order in the second, Stone ran into more trouble in the third. Stone gave up back-to-back doubles to Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos, then four consecutive two-out singles. The Phillies scored four runs in the frame.

In the fourth, however, Stone worked around Harper’s one-out single to end his outing with a zero on the board.

"Felt great,” Stone said. “Third inning got away from me a little bit, but other than that, it felt great. Didn't have my best stuff, but going forward, it's a very positive outing for me."

Overall, Stone struggled with his command and didn't have a feel for his signature changeup, a pitch that is rated as one of the best in the Minors. The Dodgers will now decide what they’ll do with Stone moving forward. They could choose to option him back to Triple-A Oklahoma City and continue his development, or they can stay with a six-man rotation one more time through the order, giving Stone another chance next week against the Brewers.

Regardless of what they do and despite some of the results, Wednesday’s start at Dodger Stadium is one Stone will never forget.

“It’s been a crazy ride for me and my family and I’m thankful that they have been a huge support system for me,” Stone said. “But yeah, it's been a crazy ride from 2020 to now. I can’t believe it. Hopefully, I can make it a long career.”