These Dodgers prospects can make an impact in September

August 22nd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Dodgers are taking care of business at the Major League level, winning 17 of the 19 games they’ve played in August. Because of this hot month, they are well on their way to win a 10th National League West title in 11 years.

As the Dodgers play out the regular season with their eyes set on October, they’ll also benefit from expanded rosters, which will take place on Sept. 1. The Dodgers -- and every team -- can add one position player and one pitcher to the active roster.

Los Angeles is in a better place than most teams for various reasons. The club can afford to give its young players a runway to develop because of their large division lead. The Dodgers also have one of the best farm systems, which, in theory, will make the big league club much more dominant.

As we look ahead to roster expansion, let’s look at some players the Dodgers could turn to and what their roles could be in September.

1) INF (Dodgers' No. 2 prospect, per MLB Pipeline)
Busch hasn’t gotten much run at the big league level, getting just 45 at-bats after making his debut this season.

The 25-year-old has been one of the best hitters in the Minors this season, absolutely crushing Triple-A pitching. In 88 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, Busch has hit 24 homers and has driven in 82 runs en route to posting a 1.047 OPS.

Busch’s knock has always been his defense. He doesn’t have a natural position and has been blocked for a few years. But if Busch keeps hitting like this, the former first-round pick will surely get more opportunities. With J.D. Martinez going on the injured list with groin tightness on Tuesday, the club recalled Busch for his third stint of the season.

2) RHP  (No. 10)
As Pepiot said, a few weeks turned into a few months for the young right-hander. Pepiot had won a job in the starting rotation out of Spring Training but strained his left oblique in his last start during the Freeway Series. He was activated from the injured list on Aug. 2 and returned to the big leagues this weekend.

To Pepiot’s credit, however, the right-hander showed exactly why he was a highly touted prospect at this time last year. Pepiot allowed one run over five innings against the Marlins, impressing just about everyone in the organization.

The current problem is the Dodgers already have a lot of bulk options following the additions of Lance Lynn and Ryan Yarbrough. Pepiot might get some run before September, but if not, expect him to play a role down the stretch.

3) INF
Vargas’ first extended stay in the big leagues didn’t go as planned. The 23-year-old Cuban infielder was given the second-base job out of Spring Training, but he struggled to adjust to big league pitching. Toward the end, Vargas was lost mechanically and needed a reset.

His first stint wasn’t fruitful, but that doesn’t mean the Dodgers stopped thinking highly of him. Vargas should be part of the future. It just remains to be seen if he could benefit from staying down in Triple-A for the remainder of the season and resetting before the start of the 2024 season.

4) RHP  (No. 5)
Like Vargas, Stone came into this season as a highly touted prospect. Stone’s first taste of the big leagues lasted just four rough appearances (three starts) before he was sent back to the Minors. But again, the Dodgers still view Stone as an important piece of the puzzle in the future. If the Dodgers need some bulk innings at any point, you can expect them to look at deploying Stone. With a lead this big in the division, the Dodgers could almost use the last month as a mini tryout for some of these prospects.

5) RHP
Sheehan made quite the jump this season, landing in the Majors straight from Double-A Tulsa. After a strong start to his big league career, Sheehan struggled. What he did show, however, is how much his fastball plays at this level, and that his future is bright. With Pepiot and Stone likely ahead of him, though, it’s unclear if Sheehan gets another callup this season.