LOS ANGELES -- Walker Buehler opened the 2017 season at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, but by September he was a Major Leaguer, a meteoric rise that has resulted in Buehler being ranked as the No. 5 right-handed pitching prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline.
But in 2017, Buehler's progression was astounding. He had a 1.10 ERA in five starts at Class A, made 11 starts at Double-A, then three starts and nine relief appearances at Triple-A in preparation for a September callup to the big club, where he got his feet wet with eight bullpen appearances.
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While with the Dodgers, Buehler showed glimpses of future greatness with his electric arm, but also the wildness that often plagues young, hard throwers (eight walks in 9 1/3 innings). Still, he struck out 12, finishing the year with 137 strikeouts in 98 innings.
For 2018, the 23-year-old Buehler will go back to starting, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
"I can certainly expect to see him as a starter," said Roberts. "How things shake out in Spring Training will kind of determine where he starts, but [our goal is] for him to continue to develop as a starting pitcher. Got his feet wet last year, and I think that it was encouraging in a lot of ways for Walker -- the quality of hitters faced, the speed of the game, the preparation, being in big league ballparks, I think, all very good for him. But just continuing to develop. Again, we'll see how it all shakes out, but he's definitely a part of the solution."
The former Vanderbilt star has been working out in Nashville, Tenn., eager to resume his career as a starter.
"Getting back into starting, I'll get settled in better maybe, have a full routine and hopefully it brings more success," Buehler said.