Dodgers prospect turns in one of the best starts in Fall League history

November 8th, 2022

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dominance came to the Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday afternoon in the form of a 6-foot-5 right-hander who entirely overwhelmed batters with a mid-90s heater and a four-pitch mix.

Meet Emmet Sheehan, the Dodgers’ No. 22 prospect, who tied for the 2022 Fall League high with 10 strikeouts over five scoreless innings; the only blemishes to his line were a bloop single and a first-inning walk.

Sheehan’s performance marked the first of at least eight strikeouts and no runs allowed with one or fewer hits and walks to a ledger since 2005, when D-backs prospect Bill Murphy went six scoreless with 10 punchouts for Phoenix.

Glendale dominated Peoria, 9-3, on the back of Sheehan’s outing, which included eight consecutive strikeouts from the second through the fourth innings. It marked his second straight strong performance against the Javelinas to wrap his AFL slate after enjoying five scoreless last Tuesday, albeit with just four strikeouts that day. Sheehan's 10-punchout start was his third time reaching double-digit K’s this year, serving as a chef’s kiss on a strong first full pro campaign.

“I think I just executed the game plan to where I wanted to be,” Sheehan said. “Getting ahead in counts is huge; that’s something I’ve been working on the past couple of weeks. It just all kind of came together today.”

Statistically speaking, Sheehan’s outing was one of the most dominant in the AFL over the past two decades. He threw a first-pitch strike to seven of the first nine batters he faced, finishing by retiring 13 of the final 14 who dug into the box.

Sheehan’s heater grades out as an above-average offering per MLB Pipeline (65, on the 20-80 scale). He consistently cruised at 95-96 mph Tuesday, ramping it up as high as 97. The pitch worked so well that he utilized it to finish off all 10 of his strikeouts, eight of which came swinging.

“Today I knew it was on, so I shook to it a couple of times and went with it whenever [catcher Jeferson Quero] would put it down,” Sheehan said of his fastball, going on to compliment the Brewers’ No. 7 prospect for his game-calling skills. “I love the way we game planned today.”

Sheehan, a sixth-round selection in the 2021 Draft out of Boston College, had the start of his season initially slowed by a sore arm. The 22-year-old’s numbers at High-A Great Lakes -- where he spent the majority of the season -- are much improved when tossing out a trio of clunkers that struck upon his return. Over his final 15 appearances -- including two with Double-A Tulsa -- Sheehan struck out 93 batters in 59 innings with a 1.53 ERA and held the opposition to a .159/.246/.251 slash line.

Striking out eight consecutive batters in a contest is no small feat. The all-time AL/NL record is 10, which has been done three times -- twice in the past two seasons by Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola. Nine other AL/NL pitchers have logged nine straight punchouts. Sheehan’s personal best on a high-profile stage comes from his penultimate start with Boston College, when he compiled 15 total strikeouts (a single-game school record).

“It feels great,” Sheehan said of being in such a dominant rhythm. “It’s right where you want to be as a pitcher at all times.”

Tuesday’s win was nearly a double-pronged milestone effort for the Desert Dogs. No. 8 Dodgers prospect Jose Ramos came within a double of hitting for the cycle during a 4-for-5 performance in which he collected four RBIs. After tripling on a long drive to center in the second, Ramos swatted his second Fall League roundtripper in the fourth to open the scoring. He added run-scoring singles in the fifth and eighth, as he raised his fall circuit average to .284.