GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes stood between a pair of fields at Camelback Ranch. He just watched. On one field, a group of prospects were playing a scrimmage against local independent Asian Breeze. The same intensity was felt on another field during an intrasquad game.
For a second, it was easy to forget that it was just early March and that Minor League Spring Training games don’t get started until March 15th. Rhymes couldn’t help but smile as he marveled over the collection of talent in the Dodgers’ loaded farm system.
“It’s incredible,” Rhymes said. “Just the level of play is extremely high on both sides of the ball. It’s almost surprising at this point in the year where guys are at. It’s really high quality.”
Over the last seven seasons, the Dodgers have enjoyed one of their most successful stretches in franchise history. That’s in large part because of the players the organization has been able to identify and develop throughout the Minor Leagues. The Dodgers have consistently had one of the best systems in baseball, and it’s no different heading into the 2022 season.
When asked who has impressed so far in camp, Rhymes rattled off nearly a dozen names. But the first name that came to mind was right-hander Bobby Miller, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in the 2020 Draft.
From the moment the Dodgers drafted Miller with the 29th pick, the selection was considered a steal by those around the game. Miller has all the tools to become an above-average Major League pitcher. He showed his potential during his first season of pro ball.
Miller went 2-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 17 appearances, striking out 70 in 56 1/3 innings. The right-hander picked up right where he left off. In the scrimmage against Asian Breeze, Miller finished with an average fastball velocity of 100 mph. He hit 101 a couple of times.
“It’s hard not to have him as one of the more improved players,” Rhymes said of Miller. “Physically he looks incredible. He has continued to put on some muscle and gained strength. But he also made a few tweaks to his delivery that have impacted the quality of his four-seam.”
While Miller has been impressive, he has hardly been the only one standing out over the last few couple of weeks. Ryan Pepiot, the organization’s top pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has continued to impress with his stellar changeup. Landon Knack, Clayton Beeter and Gavin Stone have, too. Even undrafted free agent Orlando Ortiz-Mayr showed promise with a solid slider.
On the position player side, the list is lengthy as well. Top prospect Diego Cartaya continues to show why he’s on track to become one of the best prospects in baseball. On Saturday, the 20-year-old catcher hit a homer to the parking lot off left-hander Robbie Erlin, who has Major League experience and spent last season in Japan. On Sunday, he smoked a liner with 107 mph exit velo past Andy Pages in left field.
“You don’t often see a right fielder get burned that quickly by a ball,” Rhymes laughed. “He has continued to impress. Really excited to see him back in live action.”
Third baseman Miguel Vargas has also added more muscle and could be on the cusp of playing in the Majors this season. The same goes for Michael Busch, the organization’s third overall prospect per MLB Pipeline. Busch has hit a pair of homers in intrasquad games. He also looks more comfortable defensively at second base.
The list goes on for the Dodgers. They have excelled at having plenty of depth throughout the Minor Leagues. Some players will be called upon to help the big league club at some point this season. And when it’s their time, the Dodgers are expecting the high quality performance to continue.