LOS ANGELES -- Once Major League Baseball and the MLBPA come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Dodgers’ focus will immediately shift into trying to improve their Major League roster.
Until then, the Dodgers are spending an extended amount of time evaluating their Minor League system. The Dodgers’ lack of depth was a weakness last season. But if the development of key prospects goes as planned, Los Angeles believes the next crop of Major League-ready prospects can give it a much-needed boost in ‘22.
With that being said, let’s take a look at three Minor Leaguers the Dodgers will be counting on to contribute next season:
1) RHP Bobby Miller
MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 4 prospect in the organization
With some key departures, the Dodgers will need help in the starting rotation at some point next season. Miller, the team’s first-round pick in ‘20, is perhaps the most talented pitching prospect in the Minors and will get plenty of looks. The right-hander struck out 70 batters over 56 1/3 innings in his first season in the Minors. He struggled some in the Arizona Fall League, but the Dodgers are enamored with his raw stuff. Miller’s four-seam fastball taps out in the upper 90s. He pairs that with a wipeout slider, a developing curveball and a solid changeup.
2) RHP Ryan Pepiot
MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 2 prospect in the organization
You can easily make the argument that the 24-year-old Pepiot was ready to contribute last season, but the Dodgers didn’t want to rush his development. Barring injury, the Dodgers are fully expecting Pepiot to have a sizable role next season. Pepiot impressed the Dodgers at the alternate site in ‘20. He followed that up by dominating with Double-A Tulsa, posting a 2.87 ERA in 15 appearances.
He struggled during his short stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City, posting a 7.13 ERA in 11 appearances. The Dodgers, however, aren’t worried by those early numbers. Los Angeles loves Pepiot’s ability to spin the baseball at an elite level. His changeup, which is often regarded as the best single pitch in the Dodgers’ system, will also be a big weapon for the right-hander.
3) INF Miguel Vargas
MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 6 prospect in the organization
The Dodgers’ biggest weakness last season was their position player depth. After being named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year in ‘21, Vargas is expected to give the Dodgers another quality position player option next season.
Vargas always had the ability to hit for average and that continued in ‘21 as he posted a .319 average, including a .321 clip with Double-A Tulsa. But Vargas’ biggest improvement last season was his ability to hit for power. The Cuban infielder hit a career-high 23 homers. He had just nine during his first two Minor League seasons.
The Dodgers see Vargas as a third baseman, but he’s also capable of playing first base, which should help his chances of making his debut at some point during the ‘22 season.
Knack doesn’t have the pure stuff that Miller and Pepiot possess, but the right-hander’s elite command impressed the Dodgers during his first Minor League season. Busch, on the other hand, gives the Dodgers another power left-handed bat. The team’s No. 3 prospect is a second baseman, but could also play first, if needed.