The Dodgers stuck with the college route in rounds 3-5 of the 2019 MLB Draft, snagging two pitchers and a big-time power bat.
Round 3, No. 102 overall – RHP Ryan Pepiot, Butler University
Pepiot (6’3, 205 pounds, age 21) was quite the value pick for the Dodgers at 102. He was ranked by Keith Law, FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline and 2080 Baseball as the 33rd(!)-, 62nd-, 72nd and 73rd-best (respectively) prospect available. Pipeline also graded his changeup as the best in the entire draft class, which, drool.
Here’s what the experts say about him.
“The fastball will sit 90-to-93, though he’ll occasionally reach back for more. Control has been an issue, as Pepiot walked over five hitters per nine this season. The aforementioned changeup is so effective due to the deception in the arm speed and arm-side movement. He throws a pair of breaking balls, with the mid-70s curveball being significantly ahead of the slider at present.”
“Pepiot is a big-bodied righthander who can attack hitters with a 91-93 mph fastball that touches 95-96 mph. His changeup is a plus pitch as well, but one that multiple evaluators mentioned he relies on too often. It might actually be a little more effective in pro ball if he begins to use it a little more sparingly and uses his fringe-average, 80-82 mph slider and fringe-average, mid-70s curveball more often. Both will flash average or better as Pepiot shows a feel for spin, but he doesn’t use them all that much. That’s due, in part, because he doesn’t consistently locate them. Pepiot will likely go out in pro ball as a starter, but he has a solid fallback option as a power reliever with enough fastball, an ability to spin a breaking ball and a plus changeup.”
“Popup guy is TrackMan type with lots of swing and miss, mid-90’s heater and chance to start.”
“Pepiot misses a ton of bats — he has 126 strikeouts in 78 innings, a 38 percent rate — with great deception in his delivery and high spin rates, boosted by a power curveball with two-plane break”
“Pepiot has one of the best changeups in the college ranks, a low-80s offering with fade that he sells with deceptive arm speed. He can reach 96 mph with some riding action on his fastball, which usually parks around 91-94. Both his curveball and slider can be solid pitches at their best but lack consistency. Pepiot has a strong, durable frame that should allow him to hold up as a starter. His three-quarters delivery features some crossfire that adds deception but somewhat hampers his ability to throw strikes. He has proven to be hard to hit in college but will need to be more precise with his pitches at the next level.”
“At his best he’s been into the mid-90s with a fastball with flashes of a better-than-plus changeup as well, though there is a fair bit of reliever risk here.”
Varying reports, but all pretty positive. Sounds like an MLB arm to me, especially with the Dodgers’ developmental staff. Here’s some video.
Video courtesy of Perfect Game.
Slot-recommended bonus for this pick is $571,400. I don’t expect the Dodgers to save much on this. It even wouldn’t surprise me if he were a slightly over-slot guy, but he seems like a good investment. He pitched 78 innings for Butler this season, so he should get a little more work in before the Dodgers (potentially) shut him down. He could get to Great Lakes, but a stop in either Ogden or the AZL seem likely.
Round 4, No. 131 overall – 3B/1B Brandon Lewis, UC Irvine
Lewis (6’3, 215 pounds, age 20) is an interesting story. He dropped a ton of weight since high school and became a much better athlete. He’s not going to be mistaken for Jeren Kendall, but he has a frame that’s conducive to big-time power at the plate.
“Lewis’ raw power is easily plus-plus, and he has a loose, workable swing that allows him to frequently find the barrel and hit gargantuan pull-side home runs. He has some swing-and-miss to his game but not an overwhelming amount for a power hitter, although he has struggled against better velocity. Lewis is a big-bodied, below-average third baseman with a below-average arm who projects to move to first base, so a lot of pressure will be on his bat.”
“There’s little doubt that it will be Lewis’ bat that will carry him as a professional, and he has the chance to hit for power and average. The ball does not travel in his home park, but he was flirting with the school’s single-season home run record as the Draft approached. There is some length to his swing, and it can get grooved at times, which can be exposed, but scouts think he has the chance to hit enough to tap into his enormous raw power at the next level. He’s a better athlete than he appears to be and has the hands to stay at third, though there’s some concern his fringy arm won’t work from the hot corner long term. Whether he sticks at third or has to move to first, Lewis is going to have to hit his way up to the big leagues. The good news is it looks like he might, with a Ryon Healy– or Rhys Hoskins-type career a possibility if it all clicks.”
“A prototypically-sized third baseman, Lewis has had a big spring for the Anteaters and fits in the mix of some of the top SoCal collegiate prospects. Lewis takes big hacks at the plate and generates good torque and leverage with his lower half that includes a big leg kick into the swing and a longer path geared towards power. The power is the selling point as is his ability to play at the hot corner at the next level.”
Give me all that power. The first three college bats chosen by the Dodgers all profile to be big power-hitters (Michael Busch a little less than Kody Hoese and Lewis). It’s definitely the most premium tool. Here’s some video.
Video courtesy of Prospect Pipeline.
Slot for this pick is $430,800. He seems to have been drafted at the appropriate spot, so I’m expecting him to sign fro somewhere around that amount. I don’t think it’ll take much more. He could get to Great Lakes before season’s end, but he’ll likely see Ogden before that.
Round 5, No. 161 overall – RHP Jack Little, Stanford University
A Stanford reliever whom the Dodgers might try as a starter. Why does that sound so familiar (Chris Reed)? But seriously, at least he’s a mid-round pick instead of, you know, the 16th overall selection in a draft. I’M NOT MAD.
Little (6’4, 190 pounds, age 21) doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he knows how to pitch, which has helped him tie Stanford’s single-season saves record (because yay saves). Here’s what folks are saying about him.
“Little is very competitive and throws from a low slot with a deceptive fastball that tops out at 94 mph but plays up. While he has a long, deep arm action in the back, his delivery has good rhythm and makes the most of a drop-and-drive maneuver. His best secondary offering is an above-average changeup, and he throws a low-80s slider that shows a bit more promise than his upper-70s curveball. Neither pitch is better than fringe-average at the moment, however, leading evaluators to wonder if Little should stick in the bullpen and not take on a starting role in pro ball.”
“(Little) has the potential to have a four-pitch mix should he get the chance to be in a rotation. He’s added a little velocity while at Stanford and can touch 94 mph on occasion, but typically sits in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball. He added a curveball in his sophomore season and it’s become his go-to breaking ball. He continues to work on his slider, and some think if he does end up in a bullpen at the next level, that would be a better breaking ball option for him. He can mix in a solid changeup as well. Stanford has opted to have pitchers with starting potential stay in the bullpen because it’s more valuable to be able to use them multiple times over the weekend. That’s what they did with Hock, who did get some opportunities to start with the Marlins since he was a fourth-round pick in 2017. Little has less effort in his delivery than Hock did, and his ability to throw strikes could give him the chance to be a back-end starter as a pro.”
“Little had an unbelievable sophomore campaign as Stanford’s closer, and though it was nearly impossible to turn in another season like 2018, he is still performing well and is an interesting draft candidate. He can go multiple innings with some potential upside as a candidate to start at the next level with a fluid delivery, loose arm and low-90s fastball with lots of arm-side life and movement.”
Reminds me a bit of Ross Stripling in profile (stuff, size), not necessarily on the mound. Difference is, Stripling was a full-tine starter in college and had a much cleaner delivery. So, we’ll see how Little takes to the rotation. Here’s some video.
Video courtesy of Prospect Pipeline.
Slot for this pick is $321,100. He isn’t an over- or under-draft, so expect him to get around that much. If he’s converting to the rotation, I’m not sure he gets to Great Lakes before season’s end. He’s only thrown 32 2/3 innings, so there’s a little more there for the Dodgers to play with. Perhaps he goes to the AZL or Ogden and makes 2-3 inning starts (not unlike what Stripling did his debut year).