Maddux Bruns, whom the Dodgers picked in the first round in 2021 out of UMS Wright Prep School in Alabama, was dominant in his 2022 full season debut for Rancho Cucamonga:
Bruns also possesses a slider that works with his fastball quite well:
Leading up to last year’s draft, there was a lot of talk about both the quality of Bruns’ stuff (top flight), and the trajectory it took (to the backstop often enough to have clubs concerned).
In the following side by side, Bruns on the left is from the Summer of 2020 vs today against Visalia. A lot of these mechanical changes were effected before the 2021 draft, but one area the Dodgers have excelled is in identifying and selecting pop-up guys, and Bruns appears to be no exception:
This is how Bruns looked pre-draft, and though the camera angle is obviously quite different, you can see a lot of the changes were made already:
Why weren’t other clubs as convinced about the mechanical improvements? Who knows/who cares/glad to have him.
Ryan Pepiot had his second strong outing of the year for AAA Oklahoma City:
Pepiot, whom the Dodgers picked in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft out of Butler, has now pitched 7.2 scoreless innings, allowing three walks, just one hit, and striking out seven.
After Pepiot scuffled a bit after a promotion to OKC from Tulsa last Summer, the two biggest questions left about his development were fastball command, and adding a reliable third pitch. He appears to be answering both:
1B/OF Ryan Noda, also new to the AAA level, had a heck of a day as well, going 2/4 with a walk, and hitting not just one homer, but two:
Noda, who came to the Dodgers in the Ross Stripling trade, has long shown an intriguing power/patience combo, and he hit 29 homers and had an OBP of .383 for AA Tulsa in 2021. If he shows competence at multiple positions defensively, along with a reduction in Ks, he could be knocking on the door as a contributor with the big club at some point.
Sunday also saw John Rooney get back on the hill for Tulsa for the first time since June 17th, 2021, and it was like riding a bike:
Rooney, a 3rd round pick back in 2018 out of Hofstra, ran off an impressive run of four starts before being sidelined, striking out 29 over 16.0 innings, with a 2.25 ERA. Seeing a promising season curtailed short always sucks, so the return to form is great to see.
Oh, and he also happens to have a heck of a pickoff move:
Lastly, and certainly not least, Nick Nastrini settled down after a pair of walks, and ultimately had a strong showing for Great Lakes:
Like Bruns, Nastrini was another guy who showed dramatic improvement late, as he showed vastly improved command over the Summer and just prior to the draft that saw the Dodgers pick him in the 4th round. Nastrini is yet another guy in the system giving hitters fits by tunneling a slider off a live heater:
It’s a fun time to follow this system.