Dodgers Prospect Notes: Knack returns, Miller ups curve usage, Amaya’s on fire, others

May 8th, 2022 Scoreboard

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Landon Knack made his long-awaited 2022 debut with Tulsa, and he showed some offseason velo gains:

The velo listed above was via the scorebug — Knack is actually up to 100 via the Hawkeye System.

Knack, whom the Dodgers drafted in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft, was viewed as a savvy senior pick, a guy who could move quickly as a two pitch reliever with plus plus command, whose velo was jump from 93-94 to maybe touching 98 now and then if he were moved to a shorter role. A little less than a year after being drafted and he was sitting 94-96, t97, as a starter, and showing major league quality changeup that a year prior, you’d struggle to even find included in a report.

Flash forward to now, and there has been another jump. On top of reaching triple digits, Knack has added a low 90s cutter, and a much-improved curve that now gets whiffs.

Note: Knack talks more about where he is, as well as his repertoire, in this interview over at Fangraphs. Recommended read!

Knack has undergone a rapid ascent from being thought of across the industry as a reliever to now a four-pitch starter (with a fifth pitch in progress), showing that hundo while keeping the command, and having #2 starter upside. It is readily apparent that this player dev crew isn’t content with just producing big leaguers.

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Bobby Miller had an outing that was mostly up, with a couple speedbumps at the end. It was an outing that saw him go mostly fastball/curve, and, at times, he showed what he could do with some improvement to the hammer:

It is rather tantalizing, when it’s on. The curve is very much his 4th pitch — it didn’t even garner a grade in the most recent Dodger prospect list posted over at FanGraphs. As with Knack, the continuous pursuit of more is to be expected.

That said, Miller starting off strongly, allowing one run in his first four innings, but he appeared to flag a bit in his fifth inning of work, and both his release point and command suffered a bit after striking out the first two hitters he faced in the frame, issuing free passes to the last two hitters he faced. His fastball lost the carry that is key to its success, and it ran horizontally out of the zone. He ended up giving up 3 runs over 4 2/3 innings, with 5 Ks and 3 walks, so it’s hardly a disaster. The 79 pitches Miller tossed were a career high, and last season, he didn’t reach 70+ until the 4th of July.

These are all developmental track things, and the kind of stuff that likely Miller won’t lean on as an excuse (assuming the frustration expressed when he was pulled wasn’t having to do with the postgame bus ride length). Get ’em next time.

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If Jacob Amaya has been featured in this space a bit often, well, he has given me little choice in the matter. To whit:

This has raised Amaya’s slash line to .351/.473/.797, and his wRC+ is currently 205, second in the Texas League. He also leads the Texas League in BB/K ratio, 1.42. All in all, it’s a wildly impressive start the season, and you just gotta see where he goes from here.

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It is becoming more and more difficult to understand how, not even a year ago, Ronan Kopp slipped to the 12th round:

https://twitter.com/jokeylocomotive/status/1523129770791211009

He has struck out 47.3% of the hitters he has faced (tops in the California League, minimum 10 innings), and has held hitters to a meager .095 batting average.

The one caveat, as with so many live young arms, is walks, but there’s a positive trend here as well. Kopp’s walk rate in his first three outings was 28%. In his last four outings, it has dropped to a much more palatable 10%. These are very small slices of the season, but it’s huge stuff, he’s a monster physically, and he’s trending in the right direction.

Helium alert.

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Lastly, there was yet another no-hit start, this time it was Kevin Malisheski for Great Lakes:

Malisheski, who was a 38th round pick of the Dodgers out of Wauconda High School, Wacaunda IL, back in 2016. The fastball was mostly 92-94, and he showed a tight, short-breaking slider that was 85-86.

Malisheski had a disastrous first outing of the season, giving up six earned runs without recording an out, so his season stat line doesn’t accurately portray how his season has gone, since he has been unhittable since. Literally unhittable – he currently has a streak of 9.1 no hit innings, and his ERA over that timeframe is 0.96.

We’ve seen 38th rounders make it all the way to the big club (most recently, Caleb Ferguson), a round that doesn’t even exist any more. Like Ferguson, Malisheski has battled through his injuries as well. Though it’s a steep road from the back end of the draft to the bigs, with long odds, Malisheski is giving it one heck of an effort.

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