Dodgers Prospect Notes: Nastrini moving up, DeLuca surging, Tulsa trio go off, more

Michael Busch (Photo: Cody Bashore)

May 11th, 2022 Scoreboard


Nick Nastrini had the longest outing of his career for Great Lakes on Tuesday, tossing 4.0 innings of no hit ball. Only one runner reached base (via a walk), he struck out seven, and he only faced one batter over the minimum. Seven strikeouts in 4.0 innings seems pretty good, but Nastrini has gotten so many whiffs that it actually reduced his strikeout rate:

Nastrini was taken 131st overall out of UCLA, but in the most recent writeup of the system over at FanGraphs, they gave him a prospect grade of 40+. According to their last draft rankings, that grade is commensurate with pitchers in the 26-50 range. It appears he’s already movin’ on up.


That tweet is a good lead-in to what else is going on with Great Lakes — Jonny DeLuca‘s surge.

April was a cold month in the Midwest League, but a lot of bats seem to be warming up with the weather. After Tuesday’s two-homer game, the former Oregon Duck (and Agoura High School grad) is slashing .324/.359/.677 in his last 10 games, and five of his 11 hits in that timeframe have gone for extra bases.

DeLuca showed little in the power department at Oregon, slugging .354 during his time in college. He was only 20 when he was drafted, and power is among the last tools to show up for hitters, so he was a big time projection pick that appears to be clicking to some degree. He’s about half year older than average for the High A level, so the next step up in competition might be a bit more telling.


Michael Busch jumped back into the system lead in homers with his 10th:

Busch ended up going 3/4 on the day, both driving in and scoring a pair of runs, and raising his OPS to 1.086 for the season. A little over a third of the way through May, and he’s slashing .345/.406/.621 for the month. It’s fair to assert at this point that he’s beating the level with the bat, the glove remains the sole question.


James Outman had a brief, tepid start to the season, posting an OPS of .606 in his first eight games, but he has been consistently excellent since, and had himself a pretty big game for Tulsa yesterday:

Outman reached base in all four of his trips to the plate, going 3/3 with a walk, and he stole his fourth bag of the season. In the 20 games since the rough start, he’s slashing .312/.411/.662 (bully for arbitrary endpoints!)


A third Driller had a big day as well, and he’s a mild blast from the past — Chris Betts:

Betts was written up at this very site by Dustin ahead of the 2015 draft. The Dodgers ended up taking Walker Buehler with their first round pick, Betts went to the Rays 28 picks later, and there was gnashing of teeth and such. It all worked out.

Betts elected free agency last November, and was signed by the Dodgers to a minor league deal in February. The last time he was written up at FanGraphs, they had this to say:

Betts has power and had among the better hard-hit rates in the entire org in 2019, though he’s a 1B/DH type for some scouts at this point.

With the DH in place, it makes sense for the Dodgers to cast a wide net for these types of guys, all it takes is one. As they have him serving as one of the catchers for Tulsa, in the event that they can coach him up a bit, it’s a good idea to have someone who can don the tools of ignorance somewhat capably, in case of emergency.

Dustin, the dream is still alive.


Video can be tough to come by when Rancho Cucamonga is playing at home, as they don’t stream their games. That said, Damon Keith, who is having a monster season for the Quakes, hit his fourth homer of the season, and the panoramic shot the club took does a pretty good job of showing the view you get as you take in a game at Loanmart Field:

It’s a nice place to catch a game.

As for Keith, 2021 18th round pick for the Dodgers out of nearby Cal Baptist, in Riverside, he’s slashing a healthy .353/.472/.608.


Ryan Pepiot made his major league debut yesterday, and it was a little bit uneven – while he tossed 3.0 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, he also walked five, and it felt like he was walking a tightrope the whole time.

This outing definitely had its share of positives. His top-flight changeup was advertised at times:

The slider, which he deployed limitedly, is shown to have mirrored his changeup in both spin-based and observed movement:

A third effective pitch is a key component, and having information like this available helps to confirm the intent that was observed at the minor league level:

As for fastball command, it has been a point of emphasis for Pepiot, and his heater kept its shape when he was locating gloveside. It did the same, even when he missed. While this may sound, on the surface, contradictory, gloveside fastball misses from a righty that lose their shape are often a middle/middle prayer. His fastballs that direction have held their shape better this year than they did last Summer, and, if anything, better showcased the carry and shape that is the intent, as they shot up out of the zone, rather than leaking middle/middle, which led to a lot of damage last Summer in his Triple-A introduction.

Armside, at times, he lost both his release point and fastball shape. Sometimes, it was a very early recognizable runner that hitters spat on. Flat run on a fastball is typically not an effective shape. Furthering the challenge, it also differentiated in spin from what hitters would see from his four seam changeup, rendering his go-to pitch all-too recognizable in that lane. But, these are all fixable things. The quality remains.

Ryan Pepiot still possesses elite arm talent, and numerous outlets have given his changeup an 80 — this was not done so lightly. It’s a high-spin bat-missing demon, but it needs these other parts to be in place. There’s significant promise here, as he can get both lefties and righties, and he can definitely spin the ball.


Lastly, if things seem a bit rosy in the prospect notes at times, well, I think Brad Tunney, who does play-by-play for Great Lakes, did a good job of explaining why:

Perhaps it’s small consolation after the big club lost a series they had no business losing, but nonetheless, there is a tremendous pipeline in place, and this club will be excellent for years to come. Enjoy your Thursday, folks.

About Josh Thomas