Dodgers Prospects Weekly Best: Grove, Vargas, Nastrini, Yunior beats out Rushing, De Paula, Doncon, more

Triple A Oklahoma City

Michael Grove had his best outing of the season, setting a new career-high in strikeouts along the way:

In addition to the 10 strikeouts, the former West Virginia Mountaineer tossed 5.0 scoreless innings, scattering four singles, and perhaps most importantly, he issued zero walks.

Grove had a two week IL stint at the beginning in July, and upon his return back on July 14th, the Dodgers were cautious with his workload, limiting him to 43 pitches. They have since ramped him all the way up, as the reins were loosened in last week’s outing, during which he tossed 92 pitches.

Due to the ramp up, Grove has only tossed 23.2 IP in the six outings since he returned from the aforementioned IL stint, but he has been dominant when out there, posting an ERA of 2.28, and a K/BB of 32/4. Fully stretched out, on the 40-man roster, and on one of the strongest runs of his career, he’s a readily available option for a spot start.


Miguel Vargas led the charge offensively for OKC:

Vargas slashed .455/.571/.682 for the week, with twice as many walks (6) as strikeouts (3), and a team-leading three stolen bases, giving him an even 15 homers and 15 swipes for the season. He probably feels incredible, like nothing can stop him.


Double A Tulsa

Nick Nastrini didn’t skip a beat after being promoted from High A Great Lakes:

To further get an idea of how impressive Nastrini’s debut was — he is the youngest pitcher to log an inning for Tulsa this season by about seven months, and despite this, his swinging strike rate from his first outing was 17.2%. You know who currently leads the Drillers in swinging strike rate? Gavin Stone, who is almost year and a half older, also with 17.2%. Sheesh.


In lieu of picking a winner this week, since it wasn’t all that exceptional across the board, please enjoy the closing act of Daniel Gossett tossing a complete game no-hitter against Tulsa on Friday. Yep, a complete game no-no, it was that kind of a week for the Drillers.


High A Great Lakes

Damon Keith caught fire for the Loons last week:

For the week, Keith slashed .471/.550/.1.235, good for a comical wRC+ of 357. The Oceanside native racked up six extra-base hits, with three homers, a triple, and two doubles, and he had the same number of walks and strikeouts (just three apiece).


For a second week in a row, Emmet Sheehan proved impossible to top:

As the play-by-play crew indicated, Sheehan closed out his outing with five consecutive strikeouts. After such an extended run of dominance, the 2021 sixth round pick might be running out of boxes to check at the High A level.


Low A Rancho Cucamonga

This one might come as a bit of a surprise, but someone on Rancho had a better week at the plate than Dalton Rushing, if only just — the recently-turned 21-year-old Dominican outfielder, Yunior Garcia:

Sheesh. For the week, Garcia slashed .500/.588/1.214 with three homers, a double, three walks, and just one strikeout. Garcia edged Rushing in OPS, 1.802 to 1.548.

Garcia’s first couple of months this season with Rancho were rough, but he has been on a tear ever since, slashing .351/.418/.595 since the calendar flipped to June. Garcia has long been considered to be a bit of a wild card, as he has some of the most explosive bat speed in the system, but prior to this season, he hadn’t really met a pitch he didn’t like.

In 2022, Garcia’s first in full season ball, he appears to be putting it all together, currently posting a career high in walk rate of 8.8%, and a career low strikeout rate of 19.9%.

As is the case for a lot of guys in the system Garcia, who is primarily a right fielder, is thoroughly blocked at the moment, by Andy Pages and Jose Ramos, not to mention that Mookie Betts kid who will be around for a minute, but yet another prospect enjoying a breakthrough season is fun to see nonetheless.


All Dodger fans are aware that Friedman and Co. are constantly on the lookout for that guy with the one weird trick, and the pitcher who gets the nod for the Quakes for last week fits the bill perfectly.

Reinaldo De Paula, whom the Dodgers signed all the way back in May of 2017, tossed 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing a pair of base hits, with five strikeouts, and no walks. So what’s the weird trick? His fastball. With a reported 2700 RPM, it’s an off-the-charts pitch — the current major-league leader in spin rate is Ethan Roberts, whose heater averages 2659.

De Paula has missed significant time as a pro due to injury, with his 28.1 IP this season being his highest total since 2018, so it is as yet unknown what he can really do given a long enough of a healthy stretch. Thus far it has kept him at Low A, but 80-grade tools are rare enough that the organization has continued to give it a shot.


ACL Dodgers

As is the case with Sheehan, for anyone on the ACL Dodgers at the moment, it is difficult to top Rayne Doncon, who is on a torrid run at the moment. For the week, he slashed .300/.533/.600 with more walks (5) than strikeouts (3). Over the past three weeks, he’s slashing .375/.453/.786, good for a wRC+ of 219. There is no shortage of exciting talent ready file on over to Rancho Cucamonga.


On the pitching side, the top performer was Luis Valdez, who struck out seven with no walks in 4.1 IP. Though he allowed two earned runs, they came across after he left the game, after a walk, force out, and a passed ball (typical Rookie-ball stuff).

For the season, Valdez has a FIP of 2.82, and a K/BB of 33/1. Just one free pass. Now that’s a trend that Dodger fans can get behind.


DSL Dodgers

The offensive standout of the week over the the Dominican Summer League is Samuel Munoz, who put together one of the more interesting stat lines you’ll see. He slashed .455/.538/.864, which looks like a typical sort of hot week for a 6’3 17-year-old who is just coming into his power. What is eye-popping is how he got to that line — four of his five extra base hits were triples. His four triples were more than every other Dodger prospect in the Dominican Republic combined. Prior to last week, Munoz hit all of one triple all season. Baseball gonna baseball, and if you’re into weird, wild stuff, this is it.


On the pitching side, the top performer was Moises Brito, as he tossed 3.2 scoreless IP against Houston’s squad down there, allowing just one base hit, with no walks, and six strikeouts.

Brito, who was the second prospect acquired in the trade that sent Mitch White to Toronto, recently turned 20, and is listed at 6’5, 215 lbs. The young lefty is more of the pitchability type at the moment, with a fastball ranging from 85-88 mph, along with a slider, and a changeup.

One interesting note about Brito — he didn’t sign until this past June, when he was 19, so he doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster for four seasons, meaning his clock is more akin to that of a junior college pick than an international amateur free agent. Time is on the Dodgers’ side as far as seeing whether they can translate a plus command and frame combo into something of more substance. For now, we wait.


That’s all for last week’s top performers, enjoy your week, folks.

About Josh Thomas