Dodgers Prospect Notes: Knack, Nastrini, Kopp impress, Cartaya homers to end skid, Leonard homers twice, wild inning in OKC

Top Farm Batter

Eddys Leonard has really turned it around after an ugly beginning to the season. He batted just .129 with zero extra-base hits in April, but made the necessary adjustments to be hitting much better now. He hit two homers in Tulsa’s win last night, and Leonard has a 1.017 OPS so far in July.

Along with Jorbit Vivas, this is Leonard’s second season since being added to the 40-man roster. After April, it seemed like he might end up designated for assignment to get that roster spot back, but Leonard has proven that he is still valuable since. He’s mashed lefties with a .355/.403/.645 slash line, and although shortstop might not be is long term spot, Leonard can still provide defensive versatility if he eventually ends up in a platoon role.

Top Farm Pitcher

Landon Knack has had a big year. He started it by dominating Double-A with a 2.20 ERA in 12 starts, and he has continued to pitch well since being promoted. Knack tossed four shutout innings on Wednesday and lowered his Triple-A ERA to 2.55, an especially impressive number for the pitching nightmare that is the Pacific Coast League.

Knack’s MLB debut could come at any time. He turned 26 last week and has proven he is ready for the majors. Possibly the only reason he hasn’t been brought up yet is that he doesn’t have a spot on the 40-man roster already. It is extremely likely he’ll appear in Los Angeles at some point down the stretch.

Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers

Gavin Stone got through six innings in his start on Tuesday. Although he allowed four total runs, he only walked one and generated 14 whiffs. Stone essentially ditched his slider, using his new cutter as his third pitch in the outing.

Michael Busch has remained red-hot for Oklahoma City. He homered for the 13th time this season on Tuesday, and his OPS is all the way up to .990 now. Busch is applying pressure to receive another MLB promotion soon.

The ninth inning of Oklahoma City’s eventual loss on Wednesday was one of the wildest frames I’ve ever seen. After the final out of the eighth, the game was tied 2-2 between the Dodgers and El Paso. The Chihuahuas ambushed Bryan Hudson in the top half, eventually totaling seven runs before recording three outs. In the bottom half, Miguel Vargas started the rally with a homer, and Oklahoma City somehow managed to tie the game with a seven run inning of their own. The Dodgers would end up losing in the 10th, but a 14-run inning doesn’t happen every day.

Double-A Tulsa Drillers

Nick Nastrini showed off his incredible stuff in a big way last night. In just 5 1/3 innings on the mound, the UCLA product tallied 21 swings and misses, which went for a swinging strike rate of nearly 24%. Nastrini’s strikeout rate has been a down a little this season, but outings like this one have shown he’s still got ace-like stuff at his best.

Diego Cartaya broke out of an 0-for-24 skid in style last night, blasting his 12th homer of the year. His OPS on the year is down to .632, and patience with the top prospect’s development is more important now than ever. Cartaya has struggled with the jump to Double-A and will need more time to adjust, but there is no reason to believe he won’t find his consistency at the plate again eventually.

High-A Great Lakes Loons

A pair of southpaws in Justin Wrobleski and Ronan Kopp have each made good starts this week. Wrobleski has been a run-preventing machine since May, posting a 2.14 ERA and allowing just one homer. Although he took the loss due to a lack of run support, the left-hander threw six more impressive innings on Tuesday.

Kopp’s start came last night and was statistically even better than Wrobleski’s, although it was shorter. He didn’t allow a hit in three innings and struck out four. Kopp forced 10 whiffs in just 53 pitches, and he has struck out more than 13 batters per nine on the campaign.

Dalton Rushing has continued to mash Midwest League pitching. He crushed a long homer to dead center field on Wednesday, bringing his total so far in 2023 to nine. The former Louisville catcher has played himself into an arguably 1A/1B contrast with Diego Cartaya for best prospect in the system.

Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Former highly touted signee Wilman Diaz started his Single-A career with a bang after he was promoted to start the week. Diaz posted back-to-back three hit games, including a go-ahead single in extra innings of his debut contest.

While his pro career hasn’t gone according to plan so far, Diaz still possesses a good glove and solid athleticism. If he can get his bat going even to the point of being consistently serviceable, a path to the majors could still exist for the infielder.

Rookie Ball

Compact infielder Jeral Perez has dominated the last two days, totaling three homers and a triple. He started the season with Rancho Cucamonga but went down to Camelback Ranch after seven games in California. Just 30 games into the ACL season, Perez already has 15 extra-base hits, including eight homers. He’s likely to return to the Quakes at some point before the season ends with some extra experience under his belt.

Catcher Angel Diaz homered again in the DSL, and he has maintained a ridiculous .408/.500/.746 slash line on the year. Furthermore, Diaz only has struck out one more time than he has walked. He’s led the offense for a DSL Mega squad that has been pretty solid, despite not operating quite on the insane level of the 26-6 DSL Bautista super team.

About Bruce Kuntz

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I'm a Long Beach State journalism student and I've been writing about the Dodgers and their farm system since I was in high school.