Dodgers Prospect Notes: Final look at how LA’s prospects performed in the Arizona Fall League

Ronan Kopp (Photo: Cody Bashore)

The 2023 Arizona Fall League came to an end with the championship game on Saturday night. Although the Glendale Desert Dogs — the team who the Dodgers send their prospects to — didn’t make it to the end, there is plenty of encouragement to take from this past month.


LHP Ronan Kopp

While Ronan Kopp has continued to battle command issues, he has also proven that his stuff is elite anywhere that he’s pitched so far as a pro. Kopp tossed eight innings across seven games in Arizona, allowing only one earned run with 15 strikeouts and six walks.

Kopp was top Dodgers prospect in the AFL crop this season. He’s ranked No. 16 in the system on MLB Pipeline and has a ton of potential to dream on. Standing 6-foot-7 and touching 99 mph, Kopp could reach huge heights if he improves his command.

Still only 21, Kopp will enter his third full professional season in 2024. He should be moved back into a starting rotation — at least to start the year — after finishing 2023 in a relief role. With a step forward in his control and extended innings, Kopp could conceivably become a Top 100 prospect. Worst case, it’s hard to imagine he fails to eventually reach the majors as a valuable left-handed reliever.

IF/C Yeiner Fernandez

Venezuelan infielder Yeiner Fernandez had a quality stint in Arizona. Having just turned 21 years old in September, Fernandez was more than two years younger than the average age in the AFL. Still, in 11 games, he slashed .290/.413/.526 while walking eight times compared to only five strikeouts.

Fernandez’s .939 OPS was best on the Desert Dogs, who also featured top hitting prospects Colton Montgomery of the White Sox and Kevin Parada of the Mets. Aside from his offensive success, Fernandez compiled his first professional experience at shortstop, expanding his utility profile moving forward.

Ranked No. 26 in the system on MLB Pipeline, Fernandez will head into 2024 looking to prove the value of his bat. In a crowded system of catchers, he will have to prove he can handle a super utility role to provide the most value. Fernandez’s bat-to-ball skills give him a decent floor to bank on.

RHP Jake Pilarski

An indy-ball find last offseason, Jake Pilarski made a name for himself in spring by showing off his incredible stuff. He’s already 25 and went straight to High-A to begin his affiliated professional career. After 12 dominant games in Great Lakes, he was moved up to Double-A, where an injury caused him to miss time and may have limited his effectiveness.

Pilarski posted a 1.00 ERA in nine Fall League innings. However, while he only allowed one earned run, he allowed five unearned runs to cross. He struck out nine and walked four. Ultimately, with a fastball touching 101mph and a great slider, Pilarski should figure it out next year. If his stuff can begin reflecting in his results, he could be a late-inning weapon for the Dodgers.

OF Damon Keith

After being one of the top hitters in the Dodgers system in 2022, Damon Keith struggled to find consistency in High-A this year. Despite that, he got to Arizona and put up a great month to end the campaign.

Keith played in 19 games and slashed .254/.329/.507, turning in an .836 OPS that was third best on the Desert Dogs. In 2024, Keith will head to a more hitter-friendly environment in Tulsa and look to get back to his big offensive numbers from a year ago. A good campaign at the plate — along with his solid physicals and outfield defense — should get Keith back onto Top 30 lists.

RHP Ben Casparius

Ben Casparius started 2023 on fire in High-A, posting a sub-3.00 ERA in eight games before being promoted to Tulsa. He struggled there, getting hit hard consistently, allowing over nine hits and almost two home runs per nine innings. His overall results in the Fall League didn’t look great either, as he turned in a 10.43 ERA in eight appearances.

Even through some of his struggles, the former UConn hurler has shown flashes of great stuff. Casparius won the final Pitcher of the Week award in the Fall League as he was scoreless in his last three innings. His best pitch by far is his sweeper/slider, which has garnered plus plus grades at times. His fastball runs into the mid-90s but is the pitch that needs to develop a little more consistency so that his slider can play to its full potential and provide Casparius with success.

RHP Kendall Williams

Kendall Williams had a late start to 2023 as he got healthy, but he took advantage of the innings he was given. In 15 starts between High-A and Double-A, Williams posted a 3.06 ERA, his best results since he was a teenager. However, the now 23-year-old only had a 9.0 K-BB%, showing some holes in the reliability of those numbers.

Although he pitched in the Fall Stars game, Williams had an ERA north of five in the Fall League. He allowed five home runs in just 18 2/3 innings. Williams will work to maximize any stuff he can bring with the hope that it will work out in him gaining a backend starter role in the major leagues in the next few years.

RHP Ryan Sublette

Despite an ERA north of six in Tulsa this year, Ryan Sublette has great stuff out of the bullpen, and it translated to better results in Arizona. He posted a 1.93 ERA and struck out 11 across 9 1/3 innings. Now 25 years old, Sublette will be trying to position himself as a depth relief option for the Dodgers in 2024.

OF Jake Vogel

Former third-round outfielder Jake Vogel was on the Fall League roster but did not appear in any games. The speedy 22-year-old struggled at the plate this season with a .637 OPS in Great Lakes.

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.