5 Dodgers relief prospects who have put themselves ahead of the pack

(Photo: Cody Bashore)

Year after year, the Dodgers farm system — especially on the pitching side — thrives in quality of depth.

Often, this shows through in the starting pitching prospects that are given most of the attention. Despite finding themselves out of the spotlight, this year has been especially prevalent for a few relief pitching prospects who have established themselves as potential impact big leaguers.

Here are five relievers in the Dodgers farm system who have turned heads this season.


RHP Edgardo Henriquez

Making his way back from Tommy John surgery which held him out for the entirety of 2023, Edgardo Henriquez has wasted no time in regaining his prospect stock.

The Venezuelan had never pitched above Single-A before his injury. He reminded everyone of the quality of his stuff when he dominated the final inning of the Spring Breakout game back in March. Since then, he has risen his way all the way from Single-A to Double-A and has been practically unhittable. On the season, Henriquez holds a simply absurd 48.1% strikeout rate. He has a 2.03 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 1.68 FIP. Every number shows that he has been dominant.

Henriquez has a fastball that hits triple digits with ease and has touched 102 mph this year. It is at least a double-plus heater, and it makes his excellent slider that plays off it even better. His arsenal is effective against both righties and lefties, with hitters in either box batting below .150 against him this year.

The Dodgers had Henriquez make only eight appearances in High-A before moving him up to Double-A. He is Rule 5 Draft eligible already, so he will have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. It appears the Dodgers are fast-tracking the 21-year-old (turning 22 on June 24) knowing that he will be ready to contribute in the majors in short order.

It is still possible that Los Angeles tries to stretch Henriquez out into a starter, which was the role he held prior to elbow surgery. However, so far this year, he has been deployed in one-to-two inning stints. He may be most likely to end up in the bullpen anyway, where he could become an impact closer.


RHP Reynaldo Yean

Another right-handed fireballer, Reynaldo Yean is the hardest throwing pitcher in the Dodgers organization by maximum velocity. He reached 104 mph in a game earlier this year and consistently sits in triple digits. Yean lights up the radar gun, but he also has a very good slider to pair with it. His two-pitch mix have made him a strikeout force so far in his pro career, posting a strikeout rate of at least 35% at every level that he has reached.

Just 20 years old, the Dominican right-hander has only reached Single-A so far. He is currently on the injured list, having landed there on May 20. There isn’t currently an indication as to when he will be back, but he is, at least for now, not on the full-season IL, which hopefully signals his injury being minor.

The main aspect holding back Yean from consistent results has been his command. He struggles to control his stuff, but has improved in the area over the last year. Though Yean stays competitive in at-bats more often, he still carries an unsustainably high walk rate of 16.7% this year.

If Yean can continue to reign in his command as he gets older, he could become a lights-out back-end reliever. To reach that ceiling, he does not even need average command; just enough to let his stuff play. For now, Yean will need to get healthy and continue developing in Single-A.


LHP Jack Dreyer

Although his stuff does not jump off the page quite as much as the previous two players in this article, Jack Dreyer has had the most success of any reliever in the organization this year. He’s been one of the best relievers in minor league baseball, posting absurd clips of a 0.93 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 36.5% strikeout rate and 3.8% walk rate between Double-A and Triple-A.

Dreyer is an interesting player to examine in his success. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2021, he pitched just 12 innings in 2022, all in rookie ball. He then went straight to High-A in 2023, putting up a 2.30 ERA with big strikeout numbers despite struggles with walks. After turning 25 during the offseason, Dreyer reported to Double-A to begin 2024. He saw a drastic improvement in command, shaving 11% off his walk rate from the previous year across 14 2/3 Double-A innings. He did not allowed a single earned run and was promoted to Triple-A from there.

Dreyer has a rare pairing of big strikeout numbers and limited walks. He is one of only six minor league pitchers this year with more than 20 innings, a strikeout rate above 36% and a walk rate below 4%.

As for his stuff, Dreyer’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but it plays harder than that. Dreyer’s ability to spot his pitches on the corners helps, and he also hides the ball well in his pitching motion. He also throws a slider in the mid-to-high 80s and a curveball in the high 70s.

The sheer success that Dreyer has pitched with over the last two years has propelled himself into the potential future plans of the Dodgers bullpen. He has a 1.79 ERA through 75 career appearances in the minor leagues. Dreyer could end up making his MLB debut as soon as this season.


RHP Sauryn Lao

The Dodgers originally signed Sauryn Lao as an infielder in 2015. He remained a position player in the organization through 2022, after which they converted him to the mound. He’s still only 24, and midway through his second season on the mound, Lao has already reached Triple-A. Lao opened the year in Double-A and allowed four earned runs across his first three appearances. After that, he settled in, and allowed a total of one run over his final 20 innings in Tulsa.

It is easy to see that Lao was a position player because of the athleticism he brings to the mound. He is still relatively early in his development as a pitcher, but his stuff has made his learning curve accelerate quickly. He has a 3.16 ERA and a 5.47 K/BB ratio through 55 career pitching appearances.

Lao’s best pitch is a hybrid cutter/slider that has sharp bite away from right-handed batters and sits just south of 90 mph. His fastball sits in the mid 90s with good run. He also mixes in a changeup once in a while in the high 80s.

Based on how quickly Lao has become comfortable as a pitcher, he should continue to improve with more time to refine his arsenal. His command has room for improvement. The Dodgers will have to make a decision on him in the offseason, because he is Rule 5 Draft eligible and appears likely to be taken at this point if he is not protected.


RHP Lucas Wepf

A 6-foot-5 Canadian, Lucas Wepf was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022. He went straight to Single-A for his pro debut in 2022 and has shown massive strikeout stuff ever since.

Wepf struck out batters at a 43.6% rate in Single-A last year before being promoted to High-A and struggling a bit. He had a couple of rough games early in 2023 but has found it since. Over his last 17 outings, Wepf has a 1.29 ERA, 43.6% strikeout rate and 6.4% walk rate.

Built with a long frame, Wepf has very good extension and releases the ball close to home plate. On top of that, his fastball gets up to 97 mph while sitting in the mid 90s. He also has an excellent slider and quality splitter.

The Dodgers have time to allow Wepf to develop. He is not Rule 5 eligible until 2025, so he does not have to be rostered before then. Wepf is being moved up to Double-A, where he will likely play out the year and attempt to make the transition more smoothly than his move up to High-A last year.

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.