With all the minor league affiliates of the Los Angeles Dodgers back in full swing, not only does it allow for a more productive level of player development, but it also affords fans the chance to follow along each day through live games or box scores.
Even though many prospects last year were limited to activities at the club’s alternate training site, there is still an elite group that separates itself from the rest of the pack. Among those elite players is 23-year-old righty pitcher Ryan Pepiot.
For those not familiar with the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Pepiot, he was chosen in the third round of the 2019 MLB draft out of Butler. He was the fourth overall pick for the Dodgers that year, having been selected behind third baseman Kody Hoese, middle infielder Michael Busch, and right-handed pitcher Jimmy Lewis.
While at Butler in 2019, Pepiot set school records with 126 punchouts in a season and 306 for his career. His third-round draft selection made him the highest player chosen in school history.
After the draft, Pepiot got his bearings quickly enough to see time in the Arizona League before being ushered to the then Low-A Great Lakes. Between both those endeavors, the Indianapolis native appeared in 13 games—10 of which were starts—tallying an impressive 1.93 ERA with 31 strikeouts over 23-1/3 innings pitched.
For those of you who visit this site frequently, you’ll know there have been many discussions about Pepiot ultimately contributing as a reliever, even though all his appearances this season so far have come as starts. For Double-A Tulsa this year, Pepiot has gone 0-1 in his first five starts, registering a respectable 2.12 ERA and a .172 BAA with 25 strikeouts over a full 17 innings of work.
Right now, Pepiot employs a full arsenal of pitches which includes a fastball, an exceptional changeup, a curve, and a slider. Should he eventually morph into an exclusive reliver, that repertoire might shrink over time.
Some scouts believe that Pepiot was the best pitcher at the alternate site in 2020, often overmatching hitters who had plenty of MLB experience. According to MLB Pipeline, “his changeup is a legitimate weapon that he sells with fastball arm speed, only to have it arrive at the plate in the low 80s with a ton of fade. After working at 91-94 MPH and touching 96 with high spin rates on his fastball in 2019, he sat at 93-96 with increased vertical movement in shorter stints last year. His low-80s slider got sharper, and he also used his upper-70s curveball to get early-count strikes.”
If there’s been one slight downfall to his game, it’s his command, which scouts accredit to his crossfire-style of delivery. This year, he has issued 10 walks—seemingly the only reason his WHIP has elevated over 1.00.
Currently, MLB Pipeline ranks Pepiot as the seventh best prospect in the entire Dodgers system.
There’s no hurry to start the clock on Pepiot. Having played in college, he’s right on time at Double-A, and if he stays consistent through the first half of the year, he might even see time at the Triple-A level before the season is complete.
As far as Pepiot’s ceiling goes, there’s been chatter among scouts about him having the talent to be a successful No. 3 MLB starter.