For as much as we discuss prospects on this site, one player we’ve yet to feature is righty pitcher Gavin Stone.
Several of our commenters have been talking about the Arkansas native for a while, even though he hasn’t really burst onto the scouting radar until this year. Stone has been making a name for himself by his ability to miss bats, as his 11.80 K/9 this season is one of the best in the organization.
The Los Angeles Dodgers chose Stone in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB draft out of the University of Central Arkansas behind a plethora of blue-chippers, including Bobby Miller, Clayton Beeter and Landon Knack.
Last year, Stone had a mediocre season throwing at both Low-A Rancho and High-A Great Lakes, posting a combined 3.76 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP over 22 starts and an even 91 innings of work. Still, his 13.6 K/9 was tops in the system in 2021 for starters, suggesting there might be better things to come.
After beginning his 2022 season at Great Lakes, he was promoted to Double-A Tulsa on May 15, causing many to believe his MLB debut might not be too far away. Across both levels this year, he has registered a ridiculous 1.33 ERA in 13 starts, alongside 80 punchouts and 15 walks in 61 innings of work.
His best game this year came on June 7 for the Drillers when he threw six full shutout innings, allowing only four hits and a walk with an incredible 13 strikeouts against Northwest Arkansas.
At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, the 23-year-old Stone’s size is one of the primary reasons he was on the board in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. However, he seems to be throwing harder as he climbs each level in the organization. After having a fastball in the 90-92 MPH range in college, he now sists around 94 and can touch as high as 98.
Stone has one of those old-school, three-quarterish deliveries that keeps hitters off balance. He has a nice mix of pitches to complement his fastball, including a plus changeup and a high-quality slider that’s deadly against righty hitters.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 19, 2022
What a lot of people don’t know about Stone is that he began his pitching career at Central Arkansas as a reliever. As the school’s featured closer in 2019, he rung up six saves with an impressive 1.52 ERA. After moving to the rotation the following year, he threw a 13-strikeout no-hitter against Southeastern Louisiana in the COVID-shortened season and hasn’t looked back as a starter since.
Stone is currently ranked as the 18th best prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, and he might see a quicker path to the majors than Beeter or Knack because he can command three high-quality pitches effectively.
Based on the way he’s throwing, there’s no way that management will yank him from his starting role anytime soon, but it might be worth noting for the future that Stone is no stranger to the closer’s role.