Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Jonny DeLuca

Although the news is not official at the time of this writing, it appears that the Los Angeles Dodgers will promote outfield prospect Jonny DeLuca to the big-league club in place of Trayce Thompson, who apparently suffered an oblique strain when he attempted to check a swing in Saturday night’s middle game against the Yankees.

Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic was among the first to report the news hours after the Dodgers suffered the 6-3 defeat.

At the time of his promotion, the 24-year-old DeLuca is hitting an impressive .292/.378/.952 with 14 homers and 11 doubles after splitting his time with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City this season.

DeLuca is an interesting choice for a number of characteristics, specifically because his game gained some significant promise when he changed from being a switch-hitter to exclusively hitting from the right side of the plate a few years back. The other intriguing thing is that the 6-foot-0, 200-pounder has blazing speed. His range in the outfield is superb, as is his speed on the base paths, having stole 58 out of 63 bags over his short minor league career.

Despite having an average arm, DeLuca can comfortably and reliably handle all three outfield spots. Between Tulsa and OKC this season, the Thousand Oaks native has played 10 games in left, 16 games in center and 22 games in right field.

The Dodgers originally selected DeLuca in the 25th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of the University of Oregon. In high school, he was a standout long jumper and sprinter at Agoura High in Agoura Hills, California. He received numerous track scholarships and was drafted in the 39th round by the Twins in the 2017 MLB Draft, but he decided to play baseball with the Ducks.

The Dodgers added DeLuca to the 40-man roster last winter to protect him from the impending Rule 5 draft. MLB Pipeline currently ranks the youngster as the 20th best prospect in the system.

According to MLB Pipeline, DeLuca “has gotten considerably stronger since turning pro and developed solid raw power that he maximizes by looking to pull and lift pitches. His pop also plays to the opposite field and he’s able to drive the ball without sacrificing contact.”

Although Thompson is an above-average defender, the Dodgers aren’t losing much on offense. In 87 plate appearances, he was hitting just .155/.310/.366, going 11-for-71 with five extra-base hits, all of which were homers.

It will be interesting to see where and how much the Dodgers use DeLuca, considering Mookie Betts, James Outman, Jason Heyward, Chris Taylor and David Peralta are all in the regular outfield mix. So far this season, DeLuca has a .409 average against southpaws and a .250 average against righty pitching, so my guess is we might see him gain some significant plate time against left-handed pitchers.

Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Landon Knack

If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, looking at the current starting pitching injuries and the depth chart throughout the organization is borderline scary. Headlining the injury list right now is a quintet of relatively big names in Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove, a group that could probably represent an entire rotation for a smaller market team.

So far this year, we’ve seen just about every starting arm on the organizational 40-man roster in the majors. Usually, the Dodgers have a handful of starters on the fringe, but that’s certainly not the case this year. Righty Andre Jackson is about the only halfway decent option available at Triple-A Oklahoma City, but he could be activated on any given day to add to his frequent flyer miles, primarily when considering how poorly Gavin Stone has performed.

The crazy thing is that the remaining big guns at OKC are a bunch of 30-something never-has-beens in Matt Andriese, Robbie Erlin and William Cuevas. Andriese and Erlin are tied for the team lead with 10 starts apiece, but both have pitched relatively poorly in the hitter-friendly confines of the Pacific Coast league, compiling 4.81 and 6.89 ERAs, respectively.

About the only thing close resembling a high-quality starter right now in the minors is 25-year-old righty Landon Knack, who has gotten off to one of his best minor league seasons since being drafted by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft.

Through his first nine starts of 2023 at Double-A Tulsa, Knack has posted a 1.32 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP with 45 punchouts over 41 innings of work. His last start came last Wednesday against Northwest Arkansas when he threw seven full innings of shutout ball, surrendering just four hits and no walks while striking out six batters.

The 6-foot-2 Knack’s season has been night and day compared to last year, when he compiled a 2-10 record with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.407 WHIP over 17 starts and 64-2/3 innings, all at Tulsa.

After being considered close to MLB ready after the draft, the Tennessee native spent a short time of the 2021 season at High-A Great Lakes before being promoted to Tulsa, a place where he has stagnated. His progress has been hampered by a few hamstring issues — much to the disappointment to the organization. However, his promising start to the 2023 campaign has given management, coaches and fans a glimmer of hope.

One of the things that sets Knack apart from other starting pitching prospects is his decent command. He has a four-pitch arsenal with a four-seam, a slider a change and a curve, although his slider is by far his best out pitch. His fastball typically sits in the 92-95 MPH range, but it topped as high as 98 MPH last season at Tulsa. His curve is still developing despite having one of the best spin rates in the system.

MLB Pipeline currently ranks Knack as the 18th best prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, stating, “He still has one of the higher floors among Dodgers pitching prospects, but his ceiling of a mid-rotation starter is further away than it was a year ago.”

Baseball Prospectus profiles Knack as an “innings-eating, back-of-the-end rotation starter.”

To say at the beginning of the season that Knack had a legit shot to make his MLB debut in 2023 would have been borderline ludicrous. However, if he continues to throw at his current rate throughout the All-Star break and the Los Angeles starting rotation picture worsens as the season progresses, nothing would be surprising.

How Active Will Dodgers Be at 2023 MLB Trade Deadline?

At this point, it’s probably a given that the Los Angeles Dodgers will make at least a few moves at the 2023 MLB summer trade deadline. The big question, though, is whether the team will make a big splash having an immediate impact.

Several weeks ago, many fans felt that it could take a little time for the 2023 version of the Dodgers to develop. However, as the 50-game mark of the campaign approaches, it’s probably safe to say this is one of the most inconsistent teams we’ve seen in recent years. Although Los Angeles is barely holding on to first place in the NL West, it’s still hard to say how the rest of the field will shape up as the season progresses.

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Dodgers Sweep Padres in Weekend Series, Extend Winning Streak

Tony Gonsolin threw five scoreless innings and Mookie Betts hit a two-run homer in the third frame to propel the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-0 victory over the San Diego Padres at home on Sunday, securing the series sweep while maintaining their three-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.

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Ronan Kopp: Future Closer for Dodgers?

Relief pitching is a topic fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers take very seriously. We seemingly begin putting a hypothetical bullpen together from the days following the last contest of the World Series the whole way through the final Cactus League games of spring training. The days and weeks leading up to the trade deadline are especially exciting, as front-office boss Andrew Friedman and his crew have always been known to add an interesting piece or two for the stretch run of the season.

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Dodgers Sweep Cardinals at Home, Prepare for Phillies to Finish Homestand

Chris Taylor went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and Noah Syndergaard earned his first win of the season, propelling the Dodgers to a 6-3 home win on Sunday against the Cardinals and securing the series sweep.

Aside from Clayton Kershaw’s sparkling performance on Saturday, there really weren’t any major signs that the Dodgers are changing course from an average-performing team to an excellent one. The Cardinals fell to 10-19 on the season and fifth place in the NL Central, suggesting that the Los Angeles sweep isn’t as significant as some pundits make it out to be.

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Dodgers Take Weekend Series from Cubs in Chicago

Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBI and Clayton Kershaw threw six strong innings to propel the Los Angeles Dodgers to a victory on Sunday, securing a much-needed series win against a high-quality National League opponent.

The lone scar of the series was a 14-0 shellacking on Friday, a game in which the Los Angeles offense was completely dormant against veteran starter Drew Smyly.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Michael Busch Sizzling at Triple-A Oklahoma City

Although there have been quite a few players on the Dodgers who have had their share of ups and downs offensively so far during the young season, there’s one at the Triple-A level who’s been reaching base as much as ever.

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Dodgers Drop Three Straight in Arizona, Prepare for San Francisco

The first time the Dodgers played the Diamondbacks this year in a four-game series in Los Angeles, it was a lack of offense that prevented the Dodgers from winning the series. In a four-game rematch in Arizona this time around, Los Angeles simply got beat on both sides of the ball.

Whether Arizona exposed a potential vulnerability in the Los Angeles pitching staff — or whether the Snakes were firing on all cylinders with their bats — it remains to be seen what type of team the Dodgers really are right now. Regardless, the Diamondbacks outscored the Dodgers 29-17 over the final three games to capture the three-games -to-one series victory.

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Double-A Tulsa’s Opening Day Roster Loaded with Top Prospects

The season opening roster for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers has been finalized. The list features several top prospects within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, including five players currently on the Dodgers 40-man major league roster.

Of the 28 players who have been assigned to Tulsa, 18 have previously played for the Drillers.

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