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 Welcome New York Yankees to Dodger Stadium

For the most part, the Los Angeles Dodgers keep plugging away. Plugging in players and pitchers when another has a slump, or has inexplicably imploded on the mound.

And yet, the team is still tied for first in the NL West with the (still!) productive Arizona Diamondbacks, tied for best record in the NL, and third in all of the major leagues.

It’s really not too bad for a team that feels like there’s a new injury or bad reliever every other day.

The offense has definitely been producing, leading the NL in home runs, runs, slugging, and OPS. They also lead the NL in taking their walks.

One player in particular has been on another planet as of late.

On Friday, Freddie Freeman was named the National League Player of the Month for May.

Freddie posted a whopping .400 average, six home runs, 26 RBI, and a 1.184 OPS. He also is currently in the middle of a 21 game hitting streak. Freddie also leads all baseball in total bases so far in 2023, with 1,214.

Freeman and the Dodgers now welcome the New York Yankees and Aaron Judge to Chavez Ravine. Judge is Freeman’s counterpart in the AL, taking home his own Player of the Month award. He returned from an injury May 9th, and took off. He doubled Freddie’s home run amount with 12, batted .342, and had 25 RBI and a 1.356 OPS.

The Yankees started their season slow, mired in the basement of the AL East for weeks. They now have started surging, and are up to third in what is the best division in all of baseball, with all five teams having a winning record.

The Yankees will also have Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton returning to the team from their respective IL stints, adding even more power to this already powerful lineup.

Clayton Kershaw will be the first to face the Yankees, Friday night. Kersh has not pitched well his last three starts, but it sure to be fired up for this matchup at home. He will face Luis Severino who has only pitched 11.1 innings so far for the Yankees, but has a 1.59 ERA, allowing one homer and striking out 10.

Saturday will see Gerrit Cole, who is 6-0 on the season, facing Micheal Grove, who made one start and went on the IL. Sunday will be Domingo Germán and Bobby Miller who looks to get his third win on the season.

On Friday before the game, Manager Dave Roberts spoke to the media. He stated that the Dodgers have decided that Noah Syndergaard will make his next start, in Cincinnati. There has been some discussion of whether or not that would happen, but the Dodgers seem intent to try to let Thor have as long as possible to try to figure things out. Syndergaard has allowed five and six runs in his last two outings, and seems uneven at best. So far, even Mark Prior does not seem to be able to work his magic with the once top-tier pitcher.

“When he makes that start, I’m going to feel the same way I do every time he takes the mound. That he’s going to pitch well and it’s going to turn,” said Roberts. Let’s hope that Doc’s never gets being optimistic output comes true.

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.

Dodgers Look to Finish Road Trip Strong in Tampa Bay

Last week, we talked about how the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff was going to have a big test ahead of them on their current road trip. As with everything else this season, some unexpected things happened in that regard, good and bad.

The Dodgers started their trip in St. Louis, and lost the last three of that four game series. Clayton Kershaw, still dealing with his mother’s recent death, only lasted 3.2 in the finale of the series, one of the shortest outings of his entire career. Tony Gonsolin was the only one who allowed no runs that series. However, he only lasted 5.0 innings because his pitch count got too high in the process.

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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 Pitching Will Be Tested on Longest Road Trip of Season

The Los Angeles Dodgers are embarking on their longest road trip of the season, which will take them to three cities for 10 games.

The team was the last in the majors to play any American League teams, but finished their last home stand by taking two of three from the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins.

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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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Dodgers Injury News and Notes – Syndergaard, Buehler Update and More

If the Los Angeles Dodgers could somehow manage to maintain their pace of one clunker game followed by two to three good ones, well then they’d be in great shape at the end of the season.

The Dodgers just finished a road trip which took them to San Diego and Milwaukee. The first game of each series was not great, but they managed to scrape two hard fought wins in San Diego, and then cruise to another two wins in Milwaukee.

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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 Look to Carry Momentum into San Diego

What a difference a week makes.

Last Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers were starting a home stand after going a very uneven 4-3 on the road against the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.

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