The Dodgers’ game plan coming into the 2020 MLB Draft was to beef up their pitching squad by drafting primarily college arms with top-notch stats to showcase them.
Despite the shutdown of the baseball world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dodgers showed that they came to play through their strong class of pitchers, an outfielder, and a catcher.
Here is a complete breakdown and recap of the six new members that could someday sport the blue and white at the Chavez Ravine.
Round 1, Pick 29: RHP Bobby Miller, Louisville
The Dodgers immediately hit the 2020 MLB Draft with some pitching in the first round, selecting All-American hard-throwing pitcher Bobby Miller out of Louisville. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righty was the second Cardinal pitcher drafted after teammate Reid Detmers came off the board at No. 10 by the Angels.
This is the second time the McHenry, Ill., native was drafted by an MLB team. In June 2017, the Orioles selected him in the 38th round out of high school, but he decided to attend Louisville to boost up his draft stock. He was ranked No. 26 on MLB.com’s Top 200 Prospects List.
During his freshman year in 2018, Miller finished with a 6-1 record and 2.97 ERA, struck out 55 batters in 66.2 innings, and made nine starts, earning himself All-American Honors from the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, Perfect Game, and D1 Baseball.
In 2019, the Cardinals reached the College World Series with the help of Miller, who had a 7-1 record, 3.83 ERA, 86 strikeouts and 38 walks in 80 innings pitched. The most notable highlight of his collegiate career was taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning in the NCAA Super Regional against East Carolina. This victory punched Louisville’s ticket to the College World Series.
Fast forward to the righty’s junior year that was cut short due to the pandemic, where he started off hot, with a 2-0 record in four appearances, 2.31 ERA, and 34 strikeouts in 23.1 innings.
Based on Miller’s stats alone, it is clear why the Dodgers selected a big, right-handed flame thrower in the first round.
According to MLB.com, Miller possesses a three-pitch package primarily highlighting his fastball, which averages 95-96 MPH but worked at 97-99 MPH in later appearances. He has batters miss with “a slider [and] cutter that usually operates at 85-87 [MPH]” and peaks at 90 MPH. The Illinois native also utilizes a splitter-changeup combo with late movement and pitch speed in the low-80s.
Miller’s submarine delivery limits his pitching control and command, which can hurt a pitcher’s longevity in a full nine-inning game.
Round 2, Pick 60: RHP Landon Knack, East Tennessee State
Round 2 was committed to pitching once again, as the Dodgers drafted Landon Knack out of East Tennessee State with the 60th pick. With MLB.com labeling him as “the best fifth-year senior prospect in years,” the 6-foot-1, 215-pound righty has a “knack” (get it?) for throwing strikes as he threw 16 strikeouts in a game during the 2020 season, setting a new program record.
The Johnson City, Tenn., native finished with a 4-0 record in four starts, a 1.08 ERA, 51 strikeouts and only one walk, leading the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 51 to 1. Knack was ranked No. 112 on MLB.com’s Top 200 Prospects.
After a series of injuries between 2015 and 2017, he bounced back the following year, finishing with a 13-0 record and 11 home runs to lead Walters State Community College (Tenn.) to the 2018 Junior College World Series.
According to Baseball America, Knack’s fastball improved to “97-98 MPH at his best and is 92-95 [MPH] deep into his outings.” MLB.com highlights the improvement in his slider while adding more power to his curveball and developing a feel for his changeup.
His maturity and strikeout-to-walk ratio will help him in the long run if he continues to develop his secondary pitches in the minors. It is a good starting point, but it is clear from scouting reports that he needs to improve his skills as a potential starter, which he will have a solid opportunity to do in the Dodgers’ farm system.
Round 2, Competitive Balance Round B, Pick 66: RHP Clayton Beeter, Texas Tech
Six picks later, the Dodgers continued with the right-handed, college power arms path by selecting RHP Clayton Beeter of Texas Tech with the 66th pick.
The former Red Raider has a history of elbow operations to his name, starting with Tommy John surgery in December 2017, followed by an arthroscopic procedure in 2018. However, in 2019, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Colleyville, Tex., native led the Red Raiders to their fourth College World Series in six seasons as the No. 8 national seed.
As a redshirt freshman, Beeter finished with a 0-3 record, 3.48 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 20 walks in 20.2 innings pitched. He also recorded eight saves as the Red Raiders’ closer.
However, what really caught scouts’ attention was his impressive progress in 2020, when the righty moved into a starter role and actually added more velocity to his pitches rather than losing it due to longer stints. MLB.com notes that his fastball typically sits at 93-96 MPH and peaks at 98. He also has a curveball in the low-80s and a slider in the mid-80s, along with some rare flashes of his changeup.
Beeter’s injury concerns raise some eyebrows but he could excel as a reliever or starter due to the versatility of his pitches. If he stays healthy, Beeter is easily a steal for the Dodgers.
Round 3, Pick 100: OF Jake Vogel, Huntington Beach High School (Calif.)
The Dodgers stepped away from the pitching pool and decided to go with an outfield boost by selecting Jake Vogel out of Huntington Beach High School with the 100th pick.
Vogel is ranked No. 82 on MLB.com’s Top 200, No. 59 by Prep Baseball Report and No. 15 by Perfect Game. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound UCLA commit ran a 6.15 60-yard dash who utilizes “his lower half well to help generate bat speed,” according to Perfect Game.
During the 2020 season, Vogel was batting .536 with three home runs, three triples, 12 RBI, and six stolen bases and was named Second Team All-Surf League in 2019.
He may be undersized, but his speed and strong wrists allow him to be a dangerous contact hitter, base-stealing threat, and defender for the Dodgers if he signs.
Round 4, Pick 130: C Carson Taylor, Virginia Tech
In the fourth round, the Dodgers switched things up and added a field general in switch-hitting catcher Carson Taylor out of Virginia Tech with the 130th pick. He is ranked No. 194 on MLB.com’s Top 200 Prospects.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound catcher made an immediate impact on the field during his freshman year in 2019, batting .290 with two home runs, 19 RBI, and 20 walks in 36 games. His season was cut short due to a broken hamate bone.
Taylor did bounce back in 2020, batting .431 in 16 games with two home runs, 20 RBIs, and 19 runs. He led the Hokies in runs, doubles, RBI, OBP (.541), OPS (1.231) and batting average. The Duluth, Ga., native was also added to the 2020 Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award watch list.
MLB.com reports some concerns about the switch-hitter, describing his receiving skills as below-average and mentioning that he is pull-happy in the batter’s box. There is a chance that Taylor could move to the infield or right and left field in the future.
Round 5, Pick 159: RHP Gavin Stone, Central Arkansas
The Dodgers completed the 2020 Draft by selecting right-hander Gavin Stone out of Central Arkansas.
Stone’s career started off a bit rocky in 2018, when he went 2-2 in 12 appearances with a 5.33 ERA, 20 strikeouts, and 16 walks in 25.1 innings pitched.
However, the Arkansas native flipped the switch during his sophomore campaign in 2019, posting a 1.52 ERA in 20 appearances and striking out 58 batters while walking 11 in 47.1 innings.
During the 2020 season, Stone went 3-1 with an impressive 1.30 ERA, 31 strikeouts and only six walks in 27.2 innings. He recorded a no-hitter against Southeastern Louisiana in his final game, striking out 13 batters.
The Boys in Blue have shown that they mean business in this year’s draft. Recent drafts in the Andrew Freidman years have featured the Dodgers being more selective and cautious of their picks and now they have an exciting class to look forward to within the next few years, especially with their up-and-coming pitching staff of strong arms and heavy heat.