With the Dodgers, and every other MLB team heading into 2020 with a 60-man roster, we’re in line to see an unprecedented amount of young arms breaking into the bigs for reps. The circumstances of the 2020 season has put practically all Minor Leaguers in jeopardy, but MLB has done what it can to assure a place for kids in need of development with the big league roster.
The Dodgers have always been a premier club for top young talent hitting developmental strides at the major league level, but this year Dave Roberts will find himself walking a tightrope between balancing the at-bats/innings of top prospects and promising rookies alongside the playing time of the usual starting nine. This is a Dodgers team whose starting rotation is so jam-packed with top talent it took the opt-out of David Price to open up a starting spot for the veteran and former NL All-Star Ross Stripling. A prime example for how hard playing time will be to come by in 2020.
Given the large assortment of prospects who will be holding down spots on the 60-man roster on both the pitching and hitting side, we’ll just focus on the potential pitchers we may see making strong impacts sometime during the 2020 season. More importantly, we’ll be focusing on a trio of pitchers who have yet to log MLB time in their very young careers.
Is it possible we’ll be seeing pitchers who haven’t pitched a single inning above Double-A find reps with the Major League squad?
Everything and anything is up for grabs in this 2020 season; this is a year where the usual MVP candidates can be outpaced by streaky hitters, anyone with a strong two month stretch can be in line for Cy Young, every team can be in line for a playoff spot, and Double-A pitchers can work MLB time.
The Dodgers happen to have a few burgeoning pitchers making their own special rises through the system and with the addition of the 60 man roster it seems there will be opportunity for prospects without a minor league season to chase MLB debuts.
Marshall Kasowski RHP
One of the more interesting pitchers heading into the 2020 season with potential MLB reps is 25-year-old right-hander Marshall Kasowski. The 2017 draft pick out of West Texas A&M, Kasowski may very well be the most storied prospect making the 60 man roster. A severe car accident in 2015 nearly derailed his career and complications from the accident, requiring gallbladder surgery, forced a shortened 2016 season at the University of Houston.
Up to this point, Kasowski had seen somewhat limited baseball action; his first and only stint with his high-school varsity team came in his season senior year which was shortened by illness, though he did earn a First-Team All-Conference spot at the community college Panola the following year. Kasowski left the University of Houston in 2016 to pursue a full-time starting opportunity with West Texas A&M University and dominated with 165 Ks in 93.1 innings of 2.22 ERA baseball.
After many years, obstacles, and multiple schools, Marshall Kasowski’s career began to take form.
His development has stayed consistent throughout his three MiLB seasons so far and it’s reflected in his numbers; in total he’s thrown 107.2 innings through Single-A to Double-A while striking out 177 total hitters. Kasowski is predominately a fastball pitcher who employs his secondary solely for change-of-pace looks. His fastball absolutely befuddles hitters as it comes across the zone with profound zip paired up with nice movement and deceptive delivery thanks to an arm slot which sees him practically release the ball from behind his head. A lot can be said about a pitcher who makes a 98mph fastball look like it’s flying out of his ear and that shows in Kasowskis 14.5 K/9 through the 2019 season.
His low 70’s curveball has a solid hook to it and offers strong velocity differential from his hard fastball, but command issues stand in the way of it being a truly above average pitch and the same stands for his change which rates lower than his curve; as it stands his changeup is just a mix up from his curveball which in itself is just a mix-up pitch, though his curveball has potential to develop into significance once his command levels out. The main issue with the power-baller happens to be control and his struggles to limit walks, though he has shown ability to work major league at-bats competently with his spring training and intrasquad reps.
Kasowski rates as a high-end bullpen piece and one of the more potentially electric young bullpen arms in the Dodgers system. He stands to develop into a high-leverage reliever, potentially a closer, and the 2020 season may see him work into form with low-leverage relief innings. His command needs some work before he can see suitable innings pitched, so it’s likely he’ll pitch in the lowest of the low-leverage situations until he can prove that he can consistently hit the zone and work hitters outside of his fastball. He doesn’t need to bring dominating presence with his secondaries to find MLB success, he just needs to be able to throw mix-ups that hitters won’t immediately spit on as it comes out of his hand.
Victor Gonzalez LHP
Kasowski is far from the only prospect pitcher looking to snatch up MLB innings this year. There are a couple other eye-catching pitchers who are aiming for big league action — though these two have recently touched Triple A. Those pitchers being Victor Gonzalez and Mitchell White, who actually happen to rank in the Top 30 Prospects list for the Dodgers (Kasowski does not appear on this list). Although Gonzalez (21st ranked Dodgers prospect) has only seen a short 14 innings of work in Triple-A Mitchell White (11th ranked Dodgers prospect) has eaten up a fair serving of 63.2 innings at Oklahoma City.
Victor Gonzalez was picked up in 2012 in a star-studded Dodgers international signing spree that included future Major Leaguers Yasiel Puig and Julio Urias, though he himself has not seen the same relatively smooth ride to the Majors as his contemporaries have. Gonzalez saw himself exposed to the Rule 5 Draft three years in a row, essentially designating Gonzalez as a non-essential within the Dodgers organization. He was finally added to the 40-man this past offseason.
The Dodgers today added LHP Victor González to the 40-man roster.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 31, 2019
Gonzalez has a limited strikeout ability which didn’t play well with his inability to limit hits and his command issues, he actually sported a 13.6 H9 in across 33.2 innings of Low A/Rookie Ball in 2018. In fact. Gonzalez was rocked for a 7.49 ERA across those 33.2 innings pitched in 2018, these numbers painting a clear picture as to why the 24-year-old saw three straight exposures to the Rule 5 Draft.
Things changed considerably in 2019 after a sudden developmental spurt saw the left-handed pitcher emerge as a top prospect after climbing from Class A Advanced to Triple-A thanks to a considerable improvement in command alongside consistency in delivery, which subsequently brought great life to his repertoire. Gonzalez had already seen his velocity catch fire after jumping nearly 10mph over the last few seasons with his fastball now touching 98mph while sitting regularly in the high-mid 90s.
Backing up his riding fastball is a strong slider that plays well on right-handed hitters, these two pitches standing out at the front of his repertoire. His newfound consistency in delivery carries a palpable deception through his delivery and on top that he isn’t afraid to show off passion and energy on the mound. Don’t be surprised to see Gonzalez establish himself as a fan favorite thanks to his raw, explosive “made-for-LA” energy. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see some of that energy in LA sometime this upcoming season. His consistency is begging to be tested with notable 2020 reps, and without a Minor League to find reps in the Dodgers would find it in their better interests to find a little space for the young man to work in 2020.
Mitchell White RHP
If you’ve kept your eye on the Dodgers intrasquad games, you’ll have spotted these prime prospect talents rubbing elbows with the usual Dodger stars.
Prospect Mitchell White on the bump for the Dodgers in white today. Potentially big name to watch this season.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) July 10, 2020
Another young standout in LA organization is the aforementioned RHP Mitchell White, a 25-year-old power pitcher who currently sits in the 11th spot of the Dodgers Top 30 prospects. White has pitched through four MiLB seasons with his 2019 season being the first in which he saw Triple-A reps. Unfortunately, inconsistency plagued White’s ability to find success through his Triple-A debut season. In 63.2 innings of work White worked himself to a 6.50 ERA off of 73 hits and 24 walks alongside 68 total strikeouts. Inconsistency and difficulty adjusting to a higher level seriously hampered White throughout the season; his fastball saw a noticeable, near 5 mph dip after jumping from Double-A to Triple-A while season long blister issues prevented White from finding any real comfort zone during his Triple-A stretch. His breaking pitches also lost a noticeable amount of edge after his promotion.
As is usual for developing prospects, the results aren’t always the end of the story. The talent level is at a premium with White, despite being a 2nd round pick in 2016 the Dodgers then VP of baseball ops Alex Anthopolus considered his talent to be that of a number 1 overall pick. Mitchell White, at his best, is a big bodied power pitcher who flashes a sharp FB that can touch 98 while also sporting a hammering curveball very capable of generating swings and misses. He has the potential to eat up innings as a starting pitcher, though he has shown himself injury prone and unable to finish off a full season. He also struggles against left-handed hitters, especially with a change-up that is lacking.
Mitchell White, given his experience at the Triple-A level, may be closer in line to big league time than any other prospect in the organization. Despite his struggles in Triple-A in 2019, White is one of the top talents in the LA farm system. Numbers aren’t everything for developing prospects, sometimes bad numbers show a prospect grinding through developmental difficulties and sometimes good numbers hide an athlete’s true flaws which then become exposed at higher levels.
This is just a quick look at a trio of Dodger prospects who might surface in 2020. We’ll be going over prospect profiles and prospect updates as the season trudges forward, so be sure to keep an eye on Dodgers Nation for your latest and most up-to-date, informative prospect news.