Thursday marked the end of the 2020 MLB draft and the beginning of the Los Angeles Dodgers 2020 Draft Review. Thanks to COVID-19, the draft was only five rounds and was done virtually. The Dodgers have often focused on young pitchers in the draft, which is why they are known for developing great arms. This year was no different. The Dodgers had six total picks in the five-round draft because of a compensatory pick after the second round. Out of those six picks, four were pitchers, one was a catcher, and one was an outfielder. Since the draft was 35 rounds shorter than usual, the undrafted signings are rumored to likely be an intense time with a flood of signings, so we will have to have an update once those take place. So let’s take a look at the six new players in the Dodgers organization via the 2020 MLB Draft.
Round 1: Bobby Miller – RHP
Bobby Miller was the Dodgers’ first pick is a right-handed pitcher out of Louisville. Miller came into the draft ranked 27th out of the top 150 Draft Prospects at MLB.com. So, they got him as a two-spot bargain. He is six-foot-five and weighs 220 pounds. That is a good frame to build off of. This is not the first time Miller was drafted. He was also drafted coming out of high school in the 38th round of the 2017 draft but opted to go to Louisville.
Miller has a ton of upside with his fastball, slider, changeup arsenal, which scouts grade at 65, 55, and 50, respectively. His fastball is his highest-rated pitch, though more for its life than velocity—sitting at an average of 95-96 MPH, and hitting 97-99 in shorter stints. As with the fastball, Miller’s other pitches have great life as well. His slider is listed as a slider/cutter because of its sinking and cutting action, which Miller throws at 85-87 MPH. Bobby’s changeup is listed as a splitter/change due to its downward break, and it is thrown in the low 80s.
Dodgers 2020 Draft Review Outlook
This movement on all his pitches is where Miller derives his swing-and-miss dominance. Miller used it to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning of the Cardinals’ NCAA super-regional playoff against East Carolina. Not only is the movement a pro, but it could also be seen as a con. There are a couple of cons that Miller has in front of him as well: the number of balls he throws and an “effort” in his delivery that causes a lot of concerns in scouts about durability and control as a starter. The Dodger organization is a great place to continue to develop into a good starter. Miller took a big step forward in increasing his strikeouts per inning this year. So, the potential is certainly there.
Round 2: Landon Knack – RHP
Landon Knack does not have many draft profiles out there because he came into it ranked by MLB.com at 112. A lot of people were likely surprised that he was scooped-up at number 60 overall, by the Dodgers. But the Dodgers have drafted a sleeper that was discounted due to injuries, not potential. Knack has huge potential with outstanding control, a four-pitch arsenal, and the maturity that comes with being a fifth-year-senior in College. First, let’s talk about the discount.
Knack has the unfortunate knack of hurting himself while diving into bases. He hurt his pitching shoulder and required labrum surgery, while diving into a base as a senior in high school. That move relegated him to Community College, where he red-shirted while recuperating from the labrum surgery. When he returned to action in 2017, he abruptly missed most of the year due to a left shoulder dislocation. Knack’s knack continued as the injury was sustained while, yep, diving into a bag. He returned from that injury to go 13-0 and even hit 11 homers. That led his Community College to finishing second in the Junior College World Series, and a promotion to East Tennessee State.
Dodgers 2020 Draft Review Outlook
Landon did not hit as a junior at East Tennessee State, and his pitches improved a bit. But he took a huge step forward that summer. Knack hit the weight room and toned up his six-foot-two frame. The extra strength bumped his fastball from an 89-92 MPH pitch, to a 93-95 MPH offering. The extra strength also added to his ability to go deeper into games. This spring, he was showing his improvements as he tore out of the gates before the shutdown. Knack led all of NCAA Division I with 51 strikeouts in only 25 innings. He was 4-0 with a microscopic ERA of 1.08, and a 51-1 K-BB ratio. Landon could end up reminding you of a Greinke-type of pitcher.
Landon is not going to blow you away with speed, even though he touched 98 in the shortened season. But what he will do is throw all of his sharpened offerings exactly where he wants to. His repertoire consists of his freshly upgraded, 60-grade fastball, 55-graded slider and change, and an improving 50-graded curveball. And, Like Greinke, Knack can hit. A little polish and he could be ready to pitch at Dodger Stadium in the near future.
Comp Round B: Clayton Beeter – RHP
It was a little bit of a surprise that Clayton Beeter was still on the board when the Dodgers picked at 66 because MLB.com had him at 51. That notwithstanding, the Dodgers selected him 66th with their competitive balance pick in Comp B. They received that pick in the Minnesota Twins trade a few months ago. The Dodgers continued their affinity for college power arms.
Most pitchers tend to transition from the role of starter to a bullpen role. Beeter is the opposite of that—transitioning from the closer at Texas Tech in his final year of college. Like the last two pitchers, he made four starts this spring and dominated. He struck out 33 in only 21 innings and struck out 12 batters in six innings in his final start against Rice. Also, he allowed zero walks or runs that game.
Clayton has three 60-grade offerings, featuring his fastball, slider, and curveball, while his changeup is sitting with his control at 50. Three-out-of-four pitches at 60 are big-league-type stuff, and though his changeup and control are at 50, they are majorly improving. As a closer, he averaged 8.7 BB/9, which he dropped to 1.7 as a starter. This is likely due to occasionally pitching around batters as a closer. The only facts are, first, that he made no changes in mechanics and vastly improved his walks per nine. Second, he has had two elbow surgeries, one being Tommy John, in the same year. This is probably what led to a pitcher with this kind of stuff coming out of the bullpen. Beeter will definitely be one to watch this year.
Round 3: Jake Vogel – HS – OF
Jake Vogel, out of Huntington Beach High School, was the Dodgers’ third-round pick and 100th overall. He was also the first non-RHP, non-college pick. Right down the road from Los Angeles County is Orange County, where the Angels are from. Huntington Beach High School is in that same area, on the coast. Jake was committed to UCLA, so we will see if he signs. MLB.com places the slot bonus value at $581,600.
Vogel grades out at 70-run, 60-throw, 50-hit/field, and a 40 at power, which will likely improve as he matures. The Dodger organization has done well in recent years at adding the pop into their prospects’ bats. With some polishing in the minors for a couple of years, and his blinding speed, it is not hard to imagine him coming out of the minors as a five-tool-player. A lot of people think that he will be able to hit at the next level, and it will be fun to keep an eye on.
Round 4: Carson Taylor – C
Carson Taylor, out of Virginia Tech came into the draft ranked 194th, but the Dodgers scooped him up at 130th overall. Carson was another one of those sleeper picks that the Dodgers are getting on a roll of. Picks whose draft status or rank was hurt by an injury that has healed, and the player has performed immediately this year. Some would probably say that Taylor was an absolute steal at 130th overall.
People may wonder why the Dodgers would pick another catcher in a farm system full of great catcher prospects. That is a valid question, especially since the Dodgers have several very talented young catchers coming up in Ruiz, Cartaya, and Wong. They also have Will Smith, who is brand new in the most-days catcher role. Taylor grades out at below average behind the plate. While he was the catcher for the beginning of his sophomore season at Virginia Tech, he split time at first base last season.
Dodgers 2020 Draft Review Outlook
Carson Taylor is not likely to stay at catcher for the Dodgers. He has already shown the ability to play multiple positions, so corner infield or outfield are all possibilities. The value is in his bat, which is also his liability. Taylor is a switch-hitter with a good amount of bat speed from either side of the plate.
Taylor has a ton of raw power, and though he walks more than he strikes out, he can’t tap into that power much, according to scouts. This is believed to be the result of getting too “pull-happy” and out-in-front on his swings, according to mlb.com. The Dodgers have done a really good job at changing timing with leg-kicks (Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger), recently. Perhaps he can utilize a leg-kick to adjust his timing and tap into that raw power more often, like Muncy. Look for him to be second basemen if he is fast enough, or at first base.
Round 5: Gavin Stone
The Dodgers used their round five, 159th overall pick on another RHP in college who is starting 2020 on fire. Gavin Stone was a junior at Central Arkansas and just made the move from reliever to starter this year. Stone was on fire before the season was cut short, with four starts, 31 strikeouts, six walks, and a 1.30 ERA. On March 6, he threw a no-hitter in his final start of the season — striking out 13.
Gavin Stone finished his collegiate career 9-6 with a 2.42 ERA, 109 strikeouts, and 33 walks in his 101 1/3 innings. That was over three seasons and capped with a no-no. It will be interesting to see what he does next. A no-hitter is great momentum to start a pro career. Stone offers a fastball in the 90-95 mph range, along with a change and an out-pitch of a slider. His best asset has been said to be his control. Control, a mid-90s fastball, change, and out-pitch slider make a good foundation to build off of. It will be interesting to see how Gavin adjusts to pro ball.
Dodgers 2020 Draft Review
The Dodgers obviously focused on right-handed power-pitchers who may be undervalued due to a problem that has been solved. Also, since they are all collegiate, it shows that they want players that are near MLB-ready. Four of the six players in the draft fit that description. They also got the catcher, who probably will start learning third base, in Carson Taylor. The only other non-pitcher was Jake Vogel, a high school outfielder.
The Dodgers have been known for acting as if they can never have too much pitching. Also, the Dodgers have been known for helping timing and swings—helping players reach their potential. The Dodgers are already deep, so this draft was a great success. They were able to continue the flow of power arms with recently fixed problems. They were also able to add a couple position players that are ready to realize their potential. The future looks bright in Los Angeles.
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