The Los Angeles Dodgers used their picks to target pitching in a big way in the 2021 draft. The first 14 of their picks, and 17 out of their 19 total picks were pitchers. The first two picks of the draft for the Dodgers are straight out of high school. The Dodgers chose Maddux Bruns with the 29th overall pick in the draft. Then the Dodgers selected Peter Heubeck with the 101st pick–in the third round. The Dodgers vacated their second-round pick to sign Trevor Bauer because he received a qualifying offer from the Cincinnati Reds. The next 12 Dodgers draft picks were used solely on college pitchers.
What the Dodgers seem to be most interested in with their pitching targets is the ability to strike batters out. It seems that the Dodgers are willing to work with pitchers on command, and not necessarily focus on ERA or WHIP, as long as the player can strike out more than one batter per inning of work. In fact, the Dodgers used most of their picks to target pitching in the draft that can strike out batters at a much higher rate than one per inning.
Dodgers Target High School Pitching First and Second
Maddux Bruns is a left-handed pitcher who has already hit 97 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball. He attended UMS Wright Prep School in Mobile, Alabama. His slider will make batters swing and miss. Bruns also has a curveball and changeup that are good for his age, so the Dodgers have a lot to work with already. The only caveat is that Bruns has control issues, so he needs to work on that in the future. MLB had Bruns ranked at number 49 on its draft board, but the Dodgers selected him with pick number 29. The bump up in the draft selection may cause Bruns to choose the pros over Mississippi State University, where he committed previously.
Peter Heubeck is a right-handed pitcher who can hit 94 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball. Peter attended Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland. Heubeck has a smooth, easy delivery and has a curveball and change-up to go along with his heater. At six-foot-three and 170-pounds, he probably has room to add some weight to his slender frame. Heubeck already has good control. In the summer circuits from 2018-2020, Peter pitched to a 1.20 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and struck out 50 batters versus only 11 walks in 28 innings. The Dodgers selected Peter with pick number 101 in round three of the draft. If he decides to go to college instead of the Dodgers, Heubeck committed to play for Wake Forest University.
College Pitching Targets Selected Third and Fourth
Nick Nastrini was the third choice by the Dodgers in the 2021 draft. The right-handed pitcher currently attends UCLA and will be heading into his junior season if he decides not to sign with the Dodgers. The six-foot-three 215-pound hurler pitched to an ugly 6.89 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, but struck out 48 batters in 31 1/3 innings for the Bruins in 2021. He also walked 38 batters and had nine wild pitches. But, opposing batters only averaged a measly .168 against Nastrini. This may be why the Dodgers selected Nick with pick number 131 in the fourth round when he was ranked number 248. If the Dodgers can help Nastrini with his command, then they have someone who has already hit 98 MPH on the radar gun.
Ben Casparius was selected with the fourth pick of the Dodgers. The six-foot, 208-pound right-handed pitcher currently attends the University of Connecticut. Ben will be heading into his senior season at Uconn if he decides not to sign with the Dodgers. His pitch mix is a low-to-mid 90s fastball combined with a slider and change-up. In 2021, Casparius pitched to a 4.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and struck out 127 batters versus 36 walks in 91 2/3 innings for the Huskies. Opposing batters averaged only .205 against Casparius. His 127 strikeouts were second all-time at Uconn for a single season and also 12th in the country in 2021. The Dodgers selected Casparius in the fifth round with pick number 162 overall.
Dodgers Target Pitching, Pitching, and More Pitching
Emmet Sheehan is a six-foot-five righty out of Boston College. Emmet is a starting pitcher who struck out 106 batters in 76 2/3 innings to lead the Eagles in 2021, which amounts to 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Sheehan also hit 13 batters, walked 34, and pitched to a 4.23 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.
Ryan Sublette is a six-foot-two right-hand throwing senior from Texas Tech University. The reliever pitched to a 2.34 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, held opposing batters to a .183 average, and struck out 62 batters in 42 1/3 innings, which amounts to 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings for the Red Raiders.
Ben Harris is a reliever from the University of Georgia who pitched to an extraordinary 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings for the Bulldogs. The lefty held opposing batters to an unsightly .125 average while pitching to a 2.33 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and struck out 66 batters versus 28 walks in 38 2/3 innings of work.
Lael Lockhart is a starting pitcher from the University of Arkansas. The lefty struck out 68 batters versus only 17 walks in 58 1/3 innings for the Razorbacks, so he seems to have a good command of the zone.
Michael Hobbs is a right-handed reliever from St. Mary’s College in California. In 19 games in 2021, Hobbs compiled a 0.72 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .172 opponent’s batting average, six saves, and 28 strikeouts versus 10 walks across 25 innings of work.
Dodgers Target More College Pitching
Justin Wrobleski is a left-hander from Oklahoma State University. The starting pitcher held batters to a .199 average while striking out 50 versus 26 walks in 40 2/3 innings for the Cowboys. Wrobleski was previously drafted 1,078th overall in 2018 by the Seattle Mariners.
Ronan Kopp is a six-foot-seven lefty from South Mountain Community College in Arizona. The starter and reliever amassed a 2.84 ERA with 38 strikeouts but also walked 25 batters in 25 1/3 innings in his freshman season. This amounts to 13.50 strikeouts and just under nine walks per nine innings.
Antonio Knowles is a right-hander from Florida Southwestern State College. The reliever amassed a 1.35 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 16.20 strikeouts per nine innings, 13 saves, 72 strikeouts versus only five walks, and held opposing batters to a .164 average in 40 innings during his sophomore season.
Jordan Leasure is a right-handed relief pitcher from the University of Tampa. Jordan pitched to a 0.94 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 14.09 strikeouts per nine innings, and six saves. Leasure held opponents to a .145 batting average while striking out 60 versus only 4 walks across 38 1/3 innings.
Madison Jeffrey is a right-hander from West Virginia University. The reliever pitched to a 6.75 ERA, 2.20 WHIP, and struck out 28 batters versus 23 walks in 20 innings. Jeffrey struck out 12.6 batters per nine innings in 2021.
The String Is Broken, Position Player Drafted
Michael Sirota is a right-hand hitting and throwing shortstop from The Gunnery School in Connecticut. Sirota is the third and final player selected out of high school by the Dodgers. He has a strong arm at short but is tall and slender. This leads people to think that he may not remain a shortstop for very long, but he would not be the first tall shortstop for the Dodgers.
Adam Tulloch is a starting and relief pitcher from West Virginia University. Adam struck out 52 batters versus 31 walks in 37 1/3 innings, which amounts to 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Damon Keith is a right-hand hitting and throwing outfielder from California Baptist University. Damon batted to a .336/.434/.588 slash line with 13 home runs, 44 runs batted in, 12 stolen bases, 57 runs scored, 35 walks, and an OPS of 1.022 during his sophomore season. Keith also had 18 multi-hit games during the 56 game season.
Gabe Emmett is a right-handed starting pitcher from Folsom Lake College in California. Emmett pitched to a 3.38 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, and 9.75 strikeouts per nine innings during his freshman season.
Charlie Connolly is a right-handed pitcher who attends the Naval Academy in Maryland. Charlie pitched to a 4.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings during his senior season.
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