May 28th, 2023 Scoreboard
First things first, the most important thing that happened on the Dodger farm, nay, the entire organization on Sunday: Emmet Sheehan picked up his first career PA, one that ended with him drawing a walk and getting an RBI:
Sheehan was required to get in the box after catcher Carson Taylor left the game due to injury and the designated hitter of the day, Diego Cartaya, was forced to abandon the position to don the tools of ignorance in Taylor’s stead. Enter the 6’5, blonde guy, who got the boots with the fur, turns out (sound on):
Big hat tip to Cody for making my dream come alive by putting this together.
Anyway, however the PA-turned-bit-of-art came about, congrats to Emmet Sheehan; he’s struck out guys both before and since, but this is the thing he will lord over that epic Tulsa pitching staff — his insurmountable lead over them all in RBI and on-base percentage. Stay jealous, boys.
Now on to the hurling exploits, because the former Boston College Golden Eagle wrapped up an epic month of May with yet another brilliant outing:
As of this writing, I don’t know that the 23-year-old will be promoted (this is not a cryptic hint, I have nothing here), but he has certainly earned it:
The Dodgers do things on their own time, but working in Sheehan’s favor in terms of a promotion in the near term is a fastball that is, to this #notascout, the best in the system, and might even be the best in minor league baseball. It is a legit, high 90s, high spin, low vertical approach angle, swing and miss heater. The rarest of carrying tools — the kind that anchors a young pitcher to the rotation.
About that — every now and then, you will hear that term, carrying tool, which is attributed to a thing a ballplayer does so well that it can be the basis of a career. Usually it’s just a glove — there have been any number of slick-fielding, banjo-hitting acrobats who anchored a bench by capably fielding anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes it’s elite speed (Billy Hamilton) or pop (Joey Gallo). Sometimes it’s an individual pitch, usually landing a guy a long career as a reliever with that one weird trick (Jesse Orosco‘s slider, and maybe some cutter guy you’ve heard of), but now and then it sticks a guy a starting pitcher, too (D. Mountain, anyone?).
It’s rare to find a carrying tool that is the basis for an everyday player or starting pitcher career. It is my opinion that Emmet Sheehan’s fastball has the capability of being such a pitch. I think he can stand to improve location of the pitch, especially vertically, pitch to pitch changing eye levels, and locating to the lower corners, but thus far its characteristics have been enough to power through the competition, especially when paired with a Bugs Bunny changeup and a slider that flashes plus.
For me, though Dustin and I are a long ways off from the Midseason Prospect List update, with the quality of the fastball, the prototypical size, a repertoire on the rise, age, and how the arm works, Sheehan is the first big time prospect mover of the season. He has separated himself from the pack, and has vaulted into the top five prospects in the system.
6th round pick. 192nd overall. This is why you hire and retain very good scouts and coaches.
As for that aforementioned Tulsa rotation, it again includes a returned Nick Frasso, who looked every bit himself after getting on the mound in a game for the first time in three weeks:
Welcome back, indeed.
The former Palos Verdes Peninsula High School Panther left his outing on May 6th with what was described as a “shoulder cramp”. The Dodgers, as ever, exercised all due caution and then some, limiting Frasso to 35 pitches in his return engagement, which is a far cry from the count of 75, a number he had previously reached twice this season.
So, what does that mean for Frasso’s ramp-up going forward? An answer might lie in the club’s handling of Bobby Miller in late 2021.
Miller reached as many as 74 pitches before hitting the IL in late-July due to an undisclosed injury. He returned at the beginning of September, tossing 39 pitches in his first trip back to the bump. In his subsequent three outings (the last of which preceded the season’s end), he would toss 46, 57, and 62 pitches. A similarly gradual increase could be in the offing for Frasso, and this #notascout will definitely be watching, as trends like this are rarely stumbled upon with such a water-tight organization.
Maddux Bruns, High-A pitcher of the week? He has certainly done everything within his power to make it happen, as he tossed 4.0 IP scoreless on Sunday, allowing 3 hits, walking 1, and striking out 6:
This put his line for the week at a very good 8.0 IP, 5 hits, 0 runs, 2 BBs, and 11 Ks.
The 20-year-old southpaw is on a heck of a roll — despite having never reached the mark prior to this season, Bruns has now tossed 4.0 IP with Great Lakes in three consecutive outings, and his ERA over that timeframe is 0.75. He is accomplishing this largely by attacking with his plus-plus breaking balls, landing them for strikes, and daring batters to put them in play. As you can see in the vid above, when he gets ahead he is able to pitch off said breakers by elevating the mid to upper 90s fastball, and they’ve got no chance there. The second time through the lineup, he swapped to getting ahead with the fastball and finishing guys with breakers, and frankly, they were all tied up.
This is what the system does, ideally. Take the very best clay out there, whether that’s out of the college ranks with Bobby Miller or Emmet Sheehan, or the high school ranks with Bruns, the rare teenage lefty who boasted three 60+ offerings, and help them to clean things up and find that elusive, ascendant polish. There will be hiccups, but the transition from thrower to pitcher is happening right in front of us, and it’s a joy to watch.
Eddys Leonard has been featured in this space mostly for his red-hot bat, but he has been flashing the leather of late as well:
Make no mistake, the degree of difficulty here is very high. Leonard nabbed that hop over his head, he makes a quick transfer while keeping the ball high, which is important here because it enables him to get the ball in his throwing hand and separated from his glove by the time his right (plant) foot reaches the ground. The plant foot halts his momentum, he is able to set enough to get off an accurate throw with enough oomph behind it to reach the first baseman on the fly, beating the runner by at least six feet. It’s an improvised ballet move, basically, and it is an excellent baseball play.
When you hear about a guy “flashing plus” at a position, this is it, right here.
That’s all for Sunday’s action. Enjoy your Monday, folks.