Following the five-round 2020 MLB First-Year Player Draft, MiLB.com takes an organization-by-organization look at each pick with help from team scouting executives.
The Dodgers have found themselves in a pretty unique predicament. Not only do they consistently perform as one of the best Major League teams each season, their farm system continues to rank near the top as well.
A shortened Draft may have threatened that situation, but the Dodgers ended up having no problems in bolstering their third-ranked Minor League system. They paid homage to the mantra of "you can never have too much pitching," selecting four hurlers among their six picks, including right-handers with their first three selections.
For assistant director of amateur scouting Zach Fitzpatrick, that was due to the depth of the Draft, which was whittled from 40 rounds to five. The Dodgers didn't draft for need necessarily, opting instead for the best talent and what they gleaned from previous scouting observations. The end result was four college-caliber arms that the team projects as starters.
"From our summer, fall and early spring looks, we were really impressed with the pitching performance, the stuff, the depth and the quality overall," Fitzpatrick said. "We were really pleased to add some pitching to our system. All of them are unique in that they have starter potential. We thought it was a really good value, with both probability and upside with all the pitchers we took."
Overall, the Dodgers focused on college talent and proven, durable arms. They got both of those traits with their first three picks, starting with Louisville product Bobby Miller.
First Round: RHP Bobby Miller (No. 29 overall)
The Dodgers took Miller with the final pick in the first round (the Astros were forced to forfeit their first-rounder) and landed one of the hardest-throwing arms in the Draft class.
A former All-American at Louisville, the 21-year-old righty brings a five-pitch arsenal -- a two-seam cutter, four-seam fastball that's topped out at 97 mph, slider, curveball and changeup. Although questions arose early regarding his long-term projection as a starter, Fitzpatrick was quick to point out the improvements Miller made before his junior season was cut short.
"Marty Lamb, our area scout, did a tremendous job identifying [Miller]," Fitzpatrick said. "We believed in the adjustments he made from a delivery standpoint, from a command standpoint and how he improved his breaking ball and changeup. We felt great about the direction and steps he took early on in the season."
Those changes paid off early as Miller was compiling the best numbers of his career before COVID-19 concerns canceled the remainder of the NCAA season. Through four starts for Louisville, Miller he had a 2.31 ERA with 34 strikeouts against nine walks over 23 1/3 innings. His college experience and overall durability encourages the Dodgers that the 6-foot-5 hurler may move through the Minors quicker than expected.
"The college pitching demographic overall, you generally look at those guys as being a bit more polished," Fitzpatrick said. "I think the stuff that Bobby has in particular definitely has a chance to be impactful rather quickly."
Round 2: Landon Knack (No. 60 overall)
The Dodgers' second consecutive collegiate righty, Knack set an East Tennessee State record by notching 16 strikeouts batters in March. Despite never being drafted before and being ranked 112th among Draft prospects by MLB Pipeline, the 22-year-old was highly regarded as the best available fifth-year senior.
His defining quality is his, well, knack for throwing strikes. The Tennessee native led the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio in his abbreviated final season, piling up 51 punchouts while issuing a lone walk in 25 innings. He also posted a 4-0 record and a 1.08 ERA. And like Miller, he showcased an increase in velocity in his limited appearances.
"Given the shortened season and the smaller school, I think that's why he was ranked where he was," Fitzpatrick explained. "But we love the total package. He's an elite strike-thrower and has an elite strike-throwing record. We felt like there was a real jump in stuff. There's a rare combination there of stuff and strikes to be considered a quality Major League starter."
Competitive Balance B: Clayton Beeter (No. 66 overall)
Six picks after taking Knack, Los Angeles went with -- you guessed it -- another right-handed thrower out of college. In Beeter, the Dodgers gained another high-upside projectable starter, although he wasn't always considered one.
The Texas Tech product spent last season in the bullpen after recovering from Tommy John surgery, then showed vast improvement in both size and strength in four starts this season. The 21-year-old went 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA, striking out 33 and walking four over 21 frames. Notably, Dodgers scouts were in attendance for all four showings.
"Our scouts kept coming back being impressed with Clayton's size, by his strength and by his improved strike-throwing ability," Fitzpatrick said.
Beeter's velocity ticked up, sitting between 94-96 mph, and Fitzpatrick described his breaking ball as "the best in the Draft."
"We definitely view him as a potential starter," he said. "But he also has the kind of go-to breaking ball that you look at and could easily see fitting in a bullpen role as well down the road."
Round 3: Jake Vogel (No. 100 overall)
The Dodgers stayed local for their lone high school pick, selecting the 18-year-old outfielder out of Huntington Beach as their first position player in the Draft. Renowned for his speed, Vogel possesses a 70-grade run tool, according to MLB Pipeline. But while his speed may be his calling card, the Dodgers like him for other reasons.
"The more we got to know Jake, the person that he is, the passion he plays with and the intensity and maturity he plays with, we believe is rare for a high school player," Fitzpatrick said. "He has a dynamic run tool. He has the ability to stay in center. He has at least a plus arm as well."
Los Angeles knows it rolled the dice on Vogel, who's committed to UCLA, but is betting on his makeup to grow as he matures.
"We think he can be a dynamic center field defender. The hand speed, bat speed and power, we believe, is going to continue to progress. We think he's going to a really well-rounded package," Fitzpatrick said.
Round 4: Carson Taylor (No. 130 overall)
A switch-hitting catcher out of Virginia Tech who also played some first base, Taylor enticed the Dodgers with his versatility.
"As you've seen with the Dodgers, the ability to play multiple positions and the versatility is a key component," Fitzpatrick said. "We really feel that Carson made significant strides behind the plate from his freshman to sophomore year. We like the makeup and the passion he brings to the position."
Taylor left quite a mark in Blacksburg, where his .998 fielding career percentage is the highest in school history. In 16 games this spring, the 21-year-old mashed at a .431 clip and posted a .541 on base percentage. His 1.231 OPS topped the Hokies.
"He's a strong switch-hitter," Fitzpatrick noted. "We feel like the left side of the swing has a chance to be very good. He's a very well-rounded package at a premium position, with some pretty special makeup traits that we value."
Round 5: Gavin Stone (No. 159 overall)
With the penultimate pick of the Draft, the Dodgers finished the way they started. Stone is a right-hander out of Central Arkansas who produced another impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Through 27 1/3 innings, he fanned 31 while issuing only six free passes. He saved his best performance of the abbreviated season for last, firing a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts against Southeastern Louisiana on March 6. His fastball touches the upper 90s and his breaking ball stands out among his secondary offerings.
"The arm speed and the uptrend that he's on was another exciting package to get, especially in the fifth round," Fitzpatrick said.
In three seasons at Central Arkansas, Stone recorded a 2.42 ERA with 109 strikeouts over 101 1/3 innings.
Overall Outlook: The Dodgers look poised to continue their success at both the Major and Minor League levels after a brief but still successful Draft. Moreover, they consider themselves lucky to land the picks they did.
"We really do believe that all six players that we took, if they had a chance to play a full season, would've had a really good chance to perform and boost their Draft stock," Fitzpatrick said. "To get the players that we did and the timing of the rounds that we got them, we were just really pleased with our staff to stay committed.
"This Draft class is a great outcome for us. To add four potential starting pitchers, with both stuff and athleticism, and to get to add two premium position players as well that we think can be offensive contributors, the probability and upside of our entire group is strong. They're going to flourish."
While there are questions surrounding baseball's near-term viability, one thing remains clear: the Dodgers' future is bright.