Future Dodger Starting Pitchers

Yesterday, Bluto called our attention to Q & A session with Jim Callis of Baseball America.  Callis has always been high on Yadier Alvarez but now he says he has a “Cy Young ceiling“.  He’s still high risk, but he’s really high reward.  He also mentioned Caleb Ferguson and AJ Alexy who are in the pipeline  as prospects who make make big jumps this year.  Neither are in the Top 30 Prospects.

As I mentioned yesterday, I tend to trust Baseball America the most on their prospect rankings, but I find others useful and I also like to read and compare John Sickels (Minorleagueball), Keith Law (ESPN), Dustin Nosler (Dodger Digest) and David Hood (TrueBlueLA).

Baseball America had Chase De Jong rated at #25, behind the following pitchers:

  • #22 Yasiel Sierra
  • #19 Mitchell White
  • #17 Grant Dayton
  • #14 Trevor Oaks
  • #13 Dustin May
  • #12 Jordon Sheffield
  • #11 Walker Buehler
  • #8 Brock Stewart
  • #2 Yadier Alvarez

All except Dayton and Sierra are starters. Sborz might be converted to a reliever. Let’s compare the rankings on just one – Mitchell White and see how they all stack up.

Minor League Ball – John Sickels

15) Mitchell White, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, second round pick in 2016 from Santa Clara; posted 0.00 ETA in 22 innings between rookie ball, Low-A, and High-A, with 30/6 K/BB and a mere seven hits allowed; mixes low-90s fastball with plus cutter and solid-average curveball; throws strikes; could use a better straight change-up but maybe he can use the curve in off-speed situations; has Tommy John on resume but with that past him he could end up being quite durable; possible mid-rotation starter if all goes well. ETA 2019.

Dodgers Digest – Dustin Nosler

14. RHP Mitchell White (6’4, 207 pounds, 22 years old)
A somewhat surprising 2nd-rounder in 2016 out of Santa Clara University, White signed for almost a million bucks and made quite the impression on the organization. He only threw 22 innings (across three levels), but he gave up just seven hits, one run (unearned), walked six and struck out 30 hitters.

White has a low-90s fastball that touches 94 MPH. It features some movement and is a bit heavy. If he can maintain that kind of velocity as a starter, it’ll be an above-average (or better) pitch. He also has a couple secondaries that are encouraging. His curveball has flashed above-average potential. It features 12-6 break and sits in the high-70s. His cutter is what has a lot of folks excited. It’s a high-80s pitch that features nasty movement in on lefties and away from righties. He’s going to break a lot of bats with the pitch, when he isn’t missing them with it. All three pitches could be weapons for him going forward.

He stands on the extreme first base side of the rubber to help him get better movement on his fastball. He holds his hands at chest level before beginning his delivery. He’s quick to turn on the rubber and bring his leg up. He gets the front foot down and his arm is in good position. He drives off the rubber and gets good plane on his pitches. The delivery isn’t high-effort, but it isn’t effortless, either. It’s repeatable and should bode well for his command. It remains to be seen if he can keep it up with a starter’s workload, but the early returns are promising.

White has middle-of-the-rotation upside, perhaps even a No. 2 starter if absolutely everything goes his way. His floor appears to be that of a hard-throwing reliever with at least one plus secondary pitch. He should go back to Rancho for some extended work as a starting pitcher. The Dodgers might limit his innings a bit because he did have Tommy John surgery in college and there’s no need to rush him. But if they wanted to fast track him, they could do so as a reliever. They shouldn’t need to, but if they did, he could debut sometime next season. If he develops as a starter, I’d add at least a year to that timeline. He should see some time in Tulsa as well this season.
2016 rank: NR
2017 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2019

David Hood – TrueBlueLA

A relative unknown as a sophomore-eligible from Santa Clara, second rounder Mitchell White could be the first Dodger pick from the 2016 draft to reach the major leagues. White was a late riser in the draft on the back of an impressive strikeout-heavy season, and he carried his success over to the professional level. Though White will likely develop as a starter, he could reach the big leagues this season as a reliever and his upside in that role could be elite.

Like Will Smith, White’s rise to a first-day selection came so quickly that I was not able to rank him in my pre-draft top 200. At the time of his drafting, no video of his pitching could even be found online, and only Baseball America of the major media outlets had a scouting report on him. Not only did White exceed my expectations in his debut (what expectations I could muster given the limited information on him), he showed more polish than I would expect from a pitcher with limited mound experience.

White may have some of the most electric stuff in the organization. His fastball reportedly touches the mid 90s, but what we can see on tape is a heavy pitch that comes in on a tough plane from his high three-quarters slot. He has excellent control of the pitch and will pound the zone with the offering.

I go back and forth on which secondary pitch I like best, choosing the curveball in my draft review, but both the curve and the cutter are plus offerings. The cutter could have the most utility as a foil to the fastball, as it comes on a similar plane before diving away from right handers. Like the fastball, White shows good control of the pitch and he could even pitch primarily off the pitch in shorter stretches.

White’s curveball could be his best swing-and-miss pitch. His break is sharp and the pitch has excellent depth, and given his arm slot, the ball does not pop up out of hand. As either a starter or a reliever, White can succeed with just this three-pitch mix, though he also has a change-up to mix in when starting.

When minor leaguers weren’t swinging and missing at his pitches (White had a 37.5% strikeout rate across three levels) they were pounding contact into the ground to the tune of a 70% ground ball rate. Both White’s fastball and cutter have ground ball inducing shape and though he’s been a heavy strikeout pitcher, his control and groundball rate should make him pitch efficient from the rotation.

Perhaps the biggest detraction on White thus far is the sample size. White missed time in college for Tommy John surgery and only spent one season in the rotation. Additionally, White only threw 22 innings in his pro debut, and as impressive as they may have been, they don’t offer much in predicting where his stuff might be across five or more innings every fifth day.

Should the Dodgers keep White in the rotation, he has the build to suggest durability. White is listed at 6’4 and 207 lbs. and has a mature/athletic build that won’t need to fill out much more. His arm action can get long, but White has shown little trouble in throwing strikes consistently. His delivery has a bit of energy and effort that might give more credence to a move to the pen, but White is athletic and easily repeats his delivery.

Given the short outings of his professional debut, it can be difficult to judge White’s ceiling as a starter. His control, ground ball rate, and strikeout potential should at least give him a third-starter ceiling with more possible if his stuff holds up over longer outings. As a reliever, though, White could be special, with two potential plus-strikeout pitches in his cutter and curve, and plenty of velocity if he can pitch more often at the top of his range.

As a reliever, White could be ready as early as 2017. He breezed through three levels in his debut, and though he’s expected to return to Rancho Cucamonga as a starter, his performance suggests he could reach Double-A Tulsa by mid-season. The Dodgers have plenty of starting pitching prospects ahead of him on the depth chart, but few can match his potential as a back-end reliever.

It’s still too early to pigeon hole him on one single path, but should a need arise, he could be accelerated up the ladder. With little urgent need, White’s development will likely stay in the rotation where he can continue to accrue innings. Reaching the California League in his debut season shows what the organization thinks of White, and given his polish and stuff, he could continue his quick pace through the system in 2017.

Baseball America

Few players in the 2016 draft had as much late Helium as White.  He didn’t pitch much in high school – he had Tommy John surgery his senior year – and pitched just 32 innings out of Santa Clara’s bullpen in 2015.  Moved to the rotation in 2015, White’s fastball velocity spiked and the Dodgers took notice, popping him in the second round and cutting an under-slot deal with him for $588,300.  While the Dodgers kept him on a tight leash of no more than two innings per outing after he signed, White excelled in his pro debut by allowing only one run (unearned) in 22 innings.  The Dodgers want to develop White as a starter, and he has a chance to stick in that role.  White’s fastball sat at 89-93 mph early in his final college season, but by the end he was cruising at 91-96 mph and tickling 97 with good fastball command.  His curveball and cutter-esque slider are both solid average offerings with the curveball flashing plus and the more effective pitch in his pro career.  He has a changeup, but it’s still in its nascent stages since he just started throwing it in March.  White is a late bloomer with a limited track record, but he has the stuff to be a solid starter or high-leverage reliever with a chance to move quickly.  

I find that fascinating.  Each person has a different take in some fashion.  Myself?  I have never seen Mitchell White (except video), but I plan to this summer.  I wish I had more time to devote to baseball and the Dodgers but as CEO of US Water Systems I only work half days (12 hours) and there is just not much extra time.  I love what I do, so it’s not work.  I’m 63, but feel much younger.  I’ll be doing this another 10-12 years until my son takes over for me… and I’ll still be dabbling in baseball as the hack that I am.

What the Rotation could look like in 2018:

  1. Kershaw
  2. Urias
  3. Hill
  4. Buhler
  5. Stewart

What the Rotation could look like in 2019:

  1. Kershaw
  2. Urias
  3. Buehler
  4. Stewart
  5. Alvarez

What the Rotation could look like in 2020:

  1. Kershaw
  2. Urias
  3. Buehler
  4. Alvarez
  5. May

There is still a glut of starters and lots of trades to be made.  This is going to  be fun.

Breakout potential exists outside Top 100

Baseball America named players outside the TOP 100 prospects they think might have breakout seasons. Insofar as the Dodgers go, here is what they say:

Catcher

AUSTIN BARNES, DODGERS: While he already is 27, Barnes’ skill set will translate into at least a backup role—with the potential for more. His simple swing and understanding of the strike zone have helped him produce a .384 on-base percentage at Triple-A, while his receiving skills are superb.

Good and Bad News

The good news is that the Dodgers scored 5 runs yesterday.  The bad news is that they allowed 22 runs in their combined split-squad games!

  • I was quite impressed with Brandon McCarthy yesterday (Goldy HR notwithstanding).  He had some control issues in the first, but adjusted as it went on.
  • The more I see Logan Forsythe, the more convinced I am he will be the catalyst of our offense.
  • Trevor Oaks pitched 2 shut-out innings – he’s the one who benefits by De Jong’s trade.
  • Austin Barnes will add a lot to this team in 2017!

Today’s Music

Posted by Mark Timmons

I started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. I took a year off in 2016 and now I am back. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. I don't do game recaps or in-depth sabermetric analysis. I value sabermetrics, but leave that to people smarter than me... which is only 98% of the population. This is where you start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome!

This article has 25 Comments

  1. FAZ did what I wanted them to do this off-season, get a closer, do something about second and third, except, I really wanted a “beefed up” bullpen. A deep pen that could really shut down teams from the sixth on. I see a few questions in the 2017 pen. Perhaps White is one of the answers.

    1. White could possibly come up later in the season, but right now they want him to get stretched out as a starter. Her are the pitchers I believe could be pieces in the pen:

        Dayton (he’s an 8th inning guy)
        Romo (8th inning)
        Liberatore (if healthy, he’s an 8th inning guy)
        Baez (as much as we rag on him, his ERA was almost below 3.00 and he just needs to hurry up)
        Avilan (solid middle relief)
        Stripling (swingman)
        Fields (middle guy)
        Hatcher (I refuse to comment)
        Ravin (?)
        Wood (could he be effective in the pen)
        Sierra (not on the roster, but a Wild Card)


      Then, think about this: If Mac, Kaz, Wood and Ryu are healthy, a couple could bring back a great reliever!

      1. Yeah, we have lots of options, and will probably be very good. I just still want a total stud eighth inning guy. We may already have him, but I want more, maybe one of those Baltimore guys.

    2. The 40 squeeze is so tough that I’d be truly shocked if they rushed White onto it.

      This front office seems way more deliberate than that, and the stakes are high.

  2. I live in the shadow of Santa Clara University, am an alumnus, go to an occasional SCU baseball game and follow them locally. White also pitched for a prominent local, private high school. In all those years, I never heard of him. Never. Not one headline. Not one mention. If these guys are right on White, it would be the biggest steal this group has done and probably ever will do. He probably would have been on the draft board in about the 5th round, so a high 2d round pick was a real stretch. Last year he got a lot of outs and strike outs playing 2 innings at a time. So we shall see. He is a real blank check. I don’t see how these forecasters can make the predictions they do on him with such an inconsequential amateur career and such a limited pro career. We shall see. I hope they slot him at High A so I can see him pitch and see for myself what all the fuss is about.

    1. Well, I guess part of the fuss about FAZ was that they would create an organization that could find the hidden nuggets and then develop them into their full potential.

      Has anybody seen this new TV show called Sun Records?
      Starting in February, a chapter of rock and roll history featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and more will play out on primetime television. The eight-part series follows Chad Michael Murray as Sun Records founder Sam Phillips and a group of future music legends who famously crossed paths in Memphis.

      There was a scene in the last show where Sam Phillips says if “he has talent, I will pull it our of his arse”. Hopefully that is what the Dodgers will do with White and others.

      1. Every now and again, you find a hidden gem.

        White would be that if he can live up to the hype. We all know how hard that is.

        But, it’s not like FAZ hasn’t done that already in Toles, Dayton (for Chris Reed), Calhoun and others like Ferguson.
        .
        Buehler could even be in that category because if healthy, he was TOP 5!

    2. The Quakes play in San Jose during May – it would be an opportunity to see some new faces like Mike Ahmed (Nick’s brother), Will Smith, and the hotly debated Mitchell White. I don’t recognize too many names on the current roster but I think it’s still in flux. There’s no 3rd baseman and hardly any infielders listed.

  3. Not that Spring Training means that much but my first impressions are:

    1. SVS looks good at the plate and is making good contact.
    2. Toles is making good contact but the ball doesn’t seem like it is popping off his bat.
    3. Ethier looks solid.
    4. Joc is working on something. Last year his swing and stance morphed into what he was trying to get by the end of spring training and it seems like he is going to do that again this spring. He lifts his back foot and sets it down before each pitch. I wonder if he will still be doing that at the end of spring.
    5. Seager looks a little rusty with the bat.
    6. Toles hasn’t looked all that smooth on defense. Its early though.
    7. SVS has looked great at first base.
    8. McCarthy is looking good.
    9. Relievers whose names are not all that familiar haven’t looked good.
    10. Forsythe really looks good to me. Thanks FAZ.

    I think the Dodgers are still a year away from getting away from platoons.
    .
    Ethier and Thompson will probably platoon in LF.
    .
    SVS and Gonzales will probably platoon at 1B.
    .
    If Thompson and SVS pound lefties the Dodgers can afford to let Joc hit against lefties and thus keep their best defensive CF in the game.
    .
    If the above turns out to be what happens, Toles will probably start the season in OK.
    .
    As of now, I think Taylor has beat out Kike’ for the utility spot on the 25.

      1. Welcome, Blue Duck! Any relation to Bluford Duck, that infamous outlaw?

        Hopefully, you will quack us up!
        .
        And… you are right about Yasmani. I can see him hitting #4 a lot this year.

        1. Forsythe 2B (R)
        2. Seager SS (L)
        3. Turner 3B (R)
        4. Grandal C (L/R)
        5. Gonzo 1B (L)
        6. Puig RF (R)
        7. Pederson CF (L)
        8. Platoon of L/R in LF (pick 2 or 3)

        If Grandal can keep his OB% above .360 he can hit #4 and probably put up 40 bombs!

      1. A base hit into left center caused Joc and Verdugo to converge. Either player could cut it off and both looked like they made a straight line to the ball. Whether Verdugo waited too long to move to backup or not, it looked like Joc was distracted enough that he bobbled the ball and runners took another base. It would have been better for Verdugo to make the play because coming from left field he would have benefited as a lefty while Joc coming from CF had to more fully turn his body to make the throw. But, it is also best if doubt is removed as to who will make that play by having the center fielder take charge.

        1. Bum

          Thanks.

          I thought at first, Stewart was pitching well, but no biggie.

          UCLA plays tonight, at 730 my time, on ESPN.

          They have been playing better lately.

  4. I was told I was again a topic of conversation at the old site. I have nothing to say, but thank you for telling me…

  5. The Dodgers lefties (Ethier, Utley and Pederson) got two straight hits against a lefty (Brett Anderson) to score two runs.
    .
    Kike has looked good.

    Anderson? Not so good!

    1. Pitched very good for 1.2, then lost his control & command. Ran out of steam??? The tell will be how he bounces back. Hopefully Honey will tell him to focus on the 1.2 and forget about not getting that 6th out.

      1. Stewart is a very smart kid and I thinks he tends to overthink stuff. Trust your stuff. Quit thinking so much and just PITCH!

  6. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GUYS AND GIRLS. LOVE ALL THE COMMENTS. NOTHING COMES CLOSE TO DODGERTALK. MARK IS THE BEST. SORRY, HEALTH IS NOT GOOD. YOU GUYS KEEP IT JP

  7. Spitzbarth! hmmm
    .
    Apparently assumed he would get drafted out of high school so didn’t bother to have a backup plan that would get him a scholarship in a Division I school. Did he flunk shop? A few short quotes from him seem to reflect a person that has a philosophy on life. I think I am going to like this guy.

Comments are closed.