Dodgers' Gavin Stone Came To Grips With His Changeup—And Has Excelled
Righthander Gavin Stone knows how important his plus-plus changeup is.
“Oh yeah. Big time,” Stone said. “If I don’t have that, then I’m probably in the bullpen by now.”
The modified split-changeup that Stone used to record a minor league-leading 1.48 ERA last year—while striking out 12.4 per nine innings—at three different levels wasn’t created until his first spring training in the Dodgers’ organization.
“When I got drafted, we had that whole break where we didn’t come in,” said Stone, the Dodgers’ fifth-round pick in 2020. “Then the next spring training I had developed a little changeup.”
Stone said the grip is not a traditional splitter grip with the ball jammed back between the first two fingers. Instead, he “rotated the ball a little bit and put my fingers on the seams—the seams produced that split.”
“That whole year (2021) it was very inconsistent in the zone,” Stone said. “It was kind of hard to throw it for a strike and throw it for a ball and get the same action out of it."
Stone said that when he reached High-A Great Lakes late in 2021 that pitching coach Ryan Dennick, who is now at Double-A Tulsa, helped him develop a better feel for his changeup.
Two years later, it wasn’t just his changeup that impressed Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in Stone’s first big league camp.
“You see the mound presence, the ability to command the baseball, to pitch from behind when he needs to, to throw a strike when he needs to . . . it’s just fun to watch,” Roberts said.
“He’s only going to get better, which is exciting for us.”
Spending this spring in big league was a big step towards preparing Stone for his likely MLB debut this season.
“I feel like having confidence on the mound is key to being a good pitcher," Stone said of his main takeaway from this spring. "If you don't exude confidence, then hitters are going to have better at-bats. So that's just my main focus to stay as confident as possible on the mound."
— Outfielder Jose Ramos played for Team Panama in the World Baseball Classic and went 5-for-16 (.313) with a home run in Panama’s four games. The 22-year-old went unselected in the Rule 5 draft last December despite hitting 25 home runs and driving in 97 runs last season, which he spent mostly with High-A Great Lakes.
— A nonroster invitee to big league camp, righthander Jordan Yamamoto announced his retirement on social media after being reassigned to the minor league camp. The 26-year-old had an 8-12 record with a 6.05 ERA in 36 big league games for the Marlins and Mets.