Dodgers’ Jackson Ferris Refines A Third Pitch At High-A


Even as Michael Busch mashed a rookie-high six home runs in April, including five in five games at one point, the Dodgers were happy with the prospect return from their January trade with the Cubs.

Outfielder Zhyir Hope came out swinging at Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, while lefthander Jackson Ferris was missing bats at High-A Great Lakes.

The Dodgers had their eyes on the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Ferris during the 2022 draft when the Cubs beat them to him, taking him out of IMG Academy in Florida in the second round.

“We loved him out of the draft and were really excited to acquire him,” Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes said. “Everything since he’s been a Dodger has been really positive.”

Ferris’ April results were mixed—two excellent starts mixed with two rougher outings—but Rhymes points out that the 20-year-old Ferris is among the youngest pitchers in the Midwest League.

“He’s working on some new pitches,” Rhymes said. “At some points, it’s not the way we would handle things in the major leagues, where you throw your best pitch the most times. You keep working on things that he needs to work on for long-term success.”

This season, that means relying less on his excellent fastball and working to refine his slider.

“He’s got a really nice fastball, that’s his primary pitch,” Rhymes said. “Then there’s a curveball that he has a lot of confidence in and is really effective.

“Then we just wanted something that is in the middle, so he’s been working on a slider, trying to get it up into a little higher velo range with good shape.”

In a system stocked with pitching prospects, Rhymes said Ferris fits right in. Through 19 innings, he struck out 23 and walked 14.

“We really feel he has some feel to pitch and execute that is ultimately going to separate him as he continues to evolve,” Rhymes said.

“He has a really legitimate starting arsenal and execution. It’s just exciting to have a young starter with this much upside.”


— Outfielder Miguel Vargas left Triple-A Oklahoma City for a few days in April, missing two games. But it was for a good reason. The native Cuban took—and passed—the test to become a United States citizen. Vargas was hitting .310 with a 1.060 OPS and six home runs in his first 25 games.

— Righthander River Ryan was shut down for most of spring training with a sore shoulder, but he had started his throwing program and progressed to throwing bullpen sessions in late April. Rhymes said he expects Ryan to be ready for games “by the end of May.” “We see this next month or so as his spring training,” Rhymes said. “I think this will be a really great year for him. At the end of the day, it’ll cost him a couple months, but he’ll still get four-plus months in and have a pretty full season.”

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