Ryan Pepiot's Changeup Earns Rave Reviews
Righthander Ryan Pepiot's changeup might be the most talked-about pitch in the Dodgers' organization.
"Yeah. I heard about him," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this spring. "Saw him a little bit in summer camp (last year) and I was pretty impressed."
"I think his changeup is one of the best pitches in our org," Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes said.
A third-round pick from Butler in 2019, Pepiot's velocity has increased since his college career and now pushes into the mid 90s. But it's the 23-year-old's changeup that stands out and has been compared with the one thrown by 2020 National League Rookie of the Year Devin Williams.
"It is extremely high-spinning at kind of a 3 o'clock axis. It's been kind of close to what a fastball would spin," Rhymes said. "He just takes all the (spin) efficiency off it, so it just dies. Also, it pairs well with his delivery. He kind of jumps at the hitter, and it's kind of quick tempo.
"And he's been throwing up to 98 (mph), so you get a ton of arm speed. The arm circle is short, and the sell on it is really good in addition to the (pitch) characteristics."
Pepiot pitched just 23.1 innings at Low-A and the Rookie-level Arizona League after signing in 2019. He started this season with Double-A Tulsa, allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out 22 in his first 15.1 innings.
Thanks to the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Pepiot's slowest pitch, he could rise quickly in the system.
"He still hasn't pitched a full season. And you learn a lot in that first full season," Rhymes said. "You're going to have a good month and a bad month. Even great pitchers have bad years. So he'll be challenged by an assignment.
"I think we'll just focus on him going out and getting better and controlling what he can control and not worry about moving fast."
— Righthander Brock Stewart had Tommy John surgery in May. Stewart, 29, had returned to the Dodgers organization on a minor league contract this winter after making 10 appearances for the Blue Jays in 2019 and getting released by the Cubs in May 2020. Stewart was unable to pitch during spring training this year because of elbow pain. He will miss the 2021 season.
— Top pitching prospect Josiah Gray was shut down after he experienced shoulder discomfort while trying to warm up for his second start of the season for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Gray struck out 10 in just five innings in his Triple-A debut in the season opener on May 6. He was warming up for a start six days later but was scratched from it. The initial diagnosis was a shoulder impingement. Gray was set to be re-evaluated after seven to 10 days of treatment.