Dodgers: Meet LA’s new elite pitching prospect Walker Buehler

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Jun 24, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores pitcher Walker Buehler (13) throws during the first inning against the Virginia Cavaliers in game three of the College World Series Finals at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores pitcher Walker Buehler (13) throws during the first inning against the Virginia Cavaliers in game three of the College World Series Finals at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports /
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With so much talent in the minors for the Dodgers’ organization, Walker Buehler seems to slip under-the-radar of most casual Dodger fans. But, he can be just as good as any other top prospect in this organization.

Walker Anthony Buehler was selected with the 24th pick in the 2015 MLB draft by the Dodgers. He was one of the highest rated college pitchers while attending powerhouse Vanderbilt and all Buehler has done since high school is win. His team won three straight district championships, and while at Vandy captured a College World Series.

With his body type, Buehler has drawn some comparisons to former Dodger, Zack Greinke. Much like Greinke, he has a simple wind-up and doesn’t have much extra-curricular movement going on. The difference is Buehler is exceptionally quick to the plate with his delivery. This is one of the things that makes him effective.

Buehler takes no days off (pun intended), and it is shown through his pitching. His work ethic on and off the field is what will make Walker a successful MLB pitcher. As his former coach Tim Corbin said: “He came to us with an advanced skill set for pitching, and he has continually improved upon that.”  The young right-hander is still improving on his game.

Despite being just 22-years old, he is very mature and composed on the mound. While many compare him to Greinke, I believe another former Dodger is a better comp. While on the mound you can see a fire in his eyes, much like that of Orel Hershiser. Buehler looks like he has that “bulldog” mindset while he is on the mound. This mindset can be one that makes him into a fan-favorite here in Los Angeles.

With the comparisons to Greinke and Hershiser, you can see why the organization is excited about his future. But to be fair to him, those two are some of the greatest pitchers to don a Dodger uniform, so expecting nothing short of what they were would just be unreasonable for this young stud. Does he have the skill-set to eventually become like them? Yes, yes he does. But that doesn’t guarantee anything in baseball.

Thus far, Buehler has been stellar. In Advance A ball he posted a 1.10 ERA in five starts. This hot start granted him a recent promotion to Double A. With this call-up he did not disappoint in the slightest. In just 3 2/3 innings on Wednesday he struck out nine batters. When he is on, he can be that dominant every time he toes the rubber.

The problem is keeping him sharp. He is currently on a pitch count watch since he is returning from Tommy-John surgery. His major problem since college has been his inability to find the strike zone at times. His command can be spotty, which is why he has been slowly brought up through the minor-league system.

This slow-play that the Dodgers are doing is for the benefit of his health and to get him as polished as possible before getting into the Majors. The Dodgers also have the depth necessary to wait for Buehler to be 100 percent ready for his debut with the big club. With a plethora of pitching available in the organization, they have the luxury of not having to rush players into the big leagues.

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Buehler is one of those players who will greatly benefit from this tactic. He has the stuff to be an MLB pitcher right now, but he is not a finished product. He will have the ability to work out all of his kinks rather than being thrown into the fire without being completely ready for it. If Buehler can polish his command of all his pitches, he will be in the big leagues very soon. But until he does that, he will be working his way up the minors.

If Buehler can become a polished pitcher, he has the makings of a great MLB starter. He has the mindset of an ace.

Along with that, he has the pitches to back-up that mindset. He currently has a fastball that sits 93-94 MPH but can get it up to 96-97. He also has a very good changeup and curveball to compliment that fastball. But, although he has the stuff, he can be erratic at times because of that very quick wind-up.

Next: Ideal Starting Rotation

Walker Buehler is one of the most intriguing prospects in this organization. He may not be as popular as Urias and Alvarez, but he may be just as good. Having lofty expectations like that of Greinke and Hershiser would not be fair to this 22-year-old right-hander, but with the right time fixing his kinks in the minors, he can become an excellent pitcher for this team in the future.

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