2. Walker Buehler
Buehler was the Dodgers’ first-round pick back in 2015, and after taking time to have and recover from Tommy John surgery, he’s picked up where he left off in college. In 43 minor innings between Class A Rancho Cucamonga and his promotion to Double-A Tulsa this year, he has accumulated a 2.30 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 56 strikeouts.
The Dodgers are taking it slow with the 22-year-old and understandably. He is the team’s fourth-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, and arguably their best pitching prospect. Heading into his last year at Vanderbilt, Buehler was considered, by many, the best player on the eventual college champions. This team included 2015’s number one and number eight overall picks. However, due to an elbow injury before the start of that season, his stock fell, enough so that a definite top-5 talent dropped into the Dodgers’ laps at 24.
He has an impressive four-pitch mix, headlined by an electric mid-90’s fastball (that has touched 99 mph). His curveball (considered to be the best in the organization) and slider make for two impressive secondary offerings. Throw in a changeup that has shown flashes of being above-average, and you have the makings of a legitimate frontline starter.
Buehler has drawn comparisons to former Dodger Zack Greinke because of his makeup, simple delivery, and his impressive four-pitch arsenal. Our very own Hector Ponce believes that another Dodger great might be a better comparison. If he can get close to either of them, the Dodgers will have found the perfect complement to Julio Urias.
Speaking of Greinke, the last time the Dodgers had a dynamic duo fronting the rotation, it was Kershaw, a lefty, and Greinke, a righty, leading the charge. Urias, a lefty, and Buehler, a righty, have the tools to remind us of that.