Dodgers' Gavin Stone is proving the hype right so far in Spring Training
The Los Angeles Dodgers have become a pitching factory under their current regime. Starting with Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have enjoyed a dominant stretch of starting pitching that has been a key part of the team making the postseason 10 years in a row.
The trend is continuing, too. There's a lot of young talent on the Dodgers' pitching staff heading into 2023. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin were rookies in 2020 while perennial ace Julio Urías is still only 26. Walker Buehler, who may not even pitch in 2023, is 28.
Then there's the next wave of pitching prospects that are ready to make their impact at the big-league level. The three most prominent pitching prospects are Ryan Pepiot, Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller, all of whom rank in MLB Pipeline's Top 100.
Stone is arguably the least known of the bunch. He's been in the Dodgers' farm system the shortest (drafted in 2020) and was not a top prospect when he was brought in. But that hasn't stopped Stone from meteorically rising through the Dodgers' system, mowing down batters at every level along the way.
This has created some hype around the lesser-known Stone that the right-hander is starting to prove right in Spring Training. The former Central Arkansas Bear threw an easy 1-2-3 inning on Monday against the Padres, showcasing his nasty changeup in the process.
Gavin Stone could make a big impact on the Dodgers in 2023
The 2023 season is going to represent a lot of youth in Los Angeles and the 24-year-old right-hander could be a prominent part of that. If Stone continues to pitch like this in Spring Training against big-league competition, then it's going to be really hard for the Dodgers to keep him at Triple-A to start the year.
Regardless of what happens, there's room for Stone to pitch at the big-league level. The Dodgers could throw him in the bullpen to start the season and have him be the long relief/sixth starter that the team always seems to have. Previous examples of this role include Tyler Anderson and Ross Stripling.
Or, there's the very real chance that there are injuries in the starting rotation, which would give Stone a chance to get an extended run with that group. Clayton Kershaw is almost guaranteed to miss 8-12 starts per season at this point in his career and who knows what could happen with Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin or Noah Syndergaard (all of whom have recently dealt with serious or concerning injuries).
Stone may not be a top-five starter for the Dodgers right now, but there's a real possibility that he will be come October. He has proven every step of the way that he is ready for the MLB spotlight. Now it's up to the Dodger to give him a chance as long as he continues to prove himself.