Dodgers' mid-tier pitching prospects will rule 2023 MLB trade deadline

Feb 22, 2023; Glendale, AZ, US; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Nick Nastrini poses for a portrait
Feb 22, 2023; Glendale, AZ, US; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Nick Nastrini poses for a portrait / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There's a reason that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been so adamant about planting names like Nick Nastrini and River Ryan at every turn. They'd very much like you to know they're on the rise -- and they'd very much like fellow MLB teams to be aware of that come Aug. 1, too.

The Dodgers are in need of an impact arm at this year's trade deadline, even if Bobby Miller maintains his dominant start and keeps his spot in the rotation (and he should). Julio Urías should be back soon, but Dustin May won't be. Regardless of his desires, Walker Buehler won't be, either. Noah Syndergaard's leash is shorter than a cigar nub, at this point, and probably would've been severed already if the Dodgers weren't as desperate as they are for depth.

Now, as summer approaches, it's time for the Dodgers to once again take stock of their top-tier farm system and decide which intriguing talents they can afford to send elsewhere. Outfielder Andy Pages felt like a candidate to lead a trade package before his season-ending surgery. Now, who goes? Will the Dodgers be willing to part with the eternally blocked Michael Busch? It seems likely they'll instead try to build trades around the pitchers they've largely managed to hide so far in 2023.

Michael Grove? He's been slightly exposed. Same with Gavin Stone (though he's still surely coveted). Ryan Pepiot's offseason injury, on the other hand, might've come at a perfect time to keep him in the mystery box.

No matter who headlines, the Dodgers' ability to talk up mid-tier prospects like Nastrini and Ryan will be crucial. Actions also typically speak louder than words, once teams have been introduced to the possibility. Luckily for the Dodgers, both pitchers' actions have also been excellent.

Dodgers Rumors: River Ryan, Nick Nastrini will be hot trade deadline commodities

Nastrini and Ryan are currently LA's eighth- and 12th-ranked prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Nastrini, the 23-year-old UCLA right-hander and higher-ranked commodity, began 2023 by building himself up at extended spring training, but has managed to conquer Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers thus far, maintaining a 1.10 WHIP and 3.48 ERA through eight starts. Ryan, 24 years old and swiped from the Padres, has thrived in the same Tulsa rotation, holding a 1.67 ERA and similar 1.09 WHIP through 10 outings (eight starts). His most recent contribution consisted of five no-hit frames against Wichita -- featuring three hit batsman which, again, he might be lucky that nobody saw.

Throughout the past six months, the Dodgers have made it very clear that they believe in Nastrini and Ryan -- or, at least, they believe that you, the Guardians or the White Sox or the Cardinals, really should believe in Nastrini and Ryan.

With the deck somewhat stacked against them this summer and the rest of the league's sellers looking to gouge the desperate Dodgers, the deadline will be dictated by how much the rest of the league believes in LA's middle tier, and how much metaphorical selling Andrew Friedman himself can do in the meantime.