Scouts floored by Dodgers' minor-league rotation with 'best fastballs' in baseball

The Springfield Cardinals fell to the Tulsa Drillers 11-0 at Hammons Field on Tuesday, April 16,
The Springfield Cardinals fell to the Tulsa Drillers 11-0 at Hammons Field on Tuesday, April 16, / Andrew Jansen/News-Leader

Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the offensive talent strewn through the league. But whatever the cause, nobody dominates the Double-A Texas League on the mound -- except the Dodgers' collection of relatively unheralded arms with the Tulsa Drillers.

Los Angeles' mid-tier of pitching prospects, led by Nick Nastrini and River Ryan, have become known quantities this season -- and that's just the way the Dodgers like it. After all, the more hidden pitchers they can turn into desirables, the more midseason trade heists they'll be able to pull off without shaving off the top of their farm system.

Relative unknown pitching prospects have been a renewable resource for the Dodgers for years, but this season might be the pitching factory's peak. 2023's Tulsa Drillers have the best rotation ERA in the league by a full point and a half (2.78 to the Padres affiliate's 4.29).

That sextet, made up of all right-handers (Nastrini, Ryan, Emmet Sheehan, Nick Frasso, Landon Knack and Kyle Hurt), has also earned the title of the hardest-throwing team in professional baseball.

Not the minors. The pros. Tulsa's six-headed, right-handed drilling machine boasts an average fastball velocity of 94.9 mph, tied with the Miami Marlins for first in all of baseball, a tick ahead of the New York Yankees in third.

Dodgers Double-A rotation throws hardest fastball in minor-league baseball

And to think, if not for a well-timed heist, Ryan could've been doing all this for the second-place San Antonio Missions. Pretty good Matt Beaty trade, all things considered!

A big fastball doesn't always portend success, as jaded fans know, but it's certainly a helpful tool to have in the toolbox. Luckily for the Dodgers, this six-man rotation is also producing results. Frasso, an equally sneaky addition, came over in the Mitch White trade with Toronto last deadline, and has produced a 1.69 ERA and 45 Ks in 32 innings. Sheehan, a 23-year-old 2021 sixth-rounder, should be rocketing up prospect radars soon, thanks to his 1.86 mark and ridiculous 88 Ks in 53.1 innings pitched. Knack? 0.94 WHIP in 57.1 innings. It just never ends. This club could lose Sheehan and Knack, who've recently been promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, without missing a beat.

The Dodgers have already reaped the benefits of promoting Bobby Miller and his burner, despite middling results at the minor-league level. Perhaps the answer to the Noah Syndergaard problem and rotation depth issue lies below the surface in Tulsa, rather than in some other big-league rotation? At the very least, we know you won't find a harder fastball anywhere else.