The Los Angeles Dodgers farm system has been among the best in baseball in recent years, with current prospect Walker Buehler looking to follow in the footsteps of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger as top prospects turned into Major League All-Stars in the last three seasons.
Buehler made his Major League debut as a September call-up in 2017, although he still retains his prospect status going into 2018. As has been the case on many top prospect lists leading into the 2018 season, MLB Pipeline is high on Buehler.
The publication ranked him the fifth-best right-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball for this season.
Buehler was a first-round pick by the Dodgers in 2015 out of Vanderbilt. He underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted, so the 2017 season was his first full season as a pro.
In 28 Minor League games (19 starts) across three levels last season, Buehler pitched to a 3.35 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while striking out 125 and walking 31 in 88.2 innings.
He did not have as much success in the big leagues, where he allowed 11 hits and eight runs in 9.1 innings (7.71 ERA) while striking out 12 and walking eight. That was as a reliever, though, which Buehler has not been accustomed to in his career.
Buehler’s 98 innings between the three Minor League levels and the Majors were by far a career high. He may exceed that this season, although he will likely be on an innings restriction which could cause Buehler to begin the year with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
While the 23-year-old saw some time as a reliever in 2017, he will be returning to his traditional starting role this season and will provide the Dodgers valuable starting pitching depth throughout the course of the year.