Rob Hill Talks Top Dodgers Top Pitching Prospects & Player Development

Los Angeles Dodgers director of Minor League pitching Rob Hill joined “DodgerHeads” host Jeff Spiegel to discuss the state of the organization’s player development system and shared some updates on top pitching prospects Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller, Maddux Bruns and Landon Knack.

The Dodgers player development system has become the best in sports, and Hill said that is because of their obsession with being great and “truly caring about each individual player as an individual.”

Hill added what makes them truly stand out is their hiring of people who all buy into that system and work for the greater good of the organization.

“Number one, it comes down to the people,” Hill said. “The people that you hire, the people that you bring in the people that are helping to drive the message that we want is always the number one thing.

“And what that has done is allowed us to create a collaborative culture where we truly value the opinions of other people, whether that be a first-year coach or someone who’s been in the organization for 30 years. And we kind of mix all those things into a pot and come out with the best possible result for the player.”

One of the biggest debates within the pitching community is whether teams should prioritize looking for elite stuff or elite command. Hill sees the need for a good mix of both but does believe it’s easier to develop their pitches rather than command.

“I would say I don’t really fall on either end of the spectrum,” Hill said. “It kind of goes back to that individual approach.

“It’s like so and so has a really good fastball and a really good slider and a really good changeup, metrically, on the stuff perspective, but they don’t throw nearly enough strikes, or they only throw strikes with one of those pitches, how can we improve that? So I think that my personal opinion is that it’s easier to develop stuff.”

While most people do feel command isn’t a skill that can be developed, Hill argues it’s just something that has yet to be figured out.

“I think that basically there are very few skills on the planet that you can’t improve at, except like height,” Hills said. “…but I think that the ability to execute a task more repeatedly is very much something that you can improve upon.”

But most importantly, the Dodgers target players with high work ethics who are willing to buy into the system because the organization is confident they can help those players improve.

“I think that it’s one of the most important things for sure,” Hill said. “Because we feel that we have the tools to make virtually any pitcher on the planet better.”

“And if those pitchers are just as invested as we are in their development, which almost all of them are, then why not? Yeah, I think that it’s one of the most important attributes that a guy can have for sure.”

Ryan Pepiot has ‘infinte’ upside

Pepiot has already made his MLB debut and shown some of what he is capable of, but the right-hander has also struggled with his command so far. Hill feels the sky is the limit for the 24-year-old.

“Infinite. That’s all I got,” Hill said about Pepiot’s upside. “I mean, Pep is everything that you want in a starting pitcher. He’s got the durability, he’s got the mind for it, he’s got the skillset.

“He can do anything that you want, fierce competitor. Yeah, I mean, I think Pep can be a huge impact player for us for a long time.”

Bobby Miller is doing everything right

Hill acknowledged Miller needs to work on his consistency, but said the 2020 first-round draft pick is on the right track and the Dodgers are bullish on his future.

“Bob can do anything,” Hill said. “That’s like the best way that I can describe it.

“He has reshaped his delivery, he has changed his arsenal and he has made adjustments day in and day out. Consistently, the hardest working guy, sets a great example for the other guys. He’s everything that you could ever want in a first round pick.

“Because everyone looks to him and wants to know what Bobby’s doing and wants to almost be like him. They look up to him, and they’re a year younger than him. So he’s obviously a great pitcher, he’s also a great leader on and off the field.”

Maddux Bruns is loaded with potential

Bruns was the Dodgers first-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and came with high upside in a raw package. The Athletic’s Keith Law wrote that despite being 19, Bruns has the stuff to be one of the top pitching prospects in the Minor Leagues, and Hill agrees with that statement.

“First and foremost, he’s brilliant. I think that he is really, really smart, sometimes potentially to his detriment,” Hill said. “We can have incredibly deep conversations about the intricacies of deliveries and things like that. He has truly mastered his art form, I would say to a certain extent.”

“Maybe not like, in terms of the knowledge base of it, not necessarily the execution always. But yeah, I think Keith’s assessment there was kind of what we were all thinking but couldn’t quite put into words, but it’s true.

“You watch them Maddux throw and sometimes it’s just like, if you just transplanted this dude into a Major League field right now and saw him do the exact same thing he was doing, that would be incredible.”

Landon Knack is a pure pitcher

Knack finally returned to the mound in early May after dealing with an injury and he has been busy building back up. The right-hander has drawn a lot of praise within the organization, and Hill continued to add to that.

“Landon is like the purest form of a pitcher that I think you could ever like describe,” Hill said. “It’s elite ability to execute five, six, 100 different pitches while also having elite stuff.

“It’s elite velocity, great movement on his pitches, all those sorts of things. And just like an F-you attitude on the mound, and a guy who’s going to go out there and shove it down your throat.”

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