The MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers are boosting their bullpen for the last few weeks of the regular season. Per a report from Andy McCullough of The Los Angeles Times, right-handed pitcher and top prospect Walker Buehler is being promoted to the big league club.
Buehler is 23 years old and was ranked the No. 12 prospect by MLB.com at the start of the season. He has absolutely dazzled in 2017 to the point where, if he does well as an extra arm out of the 'pen this month, he could find himself in competition for a starting job next season.
Buehler the man
Buehler is from Lexington, Kentucky and is the son of Karen Walker, a well-known lawyer in the area. He was originally drafted out of Henry Clay High School by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 14th round of the 2012 MLB Draft but opted to attend Vanderbilt University instead.
That turned out to be one of the best decisions of Buehler's life. The young righty helped the Commodores to the 2014 College World Series title and was drafted 24th overall by the Dodgers the following year while his teammate, infielder Dansby Swanson, was selected first overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Buehler finished his collegiate career with a record of 21-7 and 2.87 ERA in 51 games (41 starts) and 260 strikeouts in 254 innings.
Buehler is now in a position to become one of the many fine baseball players that have come out of Vanderbilt like New York Yankees righty Sonny Gray and Boston Red Sox southpaw David Price. On a team as talented as the Los Angeles Dodgers, he should have every opportunity to succeed.
Buehler the pitcher
Walker Buehler was called up to the Dodgers' main roster for a reason. He was just that good in the minors this season.
Buehler tossed just 88.2 innings in the minor leagues this year, but he posted an impressive 3.35 ERA and 1.10 WHIP across High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. He also struck out 125 hitters and allowed just six home runs. At Triple-A Oklahoma City, his groundball rate was an excellent 61.1%.
Now, to be clear, Triple-A is where Buehler did the worst this season. He posted a 4.63 ERA in 12 games and made just three starts. And it's 100 percent fine that he struggled in Triple-A because it was his first time facing batters at that level.
In terms of his pitches, he has a fastball that can touch 98 miles per hour and also has an above average curveball and slider. He has to work on his fastball's command so that batters don't continually make contact with it, but he's still young and has time to work out that kink in his game.
Simply put, being called up as an extra relief arm for the stretch run is one of the best things that could have happened to him. If he can do well over these final weeks, expect to see a lot more of him in 2018.