May 3: The Dodgers have formally selected Stone’s contract, per a team announcement. He brings their 40-man roster up to a count of 39 players. Lefty Alex Vesia was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in order to open a spot on the active roster.
Vesia has been hit hard in 13 appearances this season, yielding a 7.84 ERA in 10 1/3 innings with a 25.4% strikeout rate that’s better than league-average but vastly worse than the 34% he posted in 2021-22. Vesia’s average fastball velocity has held steady at 94.2 mph, but he’s giving up more hard contact than he ever has with the Dodgers; after yielding an 87.2 mph average exit velocity and 34.6% hard-hit rate in 2021-22, he’s at 91 mph and 44.7% so far in the young 2023 season.
April 30: According to MLB.com’s Juan Toribio, the Dodgers are planning on selecting the contract of right-hander Gavin Stone to start Wednesday’s game against the Phillies. Stone is not currently on the 40-man roster, and so a corresponding move will be required to clear space for the youngster.
Stone, 24, is ranked 49th on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospect list, 60th over at Fangraphs, and 51st at Baseball America. A fifth round pick from the 2020 draft by the Dodgers, Stone broke out in a big way last season with a 1.48 ERA in 121 2/3 innings of work that saw him strike out 33.8% of batters faced alongside a solid 8.9% walk rate.
That performance saw Stone get promoted twice, with just 25 innings at High-A before moving to the upper minors. After a 23 1/3 inning stint at Triple-A to close out the 2022 season, Stone impressed in spring training with 14 strikeouts in just 6 2/3 innings, but struggled to open the 2023 season when he returned to Triple-A, allowing six runs while recording just eight outs in his season debut. He’s posted a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings since that blowup outing, however, showing more than enough talent to justify a start in the big leagues.
It’s not currently clear if Stone’s call to the majors will last beyond Wednesday’s start. The Dodgers currently sport a five man rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and Noah Syndergaard. With no one in that group currently known to be injured, it’s possible that, should Stone stick in the rotation, LA opts to use a six-man rotation for awhile.
That being said, Syndergaard has struggled mightily to a 6.58 ERA over five starts to this point in the season. That ugly top-level run prevention number is supported by a 5.06 FIP, a well-below average 18.3% strikeout rate, and a groundball rate of just 37.2%. Given his struggles, it’s possible that Stone could replace Syndergaard in the rotation if the youngster excels and the 30-year-old right-hander continues to struggle.
In heading to the majors on Wednesday, Stone joins a youth movement in LA that has seen both infielder Miguel Vargas and outfielder James Outman in the lineup on a regular basis and Michael Grove take four starts to open the season before heading to the injured list with a groin strain. 24-year-old right-hander Ryan Pepiot was meant to break camp with the club as well, but suffered an oblique strain at the end of the spring that has sidelined him to this point in the season.
Even with Stone now poised to reach the big leagues, the Dodgers still have multiple top prospects who could make their major league debuts sometime this year, including right-hander Bobby Miller, outfielder Andy Pages, and catcher Diego Cartaya.