Pepiot accepted a baseball scholarship to Butler University out of Westfield High School in Indiana.
Ryan played in the Cape Cod League the summer of 2018. He would often go to the beach, deep sea fishing and hang out with teammates and host family. The combination of fun and sheer dominance of some of the best players in the world led to an unforgettable summer.
“Going out there was like a vacation every day but getting to play baseball every night,” Pepiot said.
Hyannis local Dan Johnson, the vice president of the Harbor Hawks, and his two daughters hosted Ryan for the summer.
“Ryan is an even better human being then he is baseball player and he’s a damn good ball player,” Johnson said.
Pepiot sees a lifelong friendship with the Johnson family.
“They were amazing, I would talk with them and hangout with them every day,” Pepiot said. “I still talk to them every day. I’m definitely going to have a future relationship with them.” (Graeme Wright - Butler Collegian)
June 2019: The Dodgers chose Pepiot in the third round, out of Butler Univ. in Indiana. He signed for $547,500, via scout Stephen Head.
In 2020, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Ryan as the 28th-best prospect in the Dodgers system. But a year later, early in 2021, Pepiot moved all the way to 8th-best Dodger prospect. And he was at #5 in the spring of 2022, which he is where he stayed early in 2023.
- March 3, 2022: When the Dodgers entered the offseason, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman felt confident in the organization's starting pitching depth.
The Dodgers had the best team ERA in the Majors in 2021, and they'll have most of that production returning when the 2022 season gets underway. But a big reason for Los Angeles’ confidence is the development of top pitching prospects such as Ryan Pepiot, Landon Knack and Bobby Miller.
Pepiot, 24, is the top pitching prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline. Since the Dodgers selected him in the third round of the 2019 Draft, Pepiot has opened eyes every step of the way. He had a strong debut season, posting a 1.93 ERA in 13 appearances. In 2020, he was part of Los Angeles’ Summer Camp roster and was one of the most impressive arms at the alternate training site.
In ‘21, Pepiot showed his dominance, but he also encountered some expected adversity for a pitcher going through the Minors. He dominated at Double-A Tulsa, posting a 2.87 ERA in 15 appearances and striking out 81 over 59 2/3 innings. But when Pepiot was called up to Triple-A Oklahoma City, he struggled, finishing with a 7.13 ERA in 11 appearances.
“A lot of that was mechanical stuff. Obviously, I was trying to figure some things out, but I got in my own head with some things, and I was just out there, kind of like a robot,” Pepiot said. “I had a bunch of different thought processes out there, so I was already behind the eight ball.”
Pepiot said he visited with psychologists this offseason in order to get back to his normal self. On the mound, he feels like he’s more prepared, and he has more weapons, too. Pepiot came into this spring with an added focus on his mechanics, but he has also learned a “sweeper” breaking ball, which is essentially a mix of a slider and a curveball. The right-hander, much like he did with his signature changeup, tried different grips on the pitch until he finally found one he liked.
“I was throwing a harder slider, and it just didn’t have the right variation between my changeup velocity and fastball,” Pepiot said. “So we tried to figure out a grip that works. It’s actually what Blake Treinen throws, and we have about 10 other guys that have tried to throw it. I picked it up this offseason, and it has come a long way.”
In a scrimmage against Asian Breeze, an Arizona-based independent team, Pepiot utilized the pitch to finish off a pair of strikeouts. With a 96 mph fastball, the changeup and the sweeper, Pepiot struck out five of the six batters he faced. “I was happy with the work I put out there. I put in a lot of work this offseason,” Pepiot said. “Just being able to be out there against somebody else other than someone wearing a Dodgers jersey, it’s always nice to be able to do that.”
At some point this year, Pepiot hopes to face opposing jerseys at the big league level. He can feel how close he is to achieving his lifelong goal of reaching the Majors, and the Dodgers could use his talented arm. But with the lockout still in place, Pepiot is staying focused on what he can control.
“It’s exciting to be as close as I guess I am,” Pepiot said. “But I also don’t want to look ahead because I have to stay where my feet are at. I just have to come in here every single day, do my work.” (J Toribio - MLB.com - March 3, 2022)
MLB debut (May 11, 2022): The Dodgers got their first look at the future. With family and friends in attendance, Ryan Pepiot got to make his big league debut against the Pirates. And while the efficiency wasn’t quite there, Pepiot had a pretty solid debut in which he did not allow a run.
Across 3 innings of work, Pepiot tossed 77 pitches and walked 5 batters. He added 3 strikeouts and worked around a whole lot of traffic with those free passes. But it was a good chance for Dodges fans to see what the future could look like. (Brook Smith)
March 24, 2023: - The Dodgers’ starting rotation to start 2023 is set.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed that right-hander Ryan Pepiot edged out Michael Grove and will enter the season as the fifth starter. Pepiot joins Julio Urías -- who will make his first Opening Day start on March 30 -- Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May and Noah Syndergaard in the team’s rotation.
After his big-league debut last May, Pepiot, the Dodgers rookie, tried to catch his breath inside the dugout. He had lasted only three innings and issued five walks. After a little while, Kershaw approached. They talked about the outing. Kershaw asked what pitch Pepiot used to reset himself when behind the count. The changeup, Pepiot replied.
“Well,” Kershaw said, “that wasn’t working today.”
“I know,” Pepiot said.
“Let’s find something else.”
Then Kershaw stood up and walked away. Later in the game, he returned and studied video with the rookie. “Just trying to see how my brain worked, and see what I thought,” Pepiot said. “I’m just like, ‘Wow. This is my major-league debut, and I’m sitting on the bench with Clayton Kershaw right now.'” (McCullough - Jul 10, 2023 - The Athletic)
- SEpt 15, 2023: Pepiot has been a top pitching prospect for a few years now and he’s starting to show why in 2023. The 25-year-old right-hander missed the first four months of the season after suffering an oblique injury the last weekend of Spring Training. But since returning, Pepiot has taken full advantage of his opportunity. With a more conscious effort to limit walks, which hurt him last season, Pepiot has posted a 2.00 ERA over five appearances this season, giving him a legitimate chance to make the postseason roster. -- Juan Toribio
|Birth City:||Indianapolis, IN|
|Draft:||Dodgers #3 - 2019 - Out of Butler Univ. (IN)|
Pepiot is a big righthander with a 93-98 mph FASTBALL, with riding life, that grades 70. He has a 50 grade on his 86-88 mph SLIDER with reliable tilt down and away with a 50 grade. And his truly exceptional, 83-85 mph devastating CHANGEUP—his best offering and a 65 grade. It has hard movement down and in to righthanded batters, getting swings-and-misses at an inordinate rate! It works vs. lefty hitters extremely well, too and he will throw it in any count against any hitter.
Ryan is physical, 6-foot-3 righthander with premium stuff. His high-spin fastball sits 94 mph and touches 98 with hard armside run out of his strong, powerful delivery. His slider has been a point of emphasis in his development and now sits 84-87 mph with added sweep to make it an average pitch he can locate down in the zone. Pepiot's formerly elite changeup has regressed with his focus on his slider, but it's still a plus offering in the upper 80s with late dive that gets empty swings and weak contact from experienced hitters. Pepiot's below-average control has long been a work in progress and remains so. He struggles to command his fastball and his changeup is more of a chase pitch, which hitters laid off of in the majors. Pepiot doesn't miss the zone by much and generally throws enough strikes to get through four or five innings, but he struggles to go much further. (Kyle Glaser - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2023)
Pepiot owns the best changeup in the Minors, earning 70 grades from some evaluators for a low-80s weapon that fades before dropping at the plate. He has improved his fastball significantly since turning pro, gaining about 3 mph to sit at mid-90s and touch 98 while boosting its induced vertical break and carry up in the zone. He has added sweep and power to his slider, which now parks in the upper 80s and moves in the opposite direction from his changeup, and he also can turn it into more of a cutter.
While Pepiot has tremendous feel for his changeup, he struggles to locate his fastball with precision and to throw his slider for strikes. Los Angeles has worked with him to create more balance in his delivery, and he made strides with his control and command in 2020 before regressing in the second half of 2021. He could pitch in the front half of a big league rotation if he can add some polish. And his fastball/changeup combination is so good that he should be at least a valuable multi-inning reliever. (Spring 2022)
Ryan's stuff is as good as anyone’s in the Dodgers system. But he has long battled below-average control. He is prone to rushing through his delivery and drifting out of his balance point, leading to poor fastball command and short outings when he gets either too much of the plate or not enough of it.
Pepiot has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter if he can corral his delivery. If not, his fastball and changeup will play in late relief. (Kyle Glaser - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2022)
- 2022 Season Pitch usage/Avg, Velo: Fastball 56.4% - 94.3 mph; Change 25% - 87 mph; Cutter 18.6% - 87 mph.
Ryan recalls pitching in the New England Collegiate League following his freshman season at Butler.
"I kind of got shelled because I didn't have a changeup," Pepiot said. "I was basically throwing fastballs all the time, and if you throw fastballs all the time to good college hitters, you're going to get hit around.
"So I started messing around with grips in catch play and long toss, just trying to figure out what I liked, what I could control and what came out similar to my fastball that would play a lot better.
"I kind of found the grip I have now that I liked. I worked on that all offseason into the fall and just continuously refined it as time has gone on."
That grip is "a circle-change off of basically the same grip as my fastball so it comes out with the same spin out of my hand as my fastball," he said.
"Definitely working on my off-speed pitches, landing those for strikes. That's been a big emphasis this offseason," he said, mentioning a hard slider and a slower, sweeping slider to mix in with his fastball, curveball and changeup.
"I'm starting to feel good about my whole arsenal all around," Pepiot said. "Having five tools in the toolbox now and being able to throw those where I want to and when I want to is definitely going to help me solidify things as a starter and hopefully get a chance to go up to Dodger Stadium at some point." (Bill Plunkett - Baseball America - March 2022)
- 2019 Season: Pepiot had a memorable season, as the prospect transitioned from college to pro ball.
Pepiot’s big year began at Butler University where the righty stuck out 126 batters in 78 innings of work.
His great collegiate season caught the eyes of Dodgers scouts who made Pepiot a priority during the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, as the organization selected him in the third round, 102nd overall. His ability to strikeout batters transitioned nicely to the pro game, as Pepiot racked up 31 strikeouts in 23.1 pro innings split between the AZL Dodgers and the low-A Great Lakes Loons. Pepiot records strikeouts regularly thanks to the feel that he has of his four-pitch mix.
“I throw four pitches. I throw a fastball, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup,” explained Pepiot. “When I’m on the mound, I try to get ahead of hitters early with my fastball. When I’m able to do that, I can mix in my off-speed pitches to keep hitters off-balance.”
While any of his pitches can be effective at any time, Pepiot takes pride in his changeup, which pro scouts have rated a 60-grade pitch.
“My changeup has improved over the years,” said Pepiot. “It’s a pitch that I’m comfortable throwing in any count.” With the minor-league season in the books, Pepiot is focused on next season. One way he’ll prepare for 2020 is by taking part in the Dodgers Instructional League.
“I’ll be taking part in the strength and conditioning program at instructs this fall,” stated Pepiot.
And the strength program should have Pepiot prepared for the challenges his first full season of pro ball present. With a limited workload in 2019 due to the number of innings he already pitched in college, it’ll be great to see what the prospect can do with an increased pitch count, so be on the lookout for Ryan Pepiot in 2020. (Brian Crawford - Sep 18, 2019)
Pepiot's changeup is a legitimate weapon that he sells with fastball arm speed, only to have it arrive at the plate with a ton of fade. After working with high spin rates on his fastball in 2019, he showed increased vertical movement in shorter stints last year. His slider got sharper and he also used his curveball to get early-count strikes.
His crossfire delivery enables Pepiot's pitches to get on hitters more quickly than expected, though it also contributes to control and command lapses at times. Los Angeles has helped him stay more balanced over the rubber, which led to better location of his pitches last summer. He could wind up as a No. 3 starter if he can maintain the improvements he flashed in 2020, and he could become a Devin Williams-style reliever if he winds up in the bullpen. (Spring 2021)
Pepiot's changeup might be the most talked-about pitch in the Dodgers' organization.
"Yeah. I heard about him," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this spring. "Saw him a little bit in summer camp (last year) and I was pretty impressed."
"I think his changeup is one of the best pitches in our org," Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes said.
The velo on his fastball now pushes into the high 90s. But it's the 23-year-old's changeup that stands out and has been compared with the one thrown by 2020 NL Rookie of the Year Devin Williams.
"It is extremely high-spinning at kind of a 3 o'clock axis. It's been kind of close to what a fastball would spin," Rhymes said. "He just takes all the (spin) efficiency off it, so it just dies. Also, it pairs well with his delivery. He kind of jumps at the hitter, and it's kind of quick tempo.
"And he's been throwing up to 98 (mph), so you get a ton of arm speed. The arm circle is short, and the sell on it is really good in addition to the (pitch) characteristics." (Bill Plunkett - Baseball America - July, 2021)
Ryan cleaned up his arm action and began locating his fastball to his glove side, giving him average control for the first time. He occasionally sprays his fastball up and in but generally self-corrects.
Pepiot has to show he can maintain his control gains over a full season. If he can, he has a chance to be a righthanded power starter. (Kyle Glaser - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
Los Angeles rated Pepiot's changeup as the best in the 2019 Draft, a true weapon with fade that he sells by maintaining his fastball arm speed. His heater has high spin rates that give it riding action up in the strike zone. He threw two different breaking balls in college, but the Dodgers had him scrap his curveball in favor of his slider, which shows flashes of becoming a solid pitch but lacks consistency.
Pepiot's strong 6-foot-3 frame gives him the durability to remain a starter. His crossfire delivery allows his offerings to get on hitters quickly but also can make it difficult to command them. He's working on maintaining his balance over the rubber to help him do a better job of locating his pitches.
Ryan is a big-bodied righthander with dominant stuff on his best days. His heater has plus life. And his changeup was among the best in his draft class with late action and movement in the strike zone and grading out at plus to plus-plus.
Ryan's problem is inconsistent fastball command and execution. (Spring 2020)
Ryan's control and command vary from outing to outing. There is a minor head whack in his delivery. He struggles with timing issues with his delivery, and when he does, he walks a lot. But most outings he is in total command, attacking hitters.
- 2021 Q&A with Baseball America's David Laurila about his best pitch—his changeup:
David Laurila: How would you describe your changeup?
Ryan Pepiot: “I’m trying to make it as close to a screwball as possible. A lot of guys cut the spin when they throw their changeups, but the way mine works, I actually spin the ball more than I do my fastball. It’s kind of like how Devin Williams does it, where he spins it close to 3,000 rpm. I’m not that high — I’m in the 2,500-2,600 range — but I get arm-side fade and depth. I throw a four-seam circle change, and that allows the spin to look closer to a fastball from a hitter’s perspective. That helps get swings-and-misses, and also takes on pitches that sometimes I wouldn’t get takes on if it was a two-seam changeup and you could see the spin.”
Laurila: It sounds like you don’t back away from the Devin Williams comps you’ve gotten at times.
Pepiot: “No. I see his and I’m like, ‘That’s just gross.’ Like, how do you make something move like that? When I’m out there, I’m trying to do something similar.”
Laurila: What is the story behind your changeup? You don’t just walk onto the mound and start throwing a pitch like that.
Pepiot: “The story behind it is that I didn’t really have much of a changeup in high school or the beginning of college. It was hit-or-miss, so I’d throw it once or twice a game, not really having an idea of where it was going to go. I went out to the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) after my freshman year and kind of got exposed a little bit, because I didn’t have a changeup.
“Knowing that I needed one, I started messing around with different grips. The spin on a two-seam, circle change didn’t really make any sense to me, so I started playing catch with the four-seam grip that I have now. I started throwing long-toss with it and just kind of honed that back in to the 60-feet distance. The movement just kind of followed with it. So it’s kind of a self-taught thing where I just messed around with grips — a little trial-and-error — until I found something I liked. I kind of went from there.”
Laurila: That was when you were in the NECBL …
Pepiot: “Correct. That was in the summer of 2017, and that fall I went back to school and started throwing it more and more. Then, in the spring season of 2018 with Butler, I started using it in my arsenal.”
Laurila: Grayson Rodriguez throws a screwball-like changeup with a two-seam grip. You said yours is a four?
Pepiot: “It is. It’s like a standard four-seam grip, but my hand kind of hooks around a little bit. Playing football growing up, and basketball, I got some jammed fingers, so my fingers… like, it works to where I can just kind of hook them around the horseshoe. And a lot of guys get their pinky fingers off the ball when they throw their changeup, but I actually try to hook my pinky around the horseshoe, on the seam, and try to keep it on there as long as possible. That’s kind of a cue for me. When you slow down the video, my pinky finger ends up coming off at the end, but trying to keep it on as long as possible helps make sure I’m releasing it out in front. That helps me get the fade and depth to it.”
Laurila: I assume you’re pronating quite a bit on the pitch.
Pepiot: “Yes, I am. I’m trying to get the ball to come off my hand like … to roll down the side of the ball as I’m releasing the ball.”
Laurila: Outside of being screwball-ish, what is the actual movement profile?
Pepiot: “I can never get the positive or negative horizontal break straight, but vertical it’s around zero to four inches. I’ll get it negative-one or negative-two every once in a while, but usually it’s around the zero-to-four range. Horizontal-wise, it’s 14 to 18. The spin axis is around 2:30 to 3:00 o’clock. And again, the spin is around 2,500 to 2,600.”
Laurila: Is it always the same pitch, or do you vary it at all?
Pepiot: “I don’t try to vary it, but based on the release point it sometimes has a little more arm-side. More of my misses tend to be arm-side, so I try to eliminate those. When it’s at its best, it’s more straight down and just kind of dies as it gets to the plate. It fades away from a left-handed hitter.”
Laurila: Where is the velocity when it’s at its best?
Pepiot: “In the 84-86 range.”
Laurila: What percentage of the pitches you’re throwing are changeups?
Pepiot: “This year has been a little different since we’ve been on shorter pitch counts. I’ve been heavily fastball this year. But on a normal day, I’d say probably in the 25-30% range for changeups. It doesn’t matter if it would be a right-handed hitter or a left-handed hitter, either.”
Laurila: I assume you’re more than willing to throw back-to-back changeups?
Pepiot: “Yes. I like to double up. I’ll triple up, and a couple times I’ve gone up to five or six in a row. I’ve joked about trying to do the Lance McCullers Jr. thing where he threw 20-something curveballs in a row, but I haven’t gotten to that yet.”
Laurila: The Dodgers are obviously big on data and technology when it comes to pitching development. How much has that impacted how well you understand your changeup?
Pepiot: “The only reason I know the movement profile numbers, and a lot of what I’ve said so far, is because of the Dodgers. I had some Rapsodo in college, but that was all we used, and I couldn’t have told you what any of it meant when I was looking at the sheets after bullpens, or after games. Now I understand what everything means.”
Laurila: We should at least touch on your other pitches. What can you tell me about your fastball?
Pepiot: “My velo has definitely ticked up since being drafted. It was in the 91-94 range and would get up to six every once in a while, and now I’m sitting in the four-to-six range and getting up to 97-98 every once a while. Heat helps, definitely.
“With that, and the tech data that we have … being able to understand what release point, and how my hand is angled, has helped my spin rates go up. And then the vertical movement has ticked up as well; it’s in the 18 to 20 range. I get pretty good arm-side action as well. It’s in the 10-to-15 range on any given day.”
Laurila: You get horizontal along with the ride . . .
Pepiot: “Yes. I think it’s due to … mechanically, I kind of step across with some crossfire action. Since college, I’ve been able to move a little better hips-wise, so I can open up a little bit without sacrificing any leg strength.”
Laurila: What about your breaking ball?
Pepiot: “I’ve cut out the curveball for now, so it’s a three-pitch mix with the fastball, changeup, and a slider. My slider is like a cutter/slider hybrid. I’m trying to throw it hard, and as straight as possible with late break at the end. I try to keep it on the same plane as the fastball to tunnel well with that, and then have it break late to miss a barrel. I can use it as somewhat of a swing-and miss pitch, and for weak contact as well. It’s in the 88 to 92 range, and the vertical break is anywhere from two-to-six. The horizontal is six-to-eight.”
Laurila: Basically, it’s a pitch that moves glove-side to complement your changeup going arm-side.
Pepiot: “Correct. When you look at the report, I want the triangle of my three pitches to have a good distance break, and to have everything look like it’s coming out as a fastball. One goes to my glove side, one goes down-and-away arm side, and then the fastball plays up in the zone, and down in the zone as well.”
2021 Season: RHP Ryan Pepiot—MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 2 Dodgers' prospect
You can easily make the argument that the 24-year-old Pepiot was ready to contribute last season in 2020, but the Dodgers didn’t want to rush his development. Barring injury, the Dodgers are fully expecting Pepiot to have a sizable role next season in 2022. Pepiot impressed the Dodgers at the alternate site in ‘20. He followed that up by dominating with Double-A Tulsa, posting a 2.87 ERA in 15 appearances.
He struggled during his short stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City, posting a 7.13 ERA in 11 appearances. The Dodgers, however, aren’t worried by those early numbers. Los Angeles loves Pepiot’s ability to spin the baseball at an elite level. His changeup, which is often regarded as the best single pitch in the Dodgers’ system, will also be a big weapon. (J Toribio - MLB.com - Dec 7, 2021)
- 2022 Season: Pepiot bounced around between Triple-A and the Majors, but was still able to go 3-0 with a 3.47 ERA in nine appearances in the big leagues. But despite the overall success, Pepiot struggled with his command, finishing the year averaging 6.7 walks per nine innings.
March 30-Aug 2, 2023: Ryan was on the IL with left oblique strain. Pepiot sustained the injury at some point during his final Spring Training start, against the Angels on March 28. It’s unclear how much time Pepiot will be forced to miss, but an oblique injury usually takes quite some time.
April 10, 2023: Manager Roberts stated that Pepiot (left oblique strain) has yet to pick up a baseball and is still feeling discomfort two weeks after sustaining his oblique injury.