Previously posted at Dodgers Nation.
The Dodgers selected Ryan Pepiot in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft after an excellent career at Butler University. Like most Dodgers draft picks he was held back a bit after a full college season. Many would say that the Dodgers were fortunate that Pepiot was still available in the draft. As of May 2020, Pepiot is the 28th top prospect in the Dodgers organization according to MLB Pipeline.
Tim Rogers: What sports did you play in high school? Expand on this as much as you want.
Ryan Pepiot: In High School, I played 4 years of football where I was the quarterback. I played two years of basketball but stopped playing after sophomore year because I was never 100% ready for the start of high school baseball season. I played 4 years of baseball where I was pitcher and shortstop.
TR: Coming out of high school were you intent on going to college or did you heavily consider going pro?
RP: My intent was to go to college. I always wanted to play professionally, but I also knew that an education was important to me. Although I had wanted to play professionally, in high school I had very little interest from pro teams.
TR: Why did you choose Butler?
RP: I chose Butler because of the proximity to home so that my family could come watch me play and I could go back home and watch my younger brother play in high school, the opportunity to compete for a starting spot in the rotation as a freshman, the Big East Conference where I would get to play in cities that I had not been to before, and a business degree that would land me a job out of college if professional baseball did not work out.
TR: What was your major? Do you have plans to continue your education at some point?
RP: I was a double major in finance and marketing. I do plan to finish school. I am about 18-21 credits away from finishing, so I would like to finish but I have not set when I will be completing school.
Becoming A Dodger
TR: Were you surprised to be drafted by the Dodgers? What kind of workouts did you have before the draft with teams?
RP: In a way I guess I was surprised by the whole draft because I did not know when or where I was going to end up. But prior to the draft, I had a good amount of communication through phone calls, texts, emails, and meetings with the Dodgers. So, going into the draft I knew that the Dodgers were a potential landing spot for me.
— MLB Draft Tracker (@MLBDraftTracker) June 4, 2019
TR: When you reported to Arizona did you know any of the other players or coaches?
RP: I knew Kody Hoese and Jacob Cantleberry from playing against him in summer ball growing up. I knew Connor Mitchell because we were teammates in college and have grown up going to the same baseball facility in Indiana since we were kids. Jeff Belge I knew from playing against him in college. Mike Mokma and I were teammates in Cape Cod one summer.
TR: Looking at the game log for your first game, did you do the perfect inning right off the bat?
RP: I was very close to a perfect inning, but I did throw 1 ball that messed up the perfect inning.
TR: You were promoted to Great Lakes pretty quickly. Was that pre-planned? It seems guys like John Rooney took the same path the year before.
RP: I do not know if it was pre-planned or not. I do know that I was going to start out in the AZL and get some innings under my belt. After a couple 1 inning outings, the outings turned into going out for another inning further ramping me back up to pitching a couple innings. I had hoped that I would get to go to Great Lakes, but I was never told for sure that I would until Will Rhymes gave me the call that I was flying out of Arizona to Michigan that night.
TR: It looks like you were on innings/pitch limits. Do you expect them to throw you quite a bit more when you play again?
RP: Yes I was on a pitch count due to throwing a lot of innings in college. I expect to throw a good amount of innings when I do get to play again.
TR: Your changeup is highly regarded. Who taught you your changeup? How do you grip it? Do you have any MLB pitchers, now or in the past, that you follow who throw the change?
RP: I self-taught myself my changeup. I had coaches in college and summer ball coaches saying to work on my changeup, so I did a lot of trial and error with grips and also throwing long toss with the grip to control the pitch. I do not specifically have any pitchers that I follow with the change, I just enjoy seeing different pitchers using different changeup grips to manipulate the movement of the baseball.
TR: What is the speed differential between your fastball and change?
RP: The difference between my fastball and change is 8-10 miles per hour, my fastball has ride and my change has fade and depth. I want my arm speed to be the same on both pitches, it looks like the same pitch is coming to deceive the hitter.
TR: I’ve read that your fastball can top out at 96 MPH. Is that correct?
RP: Yes that is correct
TR: I’d read that the Dodgers had you drop your curve and stick with the slider. Is that the plan moving forward (if true)?
RP: I have not dropped my curve. I did have to work a lot on it to not drop it, but the plan is to keep my four-pitch mix going and continuing to improve each pitch daily.
TR: What are some things you were happy with in your process and results you were happy with in 2019?
RP: I was happy to make my debut, to get promoted to Great Lakes, and get my first taste of pro ball. I was happy with my growth as a pitcher as well, gaining more info on how to scout players for upcoming games, using technology to improve on my pitches and mechanics, and developing a routine for the five-day rotation so I am at my best when it is my time to take the mound.
TR: What are the things you want to improve?
RP: I want to improve my walk rate, pitch more efficiently so I can go deeper into ball games, pitch more in the zone with all of my pitches, develop better skills for building scouting reports, and continue to develop into the best pitcher that I can become.
TR: Who were some teammates you became close to?
RP: Jack Little, Mitch Tyranski, Zach Willeman, Mike Mokma, Nick Robertson, Alec Gamboa, Tyler Ryan to name a few. I could list off a lot of names because I have tried to get to know as many guys that I can.
2020 And Beyond
TR: Before everything stopped, how was your spring training going? Did you get into any games?
RP: I was having a solid spring training, I had gotten into a few games and live BPs, and was building up adding an inning every couple outings to get ready for opening day.
TR: What were some highlights for you from your first Spring Training?
RP: Getting to put on the Dodger blue every day was a highlight. Seeing guys that I had not seen since first reporting to Arizona after the draft, or from the team in Great Lakes, or guys from instructs was like getting the boys back together. Seeing my hard work from the offseason translate into success during Spring Training was a highlight for sure. The biggest highlight was probably just getting back into playing the game with the excitement of my first professional season just a few weeks away before that got shut down.
TR: How are you dealing with the whole pause to the season?
RP: I am just taking it day by day trying not to get caught up in all the questions of when/if. I do not know when we will play this year, but when we do I am doing everything I can to stay ready for that time.
Again, I want to thank Ryan Pepiot for taking the time to basically write this article. You can follow Ryan on Twitter (@ryanpepiot2) and Instagram (@rpepiot10) to continue watching his progress. We can’t wait to see Ryan back on the mound – the sooner the better!