Five games into the season, the Atlanta Braves are off to a fast start. This is a nice change of pace, given how they have started in recent years.
In game 5, we may have witnessed the next success story of the Braves player development department. Dylan Dodd debuted against the St Louis Cardinals and pitched five innings of 1 run ball. It is a small sample size of one start, but could he be in line for a big rookie year in Atlanta?
Following the breakout rookie campaigns of Michael Harris, Spencer Strider, and Vaughn Grissom, it would be another feather in the cap for the Braves' front office to develop another quality rookie. The Braves player development department has made a name for itself recently. Maybe they can turn a relatively unknown player outside Braves country into a quality major league player.
Dodd was considered the Braves 10th ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline coming into the year. Most publications rank the Braves farm system last, and it is not surprising that the 10th-ranked prospect in the worst system is unknown by the national media. He did start gaining attention with a fabulous spring that saw Fangraphs bump him into their top 100 to 89.
However, Spring Training stats do not mean much without backing them up during the regular season. Dodd got his opportunity tonight and pitched well. Was it perfect? No. It was great for a guy making his major league debut.
Remember Spencer Strider's first start? 4.1 innings, 4 hits, 5 runs (3 earned), 2 walks, & 7 strikeouts. It was nothing special, but once he got those initial nerves out of the way and realized he belonged on a major-league bump, he turned into a stud on the diamond. Dodd is an entirely different pitching style than Strider, but I am excited to see what he can do once he gets past the initial nerves of being a major leaguer.
Sure Dodd gave up a few hard-hit balls and only struck out 3, but he found a way to get through a lineup that included Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Willson Contreras, only allowing 1 run. He could have let the nerves get to him after a Tommy Edman leadoff single to start the game. Dodd found a way to get Goldschmidt to ground into a double play. He then struck out Nolan Arenado for his first career strikeout to start the 2nd. After those moments, he looked like a guy that belonged at this level.
Maybe most impressively, he was in control of the zone. He consistently pounded the zone and made the Cardinals have to beat him as he did not allow a single walk. Often, a young pitcher may have some nasty stuff or an electric fastball, but they have no clue where it is going. Dodd was in command of all his offerings tonight, including an impressive 12 swings and misses.
It is a small sample size of 1 start that spans 5 innings. However, Dodd has been turning heads since the Braves drafted him as an under-slot senior in 2021. Tonight was just another example of him rewarding the Braves' trust.
Who knows how Dylan Dodd's 2023 season or even his career turns out? What we do know is that he did everything he needed to do in his debut. Hopefully, when we reach June, July, August, or whenever, we can look at Dodd as the guy who refused to give up his spot in the Braves rotation.
It is still far too early to tell, but Dodd was impressive. Providing us reason to question if the Atlanta Braves have done it again.