R.J. Dabovich, RHP
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2020, 4th Round
LAST LEVEL: Triple-A
GiantFutures 2023 Ranks: #20 Overall, #3 Relief Pitcher
2022 Performance: It was a tale of two seasons for R.J. Dabovich in 2022, after he’d had a breakout season in 2021.
Dabovich started the season in Double-A Richmond, and after giving up three runs in his first game, Dabovich was pretty dominant there. Dabovich finished April without walking anyone in seven innings and eight strikeouts, Dabovich would appear in 22 games at Richmond, ending up with a 2.70 ERA with 38 strikeouts to six walks in 26.2 innings.
At the end of June, Dabovich moved up to Triple-A Sacramento, but things were very different for him (possibly because that’s where roboumps were being used). Dabovich ended his stint in Sacramento with a 4.38 ERA, and 31 strikeouts but 20 walks in 24.2 innings. Dabovich struggled in his two months, walking 17 batters with 12 strikeouts in his first 12 games at the level before he missed a little more than two weeks as he went through some adjustments and rested a nagging hamstring injury, but he walked just three batters in 13.1 innings after that.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Dabovich is a classic high-low pitcher, working with a mid-90’s fastball that he ideally uses at the top of the zone, and then throws his plus curveball in the mid-80’s to get batters to swing on top of. He used that combination effectively in 2021, when he struck out 17.3 strikeouts every nine innings, but only.had a 12.1 strikeout rate in 2022.
Like many relievers, Dabovich’s control is his biggest weakness. However, Dabovich was great with his control early, but struggled in the middle of the season when he was dealing with a hamstring injury, though it’s not clear when that started. Dabovich’s control might improve naturally just by coming into 2023 healthy.
2023 Outlook: Dabovich will be in Sacramento to start the season, proving his performance there last year was more of a hiccup than foreboding for his future. Dabovich is not on the 40-man roster, but he might show up in the big leagues this season.
Future Profile: Dabovich doesn’t have the stereotypical fastball-slider combo that most late-inning relievers have, but his curveball mixes in well and has the strikeouts you’d love to see in the late innings. He’d probably be a fringy closer, but still looks like a traditional late-inning reliever, even if it is in a setup role.