Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: Draft (Page 1 of 3)

In case you missed it: Old glove, new Kershaw

Roberts glove 061616js414

By Jon Weisman

In this video clip, Vin Scully talks about how new Dodger outfielder Will Venable is using an actual old glove of Dave Roberts from 2005, seen above.

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Here are some more notes and news from the past week …

  • Cali Ann’s getting a sibling. Clayton and Ellen Kershaw have a second baby on the way, due in November. Andy McCullough of the Times has the news in this Father’s Day-themed interview with Kershaw, which talks at length about the softening effect parenthood has had on the Dodger ace.
  • Monday’s nationally televised series-opener (ESPN) against the Washington Nationals figures to match Stephen Strasburg (2.90 ERA) against Clayton Kershaw (1.58 ERA). I’m not into win-loss records, but even a cynic like me about them finds it a little glamorous that the two pitchers are a combined 20-1.  Reminder: Strasburg is four months and one day younger than Kershaw.
  • The Dodgers officially announced the signing of the following draft picks: shortstop Errol Robinson (sixth round), right-hander Andre Scrubb (eighth round), right-hander Dean Kremer (14th round), outfielder Darien Tubbs (16th round), third basemen Brock Carpenter (20th round), right-hander Jeff Paschke  (22nd round), second baseman Brandon Montgomery (26th round) and catcher Steve Berman (31st round).
  • Ross Stripling gave a progress report to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com regarding his current hiatus from game action.
  • Chad Billingsley said he hasn’t given up, but the former Dodger right-hander, who hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch in 11 months, told Bruce Hefflinger of the Defiance Crescent-News (his hometown newspaper) that it was “most likely” that his career was over.
  • Scott Radinsky, the one-time Dodger reliever who is the Angels’ bullpen coach, is thankfully recovering from April open-heart surgery after a big scare.
  • Former Dodger catcher Tim Federowicz was designated for assignment by the Cubs.

The Dodgers’ take on Day 2 of the 2016 draft

Eighth-round draft pick Andre Scrubb of High Point University (High Point Athletics)

Eighth-round draft pick Andre Scrubb of High Point University (High Point Athletics)

By Jon Weisman

As the Dodgers completed the first 10 rounds of the 2016 MLB draft, some fans scratched their heads over the selection of three shortstops, considering that the team has a 22-year-old future All-Star at the position.

But in discussing the Dodgers’ selections today, director of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino explained the thinking — and no, it’s not that the Dodgers have forgotten about Corey Seager.

“The theory is that looking throughout the history of the draft and how athletes develop and age, when they’re athletic enough to play shortstop, it’s a pretty good recipe — as they age and get older and their skills develop and their bodies go forward or backwards — they can usually play other positions,” Gasparino said. “So many players today who are left fielders or right fielders, third basemen, second basemen, started out as shortstops. If you can start there, it’s a lot easier to transition to other places on the field, and gives you more avenues of versatility that way.”

In other words, this isn’t the NBA. With development such a long, protracted process in baseball — and almost no such thing as a quick fix — the overwhelming tendency is to take the player with the greatest potential, regardless of what the current Major League roster looks like. If the worst-case scenario is the Dodgers have multiple quality shortstops, they’ll live with that.

Gasparino also said that the drafting of several players from smaller four-year or community colleges illustrates an attempt to find value within a draft landscape where so few rocks go unturned.

“The depth of the draft is a priority and something we preach,” he said, “so in many ways it leads you to go look for those players, and you kind of think you have value there, whereas (for example) the junior center fielder from the University of Georgia has been well seen.”

Though players at different levels — or even at the same level but from different regions — obviously don’t face the same level of competition, the Dodgers are confident in their ability to translate performance.

“That’s why we have the tool grades, and you just look at the physical tools,” Gasparino said. “And I think our analytical staff does a very good job of analyzing the numbers and trying to correlate different levels of competition with a lot of different factors. And just our scouts’ experience: We have a lot of experience on the staff, and they seem to have a very good knack of trying to cipher through that stuff and figure out who the better players are.”

Gasparino said that advanced scouting stats such as exit velocity and spin rate have migrated to the Division I colleges and high-school summer showcases, further enhancing their ability to evaluate.

And with that, here are quick thoughts from Gasparino on each of the Dodgers’ draft picks today:

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Dodgers take lefty Devin Smeltzer in Round 5

By Jon Weisman

Left-handed pitcher Devin Smeltzer was the Dodgers’ fifth-round selection in the 2016 MLB draft.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder from Voorhees, New Jersey was previously drafted by the Padres in the 33rd round in 2014. A former top-100 prospect of Baseball America, he instead attended Florida Gulf Coast University, before transfering to San Jacinto College in Texas to accelerate his path to the pros, according to Dana Caldwell of the Naples Daily News.

He had a 1.18 ERA and 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings with SJC this year, finishing his season with a 20-strikeout two-hitter, in which he threw 140 pitches.

This figures to be the final 2016 draft pick we’ll do an individual post on. We’ll round up the rest of the Day 2 selections later today — in the meantime, follow the action at MLB.com’s Draft Tracker.

D.J. Peters, 6-foot-6 outfielder, taken in fourth round by Dodgers

PetersBy Jon Weisman

With their fourth-round pick and the 131st taken overall in the MLB draft, the Dodgers selected their second 6-foot-6 player in a row: 20-year-old right-handed outfielder D.J. Peters, from Glendora High School by way of Western Nevada Community College.

Peters had a .519 on-base percentage and .734 slugging percentage in 2016 for the Wildcats, with 31 extra-base hits and 34 walks compared with 33 strikeouts. For context, his .419 batting average and 16 home runs in 2016 set school records. (He also had a 1.35 ERA in 6 2/3 innings)

As this Western Nevada story notes, Peters was taken in the 36th round twice before, by the Texas Rangers last year and by the Cubs after his senior year at Glendora.

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Dodgers draft high school RHP Dustin May in third round

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By Jon Weisman

Kicking off their selections in today’s second day of the MLB Draft, the Dodgers used their third-round pick (101st overall) on right-handed pitcher Dustin May from Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.

May, who turns 19 in September, checks in at 6-foot-6, 180 pounds. Here’s the MLB.com scouting report on him:

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As Dodgers eye 2016 draft, 2015 selections progress

Vanderbilt's Walker Buehler was the Dodgers' No. 1 draft pick in 2015. (Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler was the Dodgers’ No. 1 draft pick in 2015. (Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

With three picks before the second round of Thursday’s 2016 MLB draft, the Dodgers are sitting pretty.

And on top of that, their top pick from 2015, Walker Buehler — who had Tommy John surgery in August before appearing in a professional game — is on course to make this year’s haul even stronger.

“Walker Buehler’s going to be ready to throw next year — he’s almost like a pick this year,” Gasparino said. “We feel good about his recovery, his rehab and where he’s at in the process.”

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The 10th anniversary of drafting Clayton Kershaw

Flanked by Dodger scout Calvin Jones and his mother Marianne, 18-year-old Clayton Kershaw signs with the Dodgers. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

Flanked by Dodger scout Calvin Jones and his mother Marianne, 18-year-old Clayton Kershaw signs with the Dodgers. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

By Jon Weisman

On June 6, 2006, the Dodgers made their best single front-office decision of this century and long before it.

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Farhan Zaidi discusses Dodger draft signings

Dodgers at Nationals, 4:05 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Yasiel Puig, RF
Andre Ethier, LF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Mike Bolsinger, P

By Jon Weisman

Hours before they started the second half of their season in Washington, the Dodgers met the deadline for singing players from the 2015 amateur draft by locking up first-round draft choice Walker Buehler, sixth-rounder Edwin Rios and 30th-rounder Logan Crouse.

Buehler’s signing came amid some media reports today that he had an elbow issue.

“We’re not going to comment on anything medically related to Walker,” Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi said. “We’re obviously excited to have him on board. He finished the college season strong, obviously pitched in the College World Series.”

Rios, who had a .421 on-base percentage and .591 slugging percentage with 18 home runs in 61 games for Florida International in his junior season this year, was the only corner infielder in the first 10 rounds of Dodger draft selections. Negotiations went down to the wire.

“We went really pitching heavy,” Zaidi said, “so being able to get a college bat with some polish and hopefully the ability to hit in the middle of the lineup is exciting. It took a little bit of time to hammer out the deal, so the lost development time is unfortunate, but we’re obviously excited to have him now. We’ll start him out in Arizona and hopefully move out to one of the other clubs shortly thereafter.”

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Dodgers sign College World Series stars Sborz, Pfeifer

Josh Sborz reacts after striking out the final Vanderbilt batter in Game 2 of the College World Series Championship Series (Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Josh Sborz reacts after striking out the final Vanderbilt batter in Game 2 of the College World Series Championship Series (Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

Two of the top arms from the College World Series who were drafted by the Dodgers last month — Virginia right-handed pitcher Josh Sborz and Vanderbilt lefty Philip Pfeifer — have inked their deals with the team.

Sborz was named Most Valuable Player of the CWS after he threw 13 shutout innings there, part of a season-ending 27-inning scoreless streak that lowered his 2015 ERA to 1.60.

Pfeifer allowed three runs (all unearned) in 12 innings at the CWS on 12 hits and four walks, while striking out 13.

The Dodgers have signed 32 of their 42 draft picks.

Dodger draftees shine at College World Series

Giants at Dodgers, 5:08 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alex Guerrero, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Brett Anderson, P

By Jon Weisman

The College World Series has been a showcase for 2015 Dodger draftees Walker Buehler, Philip Pfeifer and Josh Sborz.

Sborz, a Virginia right-hander who has alternated between starting and relief in his three years there, pitched four shutout innings to close out a 5-4 victory Saturday over Florida, lifting the Cavaliers into the CWS championship round. Sborz has a streak of 23 consecutive scoreless innings, including nine in the CWS.

Josh Sborz’s nine shutout innings in College World Series:

  • June 13: three innings, one hit, one walk, five strikeouts, 40 pitches
  • June 15: two innings, no hits, no walks, no strikeouts, 20 pitches
  • June 20: four innings: three hits, one walk, two strikeouts, 54 pitches
  • Total: nine innings, four hits, two walks, seven strikeouts, 114 pitches

In the best-of-three CWS championship series beginning Monday, Virgina will play Vanderbilt, which features Buehler and Pfeifer in its starting rotation. Buehler allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings (89 pitches) Friday against Texas Christian, striking out eight, in pitching the Commodores to the final round.

That came three days after Pfeifer’s seven shutout innings (111 pitches) with seven strikeouts in a 1-0 Vandy victory over TCU. Pfeifer is scheduled to start Tuesday’s Game 2 on six days’ rest, with Buehler possibly taking Game 3 on four days’ rest if necessary Wednesday.

Ross Stripling returns to action after Tommy John surgery

Los Angeles Dodgers workoutBy Jon Weisman

Back on the mound after Tommy John surgery, Dodger pitching prospect Ross Stripling made his first official start since August 2013, pitching four shutout innings for Single-A Great Lakes on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Stripling allowed a single and two walks, while striking out four. Across two levels in 2013, Stripling had a 2.82 ERA, 117 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP in 127 2/3 innings in 2013.

Stripling began throwing in January, he told Dodger Insider, nine months after his operation.

* * *

The Dodgers announced the following signings from the 2015 draft:

Dodgers at Rangers, 5:05 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 1B
Andre Ethier, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
(Carlos Frias, P)
  • Catchers (3 of 6): Matthew Beaty (12th round), Jacob Henson (21st round) and Gage Green (35th)
  • Second basemen (3 of 3): Willie Calhoun (fourth), Chris Godinez (18th) and Jordan Tarsovich (22nd)
  • Shortstops (1 of 2): Nick Dean (32nd)
  • Outfielders (3 of 5): Logan Landon (10th), Kyle Garlick (28th) and Edwin Drexler (38th)
  • Right-handed pitchers (12 of 22): Tommy Bergjans (eighth), Kevin Brown (ninth), Andrew Istler (23rd), Cameron Palmer  (24th), Marcus Crescentini (26th), Ivan Vieitez (27th), Corey Copping (31st), Adam Bray (33rd), Drayton Riekenberg (36th), Charles Mulholland (37th), Chris Powell (39th) and Isaac Anderson (40th).
  • Left handed pitchers (2 of 3): Michael Boyle (13th) and Robert McDonnell (25th)

In addition, the club signed third baseman Nicholas Sell, the NCAA Division II most outstanding player, and pitcher Wes Heslabeck as non-drafted free agents.

Dodgers wrap up draft heavy in college righties

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andre Ethier, LF
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Brett Anderson, P

By Jon Weisman

After taking right-handed college pitchers with six of their first nine picks, the Dodgers didn’t drift very far from that focus as the 2015 MLB Draft concluded today.

Although the Dodgers drafted five catchers between rounds 12-21, the franchise still ended up using 22 of their 42 picks overall on northpaws — 17 of them from college. (See the round-by-round list here.)

2015 draft

Draft Day II: The running list

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By Jon Weisman

Here’s a link to MLB’s 2015 Draft Tracker of the Dodgers’ selections. Today brings rounds 3-10, and you can either follow along at MLB or see your updates as they come here at Dodger Insider.

The third round begins at 10 a.m., with the Dodgers making the 26th pick of that round and 101st overall.

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Virginia RHP Josh Sborz is final Dodger pick of MLB Draft’s first day

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By Jon Weisman

Using the competitive balance draft pick (74th overall) they acquired from Baltimore in the Ryan Webb deal, the Dodgers selected 6-foot-3 college right-handed pitcher Josh Sborz from Virginia.

Here’s the MLB.com snapshot:

Sborz, whose brother Jay spent eight seasons in pro ball, pitched in relief as a freshman at Virginia before moving into the rotation as a sophomore. He returned to the bullpen in 2015, serving as the Cavaliers’ closer and thriving in the role. Sborz’s arm strength is what defines him as a prospect. He’s shown a fastball that he can crank up to 98 mph on occasion, though it usually sits in the 93-95 mph range, with some sink. He has a slider that should be at least Major League average and while he doesn’t need a changeup much in short relief, he will show occasional feel for the pitch. Scouts aren’t in love with his funky arm action, but the stuff is hard to be denied. Sborz didn’t pitch badly as a sophomore starter, and it’s possible a team taking him early could decide to send him out in a rotation. But he more than likely profiles as a hard-throwing short reliever at the Major League level.

And Baseball America

The younger brother of one-time major leaguer and second-round pick Jay Sborz, Josh has the potential to be the second in his family to reach the big leagues. The younger Sborz has bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen for Virginia, and scouts have had ample time to evaluate him in both places. Sborz has a less than conventional delivery, with a stab in the back followed by a deep finish out front that makes his stuff difficult to square up. His fastball works mostly at 90-94 mph, but can reach 95 and the pitch features late life, which allows Sborz to generate poor contact. His best offspeed pitch is his slider, which plays as an above-average pitch because of how late it breaks, but the pitch lacks the shape and depth of the standard swing-and-miss slider. Sborz tends to struggle with fastball command, sometimes elevating the offering and running into trouble. Even so, many scouts believe Sborz has the stuff, as well as the body, to make it as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

The MLB draft resumes beginning with the third round Tuesday morning.

Dodgers draft prep OF Mitch Hansen in second round

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By Jon Weisman

Mitch Hansen, a 6-foot-4 left-handed outfielder from Plano Senior High in Texas, is the Dodgers’ second-round pick (67th overall) in the 2015 MLB draft.

Here’s what MLB.com says about him:

One of the more well-rounded position players in the 2015 Draft class, Hansen has solid tools across the board. Evaluators who like him think several of those could develop into plusses, though he’ll have to get picked early to deter him from his Stanford commitment. Hansen has a fluid, compact left-handed swing and a good feel for hitting. He uses the entire field, has performed well against quality pitching on the showcase circuit and with the U.S. 18-and-under national team, and is growing into some power. He’s not especially quick out of the batter’s box but flashes plus speed at times once he gets going. Hansen has enough speed and arm strength to play all three outfield positions, though he profiles best in right field. Scouts have compared him to Michael Saunders and Mets prospect Brandon Nimmo, a high school first-rounder in 2011.

And Baseball America

In 1991, the Blue Jays were enamored enough with a tall, sweet-swinging and academically-inclined lefthanded-hitting outfielder to pick him sixth overall, which was enough to induce him to forgo his scholarship to Stanford. Both Shawn Green and the Blue Jays made a wise decision as Green went on to play nearly 2,000 MLB games. He’s unlikely to go in the top six picks, but Hansen, a tall, sweet-swinging and academically-inclined lefthanded-hitting outfielder with a Stanford commitment will face a similar decision. Hansen has been a two-sport star at Plano playing quaterback/wide receiver and outfield and his sister just set an Ivy League record in winning the women’s heptathlon. Hansen has an ideal corner outfielder’s frame as he should add significant good weight to his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. He plays center field for now and shows good reads and routes, but will likely grow to a corner spot as he gets bigger and slows down. He’s currently an above-average runner who turns in plus times at his best. His arm is below-average. His swing can get long at times, but it’s a smooth stroke with some lift and leverage that could eventually produce above-average power. Signability is a question if he falls far in the draft.

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