Signability is key for Dodgers' draft plan
Team aims not to repeat last year's issues with '06 draftees
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw, the first player taken by the Dodgers in Tuesday's draft, said he had a contract agreement with the club before the draft ever started.
Scouting director Logan White clarified, saying only parameters had been discussed to assure that both sides were comfortable where negotiations would head.
Either way, it was clear the Dodgers would not experience a replay of last year, when their top pick, Luke Hochevar, went unsigned. Signability was a key to White's draft this year.
"We won't have them playing independent ball this summer, I promise you that," White said, a reference to Hochevar, who wound up as the top overall pick Tuesday by Kansas City.
In addition to Kershaw, the Texas high school left-handed pitcher taken with the club's No. 7 overall pick, White drafted Tennessee junior college right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris with the No. 26 overall pick (compensation for losing Jeff Weaver), and three-sport star Preston Mattingly, son of former Yankee All Star Don Mattingly, with the No. 31 pick (also Weaver compensation).
Players taken in those slots last year received $2.3 million, $1.325 million and $1.025 million. The three top Dodgers picks are expected to receive pretty much the same and each indicated Tuesday that he would sign quickly.
"It was our best-case scenario," said White. "We got two power arms, a high-ceiling athlete with great bloodlines in Mattingly, and we took some guys down the road. I remember taking Russell Martin in the 17th round in '02. You can roll the dice in those later rounds."
Of the 50 players selected, 18 were infielders, 17 pitchers, six outfielders and nine catchers. There were 28 taken out of high school and 22 out of college, but five of the first seven were preps.
Name recognition made Mattingly the most intriguing pick.
"I definitely have a tendency to take players with bloodlines," White said. "The intangibles show up all the time. They've been in the clubhouse and are already used to all the things they'll experience. It can be intimidating. These guys are ahead of the game."
Hochevar was critical of White on Tuesday, saying that the Dodgers official did not feel that Hochevar was worthy of being paid with the top college pitchers of last year's draft. White said he had no hard feelings.
"I hope he's a great big-league pitcher," he said. "I have no animosity."
Hochevar, who sought a $4 million bonus from the Dodgers, agreed to, then reneged, on a $2.98 million agreement.
1. (7) Clayton Kershaw, LHP, 18, 6-4, 210, Highland Park H.S. (Texas): Considered to be the top high school pitcher in the draft and winner of the Gatorade Player of the Year award. He has a mid-90s-mph fastball, a legitimate curve and is a power pitcher in the mold of Dave Righetti, according to White.
1. (26) Bryan Morris, RHP, 19, 6-3, 175, Motlow State C.C. (Tenn.): His money pitch is the curveball, as he showed the Dodgers in a Sunday night tryout at Dodger Stadium. He re-entered the draft after a $1 million bonus deal with Tampa Bay unraveled after last year's draft. White compared him to John Smoltz.
Comp. round (31) Preston Mattingly, SS, 18, 6-3, 205, Evansville Central H.S. (Ind.): He might be a reach this high, but the Dodgers like the bloodlines (Don Mattingly's his father) and felt they needed an athletic position player (he's also a football receiver and basketball star) with this choice because their next pick wasn't until the fourth round. A right-handed hitter, he'll likely play first base or the outfield, but he's already indicated he won't fulfill a commitment to Tennessee.
4. (113) Kyle Orr, SS, 17, 6-5, 205, Lambrick Park H.S. (Canada): Considered the top-rated prospect in Canada, he signed a letter of intent with the University of Kentucky. A member of the Canadian National Junior Team, he also was a starting pitcher, but his middle of the order left-handed bat could land him in the outfield.
5. (143) Kyle Smit, RHP, 18, 6-2, 175, Spanish Springs H.S. (Nev.): He helped his suburban Reno high school team to the state championship in 2005. He throws a 93-mph fastball with a loose arm action and he struck out 61 in 50 1/3 innings.
6. (173) Garrett White, LHP, 22, 6-5, 230, U. of Mississippi: Bounced from the University of Texas to San Jacinto JC before landing at Mississippi, where as the closer he was 3-0 with a 2.68 and 10 saves this year. The Dodgers believe he could reach the Major Leagues quickly.
7. (203) Jaime Ortiz, 1B, 6-0, 185, San Alfonso de Ligorio (Puerto Rico): He has a slick glove and a sweet swing with developing power for his size.
8. (233) Thomas Giles, RF, 22, 6-0, 190, U. of Miami: This left-handed hitter is from Vero Beach High School and once was a batboy at Holman Stadium. He's athletic, able to work a count and batted .340 this year with a .576 slugging percentage and only one error.
9. (263) Bridger Hunt, 3B, 20, 6-0, 185, Central Missouri St.: He hit .415 with 74 RBIs in 60 games and has the ability to play numerous positions in the infield and outfield.
10. (293) Andrew D'Allesio, 1B, 21, 6-3, 196, Clemson: The left-handed hitter averaged .321 with 45 RBIs in 52 games. He has raw power and is learning to lift the ball.
11. (323) Justin Fuller, SS, 22, 6-1, 170, Lewis & Clark St. Col.: He was the All-NAIA player of the year, an overachiever in the mold of Mike Bordick. He hit .339 his last year.
12. (353) Paul Coleman, LHP, 22, 6-4, 195, Pepperdine: A former reliever, he's now a starter and he came up big in the NCAA playoffs against UCLA. He doesn't throw hard but he knows how to pitch.
13. (383) Nicholas Akins, SS, 18, 6-1, 190, Los Angeles H.S.: He has raw power but is just as raw with his other baseball skills.
14. (413) Alex White, RHP, 17, 6-3, 185, D.H. Conley H.S. (N.C.): Was 9-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 59 innings. Was rated No. 71 overall by Baseball America, which would have put him near the end of the second round, but presumably fell because of signability questions, in part because he's a big-time college basketball prospect too. Throws a hard slider and a fastball in the 90s.
15. (443) Gorman Erickson, C, 18, 6-3, 205, Westview H.S. (Calif.): He's a switch-hitting catcher just growing into his frame. His father was a Minor League player.
16. (473) Justin Coats, SS, 18, 5-8, 180, Texas H.S. (Texas): He's a sparkplug type middle infielder with above-average running speed.
17. (503) Michael Rivera, 2B, 21, 6-0, 185, Tennessee: A proven hitter throughout his collegiate career, a blue-collar type who plays hard.
18. (533) Joseph Jones, RHP, 23, 6-5, 210, U. of Portland: He's the son of Dodgers scout Hank Jones. He has good arm action and has solid makeup.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.