Los Angeles Dodgers MLB Draft Results: Scouting Profiles for 2012 Picks
Today marks the first day of Major League Baseball's 2012 amateur draft. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, this also represents the first major opportunity for their new ownership to start putting their stamp on the franchise.
The Dodgers used to have one of MLB's premier minor league systems, but maintaining that edge became less of a point of emphasis during the dark ages of Frank McCourt's ownership of the team. Now that those days are in the rear view mirror, expect veteran baseball executive and new Dodgers team president Stan Kasten and Assistant General Manager Logan White to work hard to quickly start replenishing the minor league ranks.
Los Angeles has three picks in the first 100, so we should find out pretty quickly what direction the team is looking to go. Check in here for live updates of each Dodger pick, complete with analysis on how the player fits into the teams immediate and long-term plans.
First Round, No. 18: Corey Seager, SS, Northwest Cabarrus HS, NC
While Mike Rosenbaum of B/R's Prospect Pipeline blog projected the Los Angeles Dodgers to take Ty Hensley, a right-handed pitcher from Santa Fe High School in Oklahoma, the Dodgers addressed a more crucial need by drafting their potential third baseman of the future in Corey Seager, the 21st rated prospect in this year's draft as rated by ESPN.com's Keith Law
Those who follow prospects closely may already know Corey as the younger brother of Seattle Mariners rookie infielder Kyle, who's been a bright spot for an otherwise disappointing Mariners squad.
Corey played shortstop in high school, but at an already strong 6' 3" and 190 pounds, he projects to be a third baseman at the major league level. This is great news for Dodger fans as he would fit nicely on the left side of the infield next to current shortstop Dee Gordon.
As a power-hitting infielder with superb defensive skills, Seager could turn out to be the best third base prospect the team has selected since Adrian Beltre in 1994.
Compensatory A, No. 52: Jesmuel Valentin, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
The Dodgers immediately began addressing the weakest part of their minor league system—a lack of blue chip position players—by selecting Corey Seager with their first-round pick.
That pick demonstrated a commitment to balancing out a minor league system that is currently pitching heavy. But the selection of Puerto Rican shortstop Jesmuel Valentin is equally symbolic, showing that the Dodgers are rededicating themselves to identifying top international talent.
Valentin has a lot in common with Seager as they are both shortstops, projected to switch to other infield positions at the major league level (second base in the case of Valentin). Like Seager, he also ha major league pedigree, as the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin.
Jesmuel, along with No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa, starred in the PRBA, and he had signed a letter of intent to play baseball at LSU next season. The high selection in the draft will likely guarantee that he doesn't make it to the college ranks.
Unlike Seager, the 5' 10", 174 pound Valentin has some work to do on the defensive side, and is not projected to provide a lot of home run power. Nevertheless, by 2014, he, Seager, and Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon could be holding down three-fifths of the Los Angeles infield for many years to come.
Second Round, No. 82: Steven Rodriguez, LHP, University of Florida
The Dodgers addressed their need for more high-ceiling position players in their minor league system by taking Corey Seager and Jesmuel Valentine with their first two picks of the draft. In the second round, they chose to add more depth to their pitching by drafting left-hander Steven Rodriguez out of the University of Florida.
While not projected to be a starter or closer, Rodriguez could develop into a terrific lefty specialist out of the bullpen, a role that could provide him with a very long major league career.
As a college junior, Rodriguez is in a position to help the Dodgers in the more immediate future, a good contrast to the long-term development needed for their first two picks. Coming from a top college program like Florida does continue LA's early trend of drafting players with strong baseball pedigrees.
Third Round, No. 113: Onelki Garcia, LHP, Cuba
This pick mirrors the Dodgers' second round pick of Steven Rodriguez.
Onelki Garcia, a left-handed fire-baller from Cuba, was originally slated to be taken in the 2011 draft, but had his eligibility revoked before officially being eligible for this year's draft. At 6' 2", Garcia has a strong build, and at almost 23 years old, could contribute to the Dodgers bullpen almost immediately, much like Rodriguez.
Unless he develops a third pitch to complement his fastball and curve, it's not likely that Garcia will develop into an effective major league starter. The Dodgers do have pitching depth in their bullpen and in the minor leagues, so they can afford to be patient with him if they indeed decide to experiment with him in that role.
Garcia had been working out in Los Angeles prior to the draft, so perhaps the Dodgers know something about him that others teams don't.
Fourth Round, No. 146: Justin Chigbogu, 1B, Raytown South HS, MO
After selecting back-to-back pitchers in rounds two and three, the Dodgers got back to the task of adding high-quality position prospects by selecting first baseman Justin Chibogu out of Raytown South high school in Missouri.
Chigbogu has a powerful build, but is a very raw talent that will likely need a lot of seasoning at the low minor league levels before the Dodgers truly know what they have. The one thing we know for sure is that he will not be another light-hitting corner infielder in the James Loney mold.
Fifth Round, No. 176: Ross Stripling, RHP, Texas A&M
The Dodgers may have gotten a steal in fifth round pick Ross Stripling. He's been one of the best pitchers in college baseball over the past two years, leading the NCAA in wins in 2011 and throwing a no-hitter last month.
As a college senior, Stripling has the maturity and pure stuff to advance through the minors at a rapid pace. He's a little raw since he hasn't been pitching for that long. But his path to the majors could be very similar to that of Chad Billingsley, another Dodgers right-hander with great stuff who also started his major league career as a reliever before transitioning into the rotation. Los Angeles fans can only hope that he ends up with more consistent results when that day comes.
Sixth Round, No. 206: Joey Curletta, OF, Mountain Pointe HS, AZ
Joey Curletta is a right-handed, power hitting outfielder who is one of the top high school players in the state of Arizona. At 6' 4" and 235 pounds, Curletta is built more like a power pitcher than an outfielder, and apparently scouts are now looking at him as more of a pitching prospect. But he's also considered one of the best athletes in the draft so who knows what the Dodgers have in store for him.
Seventh Round, No. 236: Theo Alexander, OF, Lake Washington HS, WA
The Dodgers went with back-to-back, power hitting high school outfielders, selecting Theo Alexander out of Lake Washington high school in Washington in the seventh round. Unlike sixth-round pick Joey Curletta, he is likely to remain in the outfield at the pro level.
The left-handed swinging Alexander is committed to playing for the University of California-Santa Barbara, but he may find the chance to get a jump start on his pro career to enticing to pass up.
Eight Round, No. 266: Scott Griggs, RHP, UCLA
The Dodgers went after more relief pitching by selecting UCLA Junior Scott Griggs. Griggs, who was recently named a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, is one of college baseball's top relief pitchers.
He set the single-season saves record at UCLA this season with 15 during the regular season.
Griggs is solidly built at 6' 4", 205 pounds, and is a strikeout machine. He could emerge as a closing candidate or a top set up man at the major level.
Ninth Round, No. 296: Zachary Bird, RHP, Murrah HS, MS
The Dodgers' ninth-round pick, Zachary Bird is a tall, wiry starter out of Mississippi. While not a particularly hard thrower, Bird does have a vast array of pitches—including a wicked curve ball—and exhibits good command. He should add velocity to his fastball as he fills out his 6' 3" frame.
Tenth Round, No. 326: Zach Babitt, 2B, Academy of the Arts U, CA
Zach Babitt is a small but speedy second baseman out of California's Academy of the Arts University. He hit's for a good average and has the type of plate discipline expected of a lead-off hitter.
The Dodgers may be looking at Compensatory A round selection Jesmuel Valentin as the long-term answer at 2B, but as a college senior, Babitt could serve as a solid stop gap while Los Angeles waits for Valentin to develop.