The Big Leap For Clayton The Kid

Puneet SinghContributor IMay 20, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on May 1, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Padres 1-0.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Within two to three years, many baseball fans along with GM's and executives will be saying one of two things. Either: wow this was a great draft, or this was one of the biggest bust drafts ever. High Potential, High Risk.

Notable names to have come out of this draft are Luke Hochevar, Evan Longoria, Brandon Morrow, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Max Scherzer and Ian Kennedy; all of whom have gotten up to the majors in a quick period of time.

Lincecum and Longoria have already leaped to greatness and potentially may be the best at their position within the next year or two. Lincecum has a CY Young award under his belt and an all star game, while Longoria in his 1st semi full season got to the All Star game as well.

So who's the next of that list that I gave you to make the jump to prominence? Look no further than Clayton Kershaw.

Everything is in the right place for this kid to succeed. First off, look what team he plays for...HE'S IN MANNYWOOD BABY! With the Dodgers playing in the NL West which is baseballs equivalent of the Eastern Conference in the NBA, the goal is to get to 87 wins and you're into the playoffs.

It also helps not having to be the staff ace and rushed into a situation of being a savior which was exactly what happened to Felix Hernandez out in Seattle. With Chad Billingsley carrying the staff the way Jason Schmidt was suppose to be(betcha didn't even know he was alive still; ironically he's in his last year of that three yr 45 mil deal)and good veterans around him such as Randy Wolf and Hideki Kuroda when he comes off the DL, he and teammate Eric Stults have less pressure to succeed.

But why settle for less? Some of Kershaw's starts this season have left viewers awe struck. Look no further than the one hitter of the Marlins through 7 innings the other night. His line for that night: 119 Pitches, 7 IP, 1 ER, 9 K's, 4 BB's. This is nothing out of the ordinary for him. HE CAN DO THIS NIGHT IN AND NIGHT OUT. The key for him is developing consistency. It's the only thing that separates him from being a 13 game winner this year and an 18 to 20 game winner. He has the makeup of an ace, with two dominating pitches(his fastball and curve) and he's beginning to master the changeup as well.

While Morrow, Kennedy, Scherzer and Hochevar are all having or have had difficult times in the Majors up to this date, Kershaw is rather fine.

He was eased into the rotation as a number five last year towards the middle of the season as opposed to Kennedy who was thrown into the fire from the get go last year by the Yanks and had a miserable meltdown and Morrow who's been bounced around between the bullpen and rotation so much that its messed with his psyche.

Scherzer is slowly beginning to develop, but even then its not at the pace that the D'Backs had in mind when they drafted him and Hochevar is making the Royal's management look flat out foolish for passing over Lincecum Longoria and Kershaw.

Kershaw's progression and success of this year just shows that he will take the leap to greatness sooner rather than later.

It's safe to say that the Dodgers progression for this year does squarely fall on that left shoulder and arm of Clayton Kershaw. They are already a lock for the NL West.

But if Kershaw begins to shine like the star he's destined to be ahead of schedule, the Dodgers can see themselves making a deep run in the playoffs and possibly a strong run to the World Series.

By next year we can be talking about Kershaw as the next dominant lefty, and the possibly forming a strong duo with Billingsley as a young dynamic 1-2 combo at the front of LA's rotation for years to come.