Outfielder Paul seen as future for Dodgers

Cole ClaybournCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2010

ST. LOUIS - JULY 18: Xavier Paul #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in action against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 18, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

When Manny Ramirez left the Los Angeles Dodgers for 50 games last season after being suspended for steroid use, outfield prospect Xavier Paul got his first crack at the big leagues.

In his short stint with the big league club, Paul hit .214 and stroked his first major league home run.

But it's what he's doing in the Minor Leagues that has the Dodgers organization excited for Paul's future.

"He was having a great year a Triple-A and came up and swung the bat well for us," Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly said.

Paul hit .328 with nine home runs and 68 RBI in 116 games at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2009 and stole eight bases.

"He's a guy that will give us a lot of versatility in the outfield," Mattingly said. "He can probably play all three spots in the outfield. He's a great kid, has a short stroke, and is another lefty for us."

Mattingly said the Dodgers let veteran Juan Pierre go because they simply didn't have a spot for him with Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier in the outfield but have been rumored to be pursuing Reed Johnson. If that deal goes through, playing time will be hard to come by for Paul with the Dodgers this season unless someone gets hurt in spring training.

Mattingly said he knows that it's tougher for young players to not play every day, but said it's important that they find Paul opportunities to play so that he keeps improving.

"We want him to keep developing because we think he's going to be great," he said. "Manny will be there for another year for sure, but we don't know after that. We want Xavier to keep developing so he doesn't get stuck and waste a year."

Paul missed quite a bit of time last year with MRSA, a type of staff infection, and also hurt his ankle when he ran in to the wall trying to catch a ball.

Mattingly said the fact that Paul missed so much time last season is another reason why they want to give him as much playing time as possible this season.

"We’d like to make sure he’s developed and ready to go because we look at him as an everyday player at some point," he said.


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