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Baseball America Dodger Prospect Report
2005-02-09 09:44
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Because of time constraints, analysis of the Baseball America report on the Dodgers' Top 10 Prospects will mostly have to give way to an open chat thread. Just try to remember that the rising players on this list are all too young to bank on, and the falling players on this list are all too young to give up on.

Before you rush to point out how few Dodger prospects have made it over the years, remember that times change. At the same time, we have to wait and see, even on the Joel Guzmans of the world who look so good but might take as long as Adrian Beltre to conquer the world, if that's even in the cards.

Just more of your anti-generalizing, glass-is-both-half-empty-and-half-full proselytizing from Dodger Thoughts!

The list:

1. Joel Guzman, ss
2. Chad Billingsley, rhp
3. Edwin Jackson, rhp
4. James Loney, 1b
5. Andy LaRoche, 3b
6. Russell Martin, c
7. Greg Miller, lhp
8. Blake DeWitt, 3b
9. Jonathan Broxton, rhp
10. Chuck Tiffany, lhp

Best Hitter for Average: Blake DeWitt
Best Power Hitter: Joel Guzman
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Cory Dunlap
Fastest Baserunner: Jason Repko
Best Athlete: Matt Kemp
Best Fastball: Edwin Jackson
Best Curveball: Chuck Tiffany
Best Slider: Chad Billingsley
Best Changeup: Alfredo Gonzalez
Best Control: Steve Schmoll
Best Defensive Catcher: Russell Martin
Best Defensive Infielder: Ching-Lung Hu
Best Infield Arm: Andy LaRoche
Best Defensive Outfielder: Jason Repko
Best Outfield Arm: Xavier Paul

(Note: There will be a live chat on the Dodger prospects on Baseball America at 11 a.m.)

Nowhere on the Top 10 is Willy Aybar, whom Baseball Prospectus today hinted was the second-best second-base prospect in baseball. However, some discussion on Baseball Primer contends that the Dodgers' Nos. 11-20 prospects could compete with the top 10 of most other teams. Post No. 19 by "CanuckDodger" lists some names for that second 10: Hu, Scott Elbert, Dunlap, Dioner Navarro, Yhency Brazoban (still qualifies as a rookie with only 32 2/3 innings in his career), Delwyn Young, Aybar, Kemp, Julio Pimentel, Joel Hanrahan.

Honestly, if the Dodgers can't get a star or two out of that group of 20, either through performance or through trade ...

Update: Bad news, good news on Greg Miller, according to BA's Alan Matthews:

He had surgery approximately two weeks ago on his shoulder. Why is that good? Because finally a concrete ailment was discovered and Miller had his shoulder scoped to clean it up, hopefully, once and for all. He should begin playing catch in spring training and could be back in a minor league game by June.

Isn't this the kind of thing we should learn about - much sooner - on Dodgers.com?

Update 2: In addition to the above news about Miller, Matthews had some interesting information and opinions to share in his chat. Some other highlights:

  • Repko has really persevered and is coming off his finest season after going in the first round in 1999. He is the organization's best outfielder and could contribute in a part-time role as soon as this season in L.A.

  • Chin-Lung Hu and the aformentioned Julio Pimentel are two guys who were on the cusp of the top 10 who have considerable ceilings. Hu has a great glove and can really pick it, but also pleased many scouts with his pop at the plate. Pimentel dominated at times last year at Columbus when he got his breaking ball over for strikes, like the 16-strikeout, seven-inning outing in June versus Rome. His fastball has been clocked as high as 94 mph and sat near 90 with boring action.

  • Long term, I still like Martin over Navarro, though Navarro is more developed and seasoned as a catcher and should contend for a backup-platoon role in the majors this season.

  • The Dodgers like (Cody) Ross, and he had a great close to the season last summer. But he's one of those "upside down" guys, who throws left and hits right, which makes it tough to slot him in a lineup, especially with lofty strikeout totals. He's a good defensive player,though not as good as Repko. Ross needs to learn to be more selective at the plate.

  • Also, the organization made some changes in minor league instructors and will likely adopt a slightly less agressive approach to moving players up, in light of the recent injuries to Miller, (Mike) Megrew and Jose Diaz.

  • The Dodgers shifted Aybar from third base to second base where his power numbers play better. He is a good athlete and made the adjustments at second base well, though I see him as an extra infielder on a contending big league team. He is ranked in this year's Top 30.

  • I do not believe [Jackson] will be a "flop." The organization changed his mechaincs and he never looked comfortable last season. He lost his balance over the mound. It looked like Edwin was dragging his arm through and not collapsing at the wasit the same way he was when he soared up the prospect charts in 2003. He is still young and has only been pitching full-time since 2002, so let's not give up on him just yet.

    Update 3: Here's an excerpt from John Manuel's Baseball America feature on Miller:

    Millerís first operation was arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in March 2004. The Dodgers expected him back by June or July last season. Instead, he missed the whole year. Miller would progress well with his throwing program, long tossing to build up his arm strength, but when he got back on a mound, inflammation and soreness returned in the shoulder. Finally, the Dodgers and Miller found the problem during an MRI exam. The tip of his shoulder blade was shaped in such a way that it was causing the inflammation by rubbing up against tissue in the shoulder.

    Surgery was performed to shave down the bone, hopefully precluding further inflammation and giving Miller a chance to get back on the mound pain-free. The procedure technically is known as acromioplasty, the surgical reshaping of the acromion (the tip of the shoulder blade).

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