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Wait Til Next Year on Dodger Prospects
2005-01-24 10:13
by Jon Weisman

Most of you are eager for Dodger propsect news, but in case you haven't gotten over to Wait Til Next Year and its Top 100 List yet, here are the key Dodger mentions from colleague Bryan Smith:

9. Chad Billingsley: In 1996, [Kerry Wood] was the rage of the Florida State League, with a 5.7 H/9, 10.7 K/9, and an odd 5.5 W/9. His stuff was as good as it gets, with a huge fastball and breaking pitch, along with the occasional solid third pitch. Billingsley, similarly, posted a 6.7 H/9, 10/9 K/9 and 4.8 W/9 this year. His stuff is similar to that of Wood, the player whom I am speaking of above. But unlike Kerry, Chad moved up and dominated AA in the same season, and is set for an appearance in Los Angeles some time this summer.

10. Joel Guzman: Like Jeff Francoeur before him, Joel Guzman has had BB/K numbers in his career that are worse than any Major League star. But I guess looking at Guzmanís career is where you get problems, since he wasnít nearly the player as heralded as the Dodgers had claimedÖuntil this year. Guzmanís breakout this year is what Los Angeles had hoped for years ago; they spent a record amount on him when he would have been just a sophomore in high school. With that said, itís hard to penalize Joel for waiting this long to show us his true colors, which is why I didnít. But, I think if Guzman, who is likely to move to third, is any reason the Dodgers didnít sign Adrian Beltre, thatís a large mistake. Guzman is another with a large ceiling, a lot of room for flame-out, with very little in-between. While scouts expect Guzman to grow even more than his 6-4 frame, pushing him away from shortstop, the Dodgers need to keep him there until itís absolutely necessary to move him. Let me give you some advice L.A. fans: pray there isnít.

23. Greg Miller: Even with a year missed, given what level he should begin at next season (AA), Miller is an extremely young prospect. Also, if Logan White is right that Miller has regained most of his stuff from his fantastic 2003 season, there should be no stopping him. I know this might fall on deaf ears to Dodger fans who have heard so much hype and seen so little results from Edwin Jackson, but trust me, these guys can make a difference. It might take Miller a little while to do so, recovering from the injury usually has a grace period, and the presence of Jackson, Chad Billingsley, Joel Hanrahan and Jonathan Broxton will allow the Dodgers to take him extremely slow. If I were a gambling man, I would bet on an ERA in the low 3.00s, a K/9 a bit below the nine mark, but a solid H/9. ...

45. Chuck Tiffany: ... (in his last four starts) the powerful lefty struck out 46 in 21.1 innings, allowing just ten hits and three earned runs in the process. My problem with Tiffany, is his lack of continued dominance even at a relatively easy level. After starting the season with nine solid starts (2.25 ERA), Chuck really ran into difficulty in his next nine. Only twice in those next batch of starts did Tiffany allow two or less earned runs, and in neither instance did he pitch more than four innings. His ERA for the nine games was 7.08, with 38 strikeouts and 41 hits allowed in 34.1 innings. ...

Honorable mention - Jonathan Broxton: ... his ranking would likely be higher if not for the loud murmurs that he's a candidate to make the switch to the bullpen. His control improved late in the season, quieting such talk, but such a big body will always harbor those debates. His performance in Vero Beach, like just about everyone that pitches there, was dominant. Care to be freaked out? Try comparing Broxton's peripherals (7.7 H/9, 3.0 W/9, 10.1 K/9, 1.19 WHIP) with those of Eric Gagne in the same stadium (7.6 H/9, 3.1 W/9, 9.3 K/9, 1.19 WHIP). ...

Honorable mention - Andy La Roche: Other than a low average in the second half of his season, at a level higher than what he began, there's really no reason to dislike Andy LaRoche as a prospect. His ISO was still quite high in Vero Beach, which as we've previously mentioned is a pitcher's park, and he continued to show fairly good patience. Considering how long it took Joel Guzman to adjust to the stadium, I think Dodgers' fans will understand that it's best for LaRoche to be sent back to high-A beginning next season. At some point, you'll probably see him move up to Jacksonville, with Blake DeWitt filling his shoes. ...

Honorable mention - James Loney: We heard the wrist excuses a year ago, when Loney was showing no power in a pitcher's park as a teenager. But then he came to Spring Training in 2004 and turned everyone's heads, making them proclaim that since his injury was healed, he was ready to start showing why he was a first-round pick in 2002. And then they sent him to the Southern League, and he regressed. Talk of the wrist injury not being healed resurfaced, but I'm just sick of the excuses. I like the low strikeout numbers, but at this point that's all I really like. He doesn't walk quite enough, and hasn't shown the ability to hit for average that was supposed to be his calling card. And his power? I really think he hit more home runs in the first week of exhibition games last spring than he did all year with Jacksonville. ...

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