2006 Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 Prospects

Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player’s long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven’t exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2006.

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TOP TEN PROSPECTS
1. Chad Billingsley, rhp
2. Andy LaRoche, 3b
3. Joel Guzman, ss/3b
4. Russell Martin, c
5. Jonathan Broxton, rhp
6. Scott Elbert, lhp
7. Blake DeWitt, 3b
8. Matt Kemp, of
9. Etanislao Abreu, 2b
10. Chin-Lung Hu, ss
BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Blake DeWitt
Best Power Hitter Joel Guzman
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Russell Martin
Fastest Baserunner Trayvon Robinson
Best Athlete Matt Kemp
Best Fastball Jonathan Broxton
Best Curveball Chad Billingsley
Best Slider Jonathan Broxton
Best Changeup Julio Pimentel
Best Control Chad Billingsley
Best Defensive Catcher Russell Martin
Best Defensive Infielder Chin-Lung Hu
Best Infield Arm Andy LaRoche
Best Defensive Outfielder Cody Ross
Best Outfield Arm Xavier Paul
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1996 Karim Garcia, of Orix (Japan)
1997 Paul Konerko, 3b White Sox
1998 Paul Konerko, 1b White Sox
1999 Angel Pena, c Out of baseball
2000 Chin-Feng Chen, of Dodgers
2001 Ben Diggins, rhp Brewers
2002 Ricardo Rodriguez, rhp Rangers
2003 James Loney, 1b Dodgers
2004 Edwin Jackson, rhp Dodgers
2005 Joel Guzman, ss/of Dodgers
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1996 Damian Rolls, 3b Yankees
1997 Glenn Davis, 1b Out of baseball
1998 Bubba Crosby, of Yankees
1999 Jason Repko, ss/of Dodgers
2000 Ben Diggins, rhp Brewers
2001 Brian Pilkington (2nd round) Dodgers
2002 James Loney, 1b Dodgers
2003 Chad Billingsley, rhp Dodgers
2004 Scott Elbert, lhp Dodgers
2005 *Luke Hochevar, rhp Unsigned

Has not signed.

LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Joel Guzman, 2001 $2,250,000
Ben Diggins, 2000 $2,200,000
Hideo Nomo, 1995 $2,000,000
Scott Elbert, 2004 $1,575,000
Kazuhisa Ishii, 2002 $1,500,000
James Loney, 2002 $1,500,000

When the 2005 season began, the Chavez Ravine air was rife with optimism. The Dodgers were fresh off their National League West division title in 2004 and a popular pick to return to the playoffs. But after a promising 12-2 start, their season slipped away and they finished at 71-91, the franchise’s second-worst record (63-99 in 1992) since moving from Brooklyn in 1958.

Injuries and unsuccessful acquisitions spelled doom in the second season under the guidance of general manager Paul DePodesta. Los Angeles players missed 1,150 games due to injury, the most on any Dodgers club in two decades.

While Jeff Kent (two years, $19 million) produced as expected, DePodesta’s two biggest free-agent acquisitions—J.D. Drew (five years, $55 million) and Derek Lowe (four years, $36 million)—were disappointments. Meanwhile, Kent and Milton Bradley engaged in an ugly clubhouse feud.

All the chaos looked mild compared to the front-office turmoil that began the day after the season ended. DePodesta and manager Jim Tracy opted to part ways, with Tracy surfacing with the Pirates and taking pitching coach Jim Colborn and bench coach Jim Lett with him.

DePodesta’s search for a new manager abruptly halted four weeks later when owner Frank McCourt fired him. While McCourt didn’t detail the reasons for the dismissal, he said his criteria for a new GM included communication skills and the ability to evaluate talent. The Dodgers turned to Ned Colletti, assistant GM for the Giants under Brian Sabean for the last nine years.

Asked if the Dodgers were presently capable of putting a division winner on the field, Colletti smiled and said, “No.” But thanks to the deepest and most talented farm system in baseball, the Dodgers are on the cusp of becoming perennial contenders.

Double-A Jacksonville cruised to the Southern League championship (the first for a Dodgers affiliate since 2002). The first five players on this prospect list—righthander Chad Billingsley, third baseman Andy LaRoche, shortstop Joel Guzman, catcher Russell Martin and righty Jonathan Broxton—starred for the Suns, the Minor League Team of the Year.

Most of the Dodgers’ top prospects have been signed since Logan White became scouting director following the 2001 season. His first-round picks have included Billingsley (2003), lefthander Scott Elbert (2004) and third baseman Blake DeWitt (2004), all of whom made this Top 10, and first baseman James Loney (2002) and righty Justin Orenduff (2004), who just missed.

White’s 2005 draft doesn’t initially appear as promising as his first three efforts. Los Angeles forfeited its first-round pick for signing Lowe as a free agent and spent its first pick on Tennessee righthander Luke Hochevar. After a summer with little give and take, Hochevar switched agents in September and agreed to a $2.98 million bonus, then reneged and falsely accused White of trying to coerce him into signing a bad contract. The negotiations don’t appear salvageable.


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