What The System Has Produced Lately: In terms of significant players developed and kept by the Dodgers, only lefthander Luke Prokopec during the last two years. The only recent homegrown players on the current 40-man roster are second baseman Joe Thurston, outfielder Chin-Feng Chen and third-string catcher David Ross. To get help for the major league club, Los Angeles has resorted to trading prospects. Prokopec helped bring Cesar Izturis and Paul Quantrill from the Blue Jays, and the Dodgers obtained Omar Daal, Dave Roberts and Daryle Ward for players who werent in their long-term plans. However, they also overpaid for Tyler Houston (Ben Diggins and Shane Nance) and Paul Shuey (Ricardo Rodriguez and Francisco Cruceta) five days apart last July.
Best-Stocked Position: Lefthanded starters, most of whom were acquired in 2002. Jonathan Figueroa signed for $500,000 in January and made that look like a bargain by posting a 1.42 ERA, .147 opponent average and 105 strikeouts in 76 innings in his pro debut. Draft picks Greg Miller (supplemental first round), Mike Megrew (fifth) and Eric Stults (15th) all proved tough to hit in their first pro summer. In December, the Dodgers acquired Derek Thompson in a major league Rule 5 draft trade with the Cubs, though he was lost for 2003 after elbow surgery. Besides that group, Hong-Chih Kuo has taken the long road back from Tommy John surgery but still pops the gun at 97 mph on occasion.
Best Teenage Prospect: The Dodgers are loaded with blue-chip teenagers, beginning with the top three prospects in the entire system: first baseman James Loney, 18, Figueroa, 19, and righthander Edwin Jackson, 19. While Loney helped Elkins High (Missouri City, Texas) win the national high school title last spring, most teams preferred him as a pitcher. Los Angeles liked his bat, and he hit .350 and reached high Class A before a pitch broke his left wrist. He, Figueroa and Jackson all could make it to Dodger Stadium before they reach legal drinking age.
Prepare For Takeoff: The Gary Sheffield trade in January 2002 is looking more and more one-sided in favor of the Dodgers. Not only did they get their current ace (Odalis Perez) and a solid outfielder (Brian Jordan), but they also received righthander Andrew Brown as a throw-in. Tommy John surgery had stunted his development with the Braves, but he has taken off with Los Angeles. This spring, he was throwing 93-96 mph and showing a nasty curveball.
Time Is Running Out For: Third baseman Brennan King, a 1999 second-round pick, never has developed the power the Dodgers expected. With just 12 homers in four pro seasons, hes slipping down the organization depth chart.
Previous organization report: Victor Alvarez
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