|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|Texas high school righthander Chris Withrow (first round) was shooting up draft boards as the draft approached, and the Dodgers know high school pitchers. California prep righty Kyle Blair (fifth round) has similar talent but may be difficult to sign.|
LOS ANGELES--The guys in the Dodgers' war room crossed their fingers and held their breath when the Philadelphia Phillies made their first-round selection at No. 19, one spot ahead of the Dodgers. When the Phillies took Rice lefthander Joe Savery, Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White and scouting director Tim Hallgren were ecstatic, knowing they were about to get the player they had wanted all along at No. 20.
Minutes later, Chris Withrow was ecstatic, too.
"I was completely shocked," said the righthander from Midland (Texas) Christian High. "To be honest, I didn't think I would go that high. But of course, there were rumors floating around. After all the ups and downs, I'm very happy with how things turned out."
Withrow, 18, doesn't project quite as highly as the Texas high schooler the Dodgers took with last year's top pick, lefty Clayton Kershaw. But he already is polished beyond his years, a fact that could speed his path to the majors.
"He is athletic, and he has great makeup," White said. "He has a very good delivery and excellent arm action, some of the best arm action I have seen since I have been scouting, and his mechanics are good."
Withrow is being advised by Alan and Randy Hendricks, the same Houston-based agents who negotiated the $2.3 million signing bonus the Dodgers gave Kershaw last year. But Withrow isn't expected to cost nearly that much. He probably will fall somewhere between $1.2 million and $1.4 million, and both sides seemed optimistic that an agreement will be reached quickly.
"We work hard, and we visit with players and their families (before the draft)," White said. "We know the parameters, and I think we'll get this done. I think Chris' desire is to get out there and be a (professional) pitcher and get to playing. If you look at our track record for developing high school righthanders, it's pretty good."
That record includes Chad Billingsley (first round, 2003) and Jonathan Broxton (second round, 2002), both of whom are now in the majors.
Withrow said he has worked hard as a senior to maintain his composure on the mound during difficult times, though it isn't clear how many difficult times he went through--he was 9-1, 1.30 and struck out 90 batters in 50 innings, walking just eight.
The rest of the Dodgers' first-day haul included supplemental first-round pick James Adkins (39th overall), a lefty out of Tennessee, and four more high schoolers. In the second round, the Dodgers took Michael Watt, a lefty out of Capistrano Valley (Calif.) High. In the third-round, they took third baseman Austin Gallagher of Manheim Township (Pa.) High. In the fourth, it was outfielder Andrew Lambo of Newbury Park (Calif.) High. And finally, in the fifth, they drafted righthander Kyle Blair of Los Gatos High, who has a scholarship to the University of San Diego and is said to be leaning toward going there.
"I can't guarantee we're going to get him signed," White said. "He has a good delivery and a plus breaking ball."
• Lefty Scott Elbert, the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2004 and one of their top pitching prospects, is done for the season after exploratory arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday discovered scar tissue in his pitching shoulder. Elbert had been in extended spring training since early April to see if he could work through the shoulder soreness he experienced during three early-season starts at Double-A Jacksonville.
• Matt Kemp, who was optioned back to Triple-A Las Vegas when he came off the disabled list on April 27, is burning up the Pacific Coast League in an effort to force his way back to the majors. Through Wednesday, he was hitting .335 and was striking out less than once every six at-bats.