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Dodgers Sign Andy LaRoche
By Josh Boyd
LaRoche's talent warranted a higher selection in June. But teams were concerned about his signability because he turned down the Padres as a draft-and-follow, and because he was planning on transferring to Rice.
LaRoche, the son of former all-star Dave LaRoche, hit .326-6-18 in 26 games for the Wareham Gateman. Despite breaking a bone in his left leg in a collision while playing first base, his stock soared and scouts projected him as a 2004 first-rounder.
LaRoche, drafted in the 21st round out of Grayson County by San Diego in 2002, turned down an offer believed to be around $200,000 before re-entering the 2003 draft. His bonus demands continued to escalate with his Cape success. The Dodgers found extra money in their draft budget when it became apparent they weren't going to sign third-rounder Cory Van Allen.
LaRoche's bonus is believed to be the highest for a non draft-and-follow outside of the top three rounds. Twenty-sixth rounders Sean Henn ($1.9 million from Yankees in 2001) and Manny Parra ($1.55 million from Brewers in 2002) are tops in the draft-and-follow category.
LaRoche, whose brother Adam is the top first-base prospect in the Braves system, will report to Rookie-level Ogden for the final two weeks of the season and prepare for instructional league. The Dodgers will keep him at shortstop for now, though his long-term ability to stay there is uncertain. His instincts and arm strengths are plusses, but his range is fringy. LaRoche could handle the offensive and defensive responsibilities at second or third base, and Dodgers scouts are intrigued by his potential as a catcher.