Kershaw Struts His Stuff

Baseball America correspondent Tony Jackson writes that Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey was bewildered by the curveball (click here to see the pitch) that 19-year-old Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw used to strike him out on Sunday.

"That was some of the best stuff I have seen in a long time as far as a new arm," Casey said. "The first pitch was a hammer, and I hate to say it was almost (Barry) Zito-like, but it broke with this 12-6 tilt. Imagine that from a guy who hits 97 (mph) with his fastball. Then he threw me another one that froze me. That was great stuff, big-league stuff, and I think he could help that team this year."

The Dodgers promoted Kershaw to their major league spring training camp, although manager Joe Torre said that Kershaw will not be competing for a spot on the major league roster to open the season. Count Dodgers catcher Russell Martin among those impressed by Kershaw’s pitch quality.

"He keeps his fastball down and knee high," Martin said. "There’s not really much you can do with a 96-mile-per-hour fastball knee high. And he has that tremendous breaking ball. The hitters have to pick one because if they’re sitting on one, they can’t hit the other. He’s pitching like a major-league pitcher. You can just tell by how the hitters are reacting to his stuff, getting jammed, buckling on curveballs."

Kershaw became the first high school player from the 2006 draft to reach Double-A last year when the Dodgers promoted him from low Class A Great Lakes to Double-A Jacksonville, skipping him over high Class A Vero Beach. The No. 7 overall prospect in baseball, Kershaw is also the Dodgers’ top prospect and the top lefthander in the BA Top 100.