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Draft Report Card

Brian Pilkington
Photo: Wagner Photography

Best Pro Debut: OF Sean Pierce (9) hit .311-6-43 with 29 stolen bases for Rookie-level Great Falls. LHP David Cuen (7) went 4-0, 1.42 with 49 strikeouts in 51 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He used a lively fastball that tops out at 90-91 mph to limit opponents to a .179 average.

Best Athlete: OF Cedric Benson (12) was the best athlete in the entire draft. Both his raw power and speed earn the maximum 8 grade on the 2-to-8 scouting scale. He’s still very raw as a baseball player, and there’s no question that football is his best sport. He won three Texas 5-A state championships and offensive-player-of-the-year award as a running back, and his 128 career touchdowns rank third all-time nationally. Benson is starting at tailback as a true freshman for the University of Texas, where he has five touchdowns in seven games. He’s frequently compared to Ricky Williams, the former Longhorns Heisman Trophy winner who also played briefly in the Phillies system. Pierce was a four-year wide receiver at San Diego State.

Best Hitter: Pierce has a mature approach at the plate and can handle breaking pitches. For the long term, OFs Ryan Carter (14) and David Cardona (8) also have promise. The best bat signed by the Dodgers this year might be 2B Victor Diaz, a 37th-round draft-and-follow who led the GCL in hitting at .354.

Best Raw Power: Benson, by far. The Dodgers didn’t go after much power in the draft, though Cardona showed some pop as a Puerto Rican high schooler.

Fastest Runner: Benson. Pierce also has plenty of quickness, rating a 7 for his speed.

Best Defensive Player: SS Josh Canales (16) made just nine errors in 52 games in full-season Class A. Pierce also is an asset in center field.

Best Fastball: RHP Kole Strayhorn opened eyes when he threw 96 mph at the 2000 Area Code Games, and the Dodgers saw him hit 97 last spring.

Most Intriguing Background: The Dodgers loaded up on two-sport stars beyond Benson and Pierce. Troy State recruited RHP David Taylor (3) as a quarterback. Canadian RHP Steve Nelson (5) would have been a 2001 NHL draft pick as a defenseman had he not given up hockey for baseball. For the second straight year, Los Angeles drafted 3B Brooks Bollinger (50), who’s better known as a quarterback at the University of Wisconsin–which doesn’t have a baseball team. Bollinger was interested in signing last year before Badgers football coaches discouraged it. The Dodgers have a better chance at him now that he’s a senior.

Closest To The Majors: Pierce or RHP Thom Ott (10), a reliever with a nifty slider.

Best Late-Round Pick: Benson has the highest upside and the Dodgers gambled just $250,000 on him, though it remains to be seen if he’ll ever commit to baseball. LHP Luis Gonzalez (11), who also showed potential as an outfielder in high school, has a heavy fastball that already reaches 90-91 mph.

The One Who Got Away: SS Michael Hollimon (32), who’s now at the University of Texas, might have been a first-round pick if not for his $2 million asking price. Some clubs thought Clint Sammons (43), who’s athletic and has a strong arm, was one of the best catchers available. He’s attending the University of Georgia.

Assessment: The Dodgers lost their first-round pick for signing free agent Andy Ashby and saw their top choice, RHP Brian Pilkington (2), require arthroscopic shoulder surgery before working his first pro inning. Their first six selections were high school pitchers, always a risky commodity but also the strength of the 2001 draft.

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