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Dodgers Draft Report

By Chris Cocoles
June 4, 2002

LOS ANGELES--Several of the Dodgers' recent top draft picks have been disappointments, so maybe a combination of pitcher and position player will be a good investment this time.

That's what first-year scouting director Logan White hoped he received with Texas high school lefthander/first baseman James Loney, who was the 19th overall selection.

Loney's draft stock rose mainly from his performance on the mound at Elkins High in Missouri City, Texas. He went 9-1, 1.80 and struck out 106 in 54 innings as a senior. But when Dodgers vice president Tom Lasorda announced Loney as the club's first-round pick, he referred to him as a first baseman.

With dominant pitching numbers like his, not keeping Loney as a pitcher would appear to be loony. But his offensive statistics are just as eye-popping. He hit .509-8-56 in 106 at-bats with a .934 slugging percentage. The Dodgers will have to decide which direction they want Loney to take.

"He's too good a hitter and too good a fielder to go back to the mound," White told Tuesday. "He's along the lines of a (Ryan) Klesko or a (John) Olerud. Those players were pitchers at one time. This guy strikes me as a winner, a line-drive hitter whose power will come. He's a good-looking fielder and he has a chance to be an excellent big-league player."

Loney, who committed to Baylor, wasn't projected as a first-rounder, so his selection might be considered a reach by some.

But the Dodgers have nothing to lose given their recent history of disastrous first-round flameouts like David Yocum and Glenn Davis. Still with the organization but never fulfilling potential include Bubba Crosby and Jason Repko. There is hope with 2000 No. 1 pick Ben Diggins.

High school players dominated the Dodgers' 2001 draft (first seven picks) and this year's, too. They took the prep route with their first five selections, getting promising lefthander Greg Miller from their backyard (Esperanza High of Yorba Linda, Cal.) with the first choice (No. 31 overall) in the supplemental round.

Then came two righthanders, Zach Hammes from Iowa City HS and Jonathan Broxton of Burke County HS in Waynesboro, Ga.

The club's first college player picked, Santa Barbara (Calif.) CC second baseman Delwyn Young, could be a sleeper. He is a power hitter who previously played at Riverside (Calif.) CC and signed with Cal State Fullerton.

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