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Dodgers Draft Report Card

By Jim Callis

Best Pro Debut: RHP Heath Totten (5) was the best pitcher on a short-season Yakima club that won the Northwest League title. Armed with a 90-91 mph fastball and a very good slider, Totten went 8-2, 2.30 with 67 strikeouts in 74 innings.

Best Athlete: RHP Ben Diggins (1) is an agile, 6-foot-8 athlete reminiscent of Dave Winfield. Diggins was a supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals out of high school in 1998–as a hitter. He complements one of the draft’s best fastballs with a slider that will be a plus pitch.

Best Hitter: C/3B Koyie Hill (4) should hit for average with gap power. An outstanding defensive third baseman at Wichita Sate, Hill is being moved behind the plate by the Dodgers.

Best Raw Power: Diggins, though he won’t pick up a bat until he reaches Double-A and faces a National League affiliate. Of the hitters, 1B Derek Michaelis (15), who played baseball and basketball at Rice, uses his 6-foot-7 frame to get tremendous loft on the ball–when he makes contact.

Fastest Runner: OF Travis Ezi (12) can fly, with a 6.3-second time in the 60-yard dash. He’ll be a terror if he can learn to hit. He already has taken up switch-hitting.

Best Defensive Player: C Jared Price (7) has a strong body and a slightly above-average arm.

Best Fastball: Diggins pitches at 96 mph and was clocked as hard as 98 mph at Arizona.

Most Intriguing Background: 3B Brooks Bollinger (50) is the quarterback at Wisconsin, which doesn’t have a baseball team. He had interest in signing while continuing to play football before Badgers coaches discouraged the idea. The Dodgers petitioned the commissioner’s office to allow Bollinger to be treated as a draft-and-follow, but were turned down.

Closest To The Majors: After holding out for a $2.2 million bonus, Diggins will make his pro debut at low Class A Wilmington in 2001. Totten and LHP Greg Withelder (6) also could move quickly.

Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Jonathan Lorenzen (14) topped out at 88 mph in high school but was up to 92-93 mph in instructional league.

The One Who Got Away: RHP Humberto Sanchez (9) reminds the Dodgers of Roberto Hernandez, and they’ll try to sign him as a draft-and-follow after a season at Rockland (N.Y.) CC. They no longer control the rights to RHP Ryan Sadowski (29), who has a low-90s fastball. He’s at Florida.

Assessment: After targeting high school athletes in 1999, the Dodgers earmarked pitchers in 2000. RHPs Joel Hanrahan (2) and Jeff Tibbs (3) have live arms to go along with Diggins’. They signed just two hitters from the first 11 rounds, and landed just one position player (1B Nicholas Alvarez, 26) who batted better than .259 in his pro debut.

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