Dodgers Organization Report

Paul's Push

LOS ANGELES—When DeJon Watson took over the Dodgers player development department a year ago, one of the first things he was told was that Xavier Paul wasn't a center fielder. But once he got a look at Paul, who was generously listed at 6-foot, 200-pounds, Watson wasn't buying it.

"He is an above-average runner with a plus, plus arm," Watson said. "Being under 6 feet tall and trying to play a corner, I don't know how many of those guys there are out there. So we really spent a lot of time with him in center field in the early camp (last) spring, and then he played the entire season there (at Double-A Jacksonville) and played exceptionally well. His routes and his jumps are much better now, but he still has some work to do."

Paul, who will turn 23 just before spring training, was added to the 40-man roster this winter, a clear sign the Dodgers consider him a legitimate prospect who probably projects as a fourth outfielder in the majors. He hit .291/.366/.429 for the Suns last year, with 11 homers and 50 RBIs and probably will begin this season at Triple-A Las Vegas.

The club's fourth-round draft pick in 2003 out of a Louisiana high school, Paul has perennially been rated as having the best outfield arm in the Dodgers system. Offensively, he still needs to cut down on his strikeouts after posting 112 in 422 at-bats. He is a line-drive, gap hitter with occasional pop who is capable of hitting for a high average despite the strikeouts.

  •  Mike Easler, who had been slated to return for a second season as hitting coach at Las Vegas, instead was promoted to major league hitting coach after Don Mattingly unexpectedly changed his mind about accepting the job because of a family matter. Mattingly will move into a special-assignment coaching role that will allow him to be based out of his home in Evansville, Ind. Watson hopes to find a hitting coach for Las Vegas before spring training and said the position will be filled from outside the organization.
  •  Lefthander Scott Elbert, one of the organization's top pitching prospects and its first-round pick in 2004, has fought through a handful of minor setbacks in his rehabilitation from the shoulder surgery he had after just three starts at Jacksonville last season. He has an outside chance of being ready for spring training, but club officials won't panic if he isn't ready until sometime after opening day.