- Full name Clayton Edward Kershaw
- Born 03/19/1988 in Dallas, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Highland Park
- Debut 05/25/2008
Drafted in the 1st round (7th overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006 (signed for $2,300,000).
View Draft ReportThe draft's best high school prospect, Kershaw projected as only a second- or third-round pick before blossoming as a senior. He had gotten exposure as a member of the USA Baseball national junior team and had a solid fastball for a lefthander at 88-92 mph. Now he has grown into his strong, athletic 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, and his stuff has taken a leap. He has pitched at 90-96 mph all spring while continuing to pound the bottom of the strike zone. His curveball has improved even more than his fastball and now ranks a legitimate second plus pitch. He also has done a better job of repeating his delivery, giving him more control and command. Kershaw has dominated every time out, striking out 18 in Highland Park's district opener and breaking the school's career record for victories by earning No. 32 in his next outing. The only blip came when he strained an oblique muscle in his regular-season finale, knocking him out of the first round of the playoffs. The injury won't affect his draft status-he could go as high as No. 6 overall to the Tigers-and he was expected to return to action in the second round of the playoffs.
Organization Prospect Rankings
As an underclassman in high school, Kershaw had the benefit of pitching on high-profile travel teams, but teammates Shawn Tolleson (now at Baylor) and Jordan Walden (Angels) got most of the attention. Kershaw pitched just four innings out of the U.S. junior team's bullpen at the 2005 Pan American Championships in Mexico, buried at the time behind harder throwers such as Tolleson, Brett Anderson (Athletics) and Josh Thrailkill (Clemson). But it was Kershaw who blossomed into the best high school prospect in the 2006 draft after he gained velocity on his fastball and tightened his curveball. The Tigers were set to take him with the sixth overall pick before Andrew Miller unexpectedly fell in their laps, allowing Kershaw to drop one more spot to the Dodgers. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2006 and in the low Class A Midwest League in 2007. He also pitched in the Futures Game and jumped to Double-A Jacksonville a month later in just his first full pro season. Kershaw pitches off a fastball that rests comfortably at 93-94 mph. He touched 99 a handful of times last summer, including once with Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti in the stands (the Great Lakes scoreboard posted a reading of 101 on the pitch). Kershaw's heater has late, riding life with explosive finish at the plate. His 71-77 mph curveball has hard 1-to-7 tilt from his high-three-quarters arm slot. He made strides with his circle changeup during the year, and it too grades as a third plus future offering. He generates his stuff with a loose, clean arm action. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he has an ideal pitcher's frame that exudes durability as well as athleticism. He eventually should pitch with above-average command, though he didn't show it in 2007. Kershaw is a little slow to the plate, but is cognizant of baserunners. He employs a slide-step effectively and has a good pickoff move. His makeup and competitiveness are off the charts, and he's lauded for his humility off the field. After Kershaw posted a 54-5 strikeout-walk mark in his pro debut, he failed to maintain his focus and delivery during 2007, which led to erratic command. He's working on improving the timing of his shoulder tilt. He tends to load his left shoulder late, causing his arm to drag during his follow-through, a correctable flaw. It makes him misfire up in the strike zone, and when he overcompensates, he begins to bury his pitches in the dirt. Because of the exceptional life on his fastball and the fact it gained velocity in 2007, learning to harness it will be an important step. His focus also wavers at times. The shape of his breaking ball is somewhat inconsistent, and he'll need to continue to work on sharpening his secondary pitches. Kershaw offers a promising combination of front-of-the-rotation stuff and the work ethic to reach his ceiling as an ace. Some in the organization say his stuff is more advanced than Chad Billingsley's and Jonathan Broxton's at the same stage of their development. Now he has to apply the polish. He'll most likely open what could be his last season in the minors in Double-A.
Kershaw established himself as the best high school prospect in the 2006 draft when he improved his stuff and dominated Texas high school competition last spring. When Andrew Miller fell to the Tigers at No. 6, Kershaw got to the Dodgers at No. 7. He signed for $2.3 million and ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Gulf Coast League in his debut. Kershaw's stuff and body have plenty of projection, and his fastball is already well above-average. He paints both corners with 93-94 mph heat, topping out at 96. His curveball is a plus pitch with 71-77 mph velocity and 1-to-7 tilt. He has feel for a circle changeup that could become a third above-average pitch. He fills the strike zone with all three of his pitches. He has a durable frame and repeats his delivery. Laid-back and affable off the field, he's hard-nosed and tough-minded on it. Much more advanced than most young pitchers, Kershaw just needs to get more consistent with his pitches. His curve improved exponentially between his junior and senior seasons in high school, but it still gets loopy and hangs in the zone at times. Because of his impeccable fastball command, Kershaw should have no problem with older hitters, and he could begin 2007 at the club's new high Class A Inland Empire affiliate. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff, command and makeup.
Minor League Top Prospects
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Kershaw's combination of plus pitches and advanced feel for pitching propelled him to the big leagues as a 20-year-old. Even in the SL, he was the league's youngest starting pitcher. Kershaw's fastball sits in the low to mid-90s and explodes out of his hand. He has a knockout mid-70s curveball, a nasty big-breaker with two-plane depth and late action that grades out as a second 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale. His curve is so good that even when he didn't snap off a good one, hitters often would chase it out of the zone or find themselves unable to check their swings. His mid-80s changeup is a solid pitch with plus potential. The Dodgers had Kershaw focus on developing his change and throwing his curveball for strikes more often in the minors. His fastball command still needs fine-tuning, but he projects to have plus command in the big leagues thanks to clean arm action and a mechanically solid delivery that he repeats. His high three-quarters arm slot gives his pitches a good angle down in the zone. He also generates rave reviews for his poise, maturity and work ethic.
The Dodgers handled Kershaw carefully in 2006 after drafting him seventh overall, then took the gloves off this year. After he blew away MWL hitters, they jumped him to Double-A and he had little trouble against much older hitters. Of course, it's easy to succeed with two legitimate swing-and-miss pitches. Kershaw had the best fastball in the league, a 93-95 mph buzzsaw, as well as one of the best curveballs. No minor league lefty can match his power stuff. His changeup could give him a third plus pitch, though he had little need for it until he got to Double-A. He has a clean delivery and mound presence well beyond his years, and he just needs to refine his command to complete the package. "He was by far the highest-ceiling minor league arm I saw all year. The second-best was Clay Buchholz," a National League scout said. "Kershaw could end up winning Cy Young Awards. Not many young guys do what he does."
Kershaw established himself as the best high school prospect in the 2006 draft when he improved his fastball and curveball and dominated Texas high school competition this spring. The Dodgers signed him for $2.3 million and let him spend his summer in the GCL. He maintained his stuff throughout the season, regularly showing a fastball that sat between 90-94 mph and touched 96, as well as a plus curveball. His changeup is solid average and has the makings of a dependable third offering. He has a loose arm and repeats his delivery, helping him command his pitches remarkably well for an 18-year-old. "He has a good sense of how to pitch and he competes well," Dodgers manager Juan Bustabad said. "He goes right after the hitters and as soon as he got his first start, he was overpowering. He's going to move up fast."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Pitcher in the National League in 2014
- Rated Best Pitcher in the National League in 2013
- Rated Best Curveball in the National League in 2012
- Rated Best Pitcher in the National League in 2012
- Rated Best Curveball in the National League in 2011
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Southern League in 2008
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the Southern League in 2008
- Rated Best Fastball in the Southern League in 2008
- Rated Best Fastball in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Midwest League in 2007
- Rated Best Fastball in the Midwest League in 2007
- Rated Best Control in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007
- Rated Best Fastball in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007
- United States activated LHP Clayton Kershaw.