For all the Dodgers’ scouting excellence in recent years, they had not done much in their own backyard.
Entering the 2020 draft, the Dodgers had not drafted a player from talent-rich southern California in the top three rounds since 2012.
When the Dodgers saw Huntington Beach (Calif.) High outfielder Jake Vogel still available in the third round this year, however, they decided to end that drought.
The Dodgers drafted Vogel in the third round, No. 100 overall, on Thursday night. It is the highest the Dodgers have selected a player from southern California since they took lefty Onelki Garcia in the third round in 2012. Even that was an unusual case. Garcia was a Cuban defector who was pitching in a local men’s league while living in Los Angeles.
For the Dodgers, Vogel’s blistering speed and top-flight athleticism were what made them return to their home region this early in the draft.
“This is like running back, sprinter speed,” Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino said. “Strong, explosive, powerful strides. He can really get after it. If it’s not the top (speed in our system), it’s the top two or three.”
Vogel played in front of scouts for years at Huntington Beach, one of the top prep programs in the nation. His athleticism long stood out, but it was only when he began to hit this spring that he became an option in the top three rounds.
Once he began making more contact, the Dodgers took particular notice as an organization that specializes in hitter development.
“Our player development is chomping at the bit to get ahold of him,” Gasparino said, “because they think the athlete, the hand-eye coordination, his ability to move his body so fast, it’s going to take off with some instruction.”
A no-doubt center fielder with his speed and advanced instincts, the only question is whether Vogel will continue to hit. If he does, and the Dodgers are confident he will, he’ll set a strong precedent for the Dodgers to keep mining their home region for talent at the top of the draft.
“He’s just a really physically gifted kid that…came out this fall and this spring and performed really well,” Gasparino said. “He kind of really shot up our board.”