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The son of former major league all-star Dave and the brother of Braves first baseman Adam, Andy could be the best big leaguer in the family. He graduated early from high school and attended Grayson County (Texas) CC in what would have been the spring of his senior year in 2002. The Padres took him in the 21st round that June as a draft and follow, but made little effort to sign him the following spring. By that point LaRoche had committed to Rice and several clubs viewed him as unsignable. The Dodgers took a 39th-round flier on him in the 2003 draft, and after he raked in the Cape Cod League that summer, they signed him for $1 million. LaRoche established himself as one of the top position players in the minors by slugging 30 homers in 2005, and he fortified that reputation with another strong campaign in 2006. He hit a career-high .315 with 19 homers (including one on the first pitch he saw in Triple-A) despite a torn labrum in his left shoulder that required surgery following the season. He also hurt his right shoulder, but played through both injuries. Few players can cause a stir in batting practice like LaRoche can. He sometimes will take BP with a 36-ounce bat, which has helped him build remarkable strength in his hands and wrists. He has tremendous power and a ferocious approach, attacking pitches with a quick, leveraged swing. He can drive balls out to all parts of the park, but is at his best when he's hammering them from gap to gap. He lets the ball travel deep in the hitting zone. He's an intelligent hitter who made strides in 2006 with his plate discipline and willingness to work counts without sacrificing any power. For the first time as a pro, he drew more walks than strikeouts. Defensively, he has good hands and a solid-average arm. He's a reliable third baseman who committed just five errors in 54 games at Las Vegas. LaRoche can fall into bad habits at the plate, at times losing balance, lengthening his swing and chasing pitches out of the zone when he tries to muscle up. He's geared to pull for power, and his average could suffer unless he tones down his swing. He has below-average range and speed. He always has had a big league mentality and his brashness rubs some the wrong way. The Dodgers are quick to praise him for his grit and determination, and they don't consider his makeup to be a detriment. LaRoche profiles as an everyday third baseman and an occasional all-star with a .275-.285 average and 25-30 homer potential. He should be fully recovered by the start of spring training, where he'll compete with Wilson Betemit to start at third base in Los Angeles. If he doesn't win the job, LaRoche likely will play regularly in Triple-A instead of sitting on the big league bench to open the year.
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.
Elbert grew up less than 10 miles from where assistant GM Logan White went to grade school. He was an all-Missouri tailback as a high school junior, amassing 2,449 yards and 36 touchdowns before giving up football. The first prep lefty drafted in 2004, he signed for $1.575 million and reached Double-A last year at age 21. The fiercest competitor in the system, Elbert attacks both sides of the plate with his 90-92 mph fastball, which has late life and can reach 96. His two-plane curveball has hard, sharp break. He's merciless against lefthanders, who hit just .156 off him in 2006. He's athletic and durable. Elbert doesn't consistently repeat his delivery and overthrows, which leads to below-average command. He'll power through his curveball, which causes it to flatten out. He hasn't needed his circle changeup much, and it lags behind his other two offerings. Dodgers manager Grady Little could be tempted to add him to the big league bullpen in 2007, but Elbert has the stuff to develop into a workhorse No. 2 or 3 starter. He'll probably head back to Double-A to start the season.
Loney was a two-way star on the Elkins High (Missouri City, Texas) team that won the 2002 national championship. When Nomar Gaciaparra began 2006 on the disabled list, Loney made his major league debut, singling off John Smoltz for his first hit. He also had a nine-RBI game at Colorado in September and went 3-for-4 in his lone postseason start. In between, he led the minors in hitting. Loney has an advanced feel for hitting and makes consistent hard contact. He has above-average bat speed and uses his hands well, allowing the barrel to remain in the hitting zone for an extended period. He uses all fields and exhibits plate discipline. He's a well above-average first baseman with supple hands and a plus arm, and he saw some time in the outfield in 2006. He's a hard worker with strong makeup. Loney's 12 home runs in 2006 were a career high, and there's a wide range of opinion regarding his long-term power production. His swing path is fairly flat, and he could be more of a high-average doubles hitter in the mold of Mark Grace. He's a below-average runner. Los Angeles re-signed Garciaparra and he'll receive most of the playing time at first base. Loney should make the Dodgers as a backup and could see spot duty in right field in an effort to get his bat into the lineup.
Though often overshadowed in Los Angeles' deep system--he was accidentally left out of the team's 2006 media guide--Abreu quietly has established himself as one of its top position players. He won the 2005 high class A Florida State League batting title with a .327 average. Abreu is an aggressive, instinctual player with four plus tools. He has aboveaverage bat speed and lashes line drives to all fields from both sides of the plate. He stays inside the ball well, has outstanding plate coverage, can turn around inside fastballs and maintains his balance through his swing. While he makes consistent contact, Abreu isn't selective and doesn't work deep counts. He could drive the ball better if he gets stronger, but projects to be more of a doubles hitter rather than a home run threat. A switch-hitter, he has more pop from the right side but uses the whole field better from the left. He's an above-average runner with plus range. He has soft hands and enough arm to handle shortstop. He could better utilize his speed on the basepaths. He's streaky and the Dodgers would like to see more consistency in his game. Abreu profiles as an everyday second baseman who can hit .280-.290 with 8-12 homers while playing quality defense. He should spend most of 2007 in Triple-A.
DeJesus' father Ivan Sr. originally signed with Los Angeles and spent 15 years in the majors. A switch-hitter as an amateur, DeJesus batted solely righthanded last year. DeJesus has a rare blend of tools and instincts. His defense is ahead of his bat now, but he's patient, works counts and allows balls to travel deep in the hitting zone. He has good bat-head awareness and slaps the ball to all fields. DeJesus has pure shortstop actions with supple hands and plus range. He has an average arm with efficient exchanges. He's a slightly above-average runner. He lacks strength and DeJesus' power is well below-average. In 2006, he batted .228 away from hitter-friendly Golden Park in low Class A Columbus. As he grows into his wiry frame, DeJesus could improve his punch at the plate. He profiles as an everyday, defense-first big leaguer. He'll spend 2007 in high Class A.
Assistant GM Logan White first saw Meloan when he was a high school senior in 2002 and went up against Loney. Meloan's stuff wasn't overly impressive, but the fact he was pitching with a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee left an impression. Meloan signed for $155,000 after going 27-2 in his final two years at Arizona. He works primarily off a 92-94 mph fastball and mid-80s slider, which has been up to 88. He also has feel for a curveball and changeup, which are passable pitches. He has above-average fastball command and locates his secondary stuff well. Meloan has a ripped physique that lacks looseness. His max-effort delivery features some recoil, a huge red flag. Because of his mechanics and his heavy college workload, the Dodgers wisely limited his innings in 2006. He had elbow soreness during spring training, though an MRI in the offseason found nothing to cause alarm. After impressing scouts in the Arizona Fall League, Meloan could arrive quickly in Los Angeles as a setup man. His health and durability ultimately will determine his value. He'll likely open 2007 in Triple-A.
DeWitt's draft stock improved during his senior season and he was considered the best pure hitter in a lackluster 2004 high school draft class. He has been solid but not spectacular in three years in the minors. He moved from third base to second at high Class A Vero Beach last year, then back to the hot corner when promoted to Double-A. His tools aren't overwhelming, but DeWitt has good feel for the game. He has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball and he uses his hands well at the plate. His swing is short and fluid, and his bat stays in the hitting zone for a long time. He has a solid-average arm and quick release. DeWitt gets pull-happy and tends to drift during his swing, failing to keep his weight back. While he has enough bat speed to drive balls out of the park, he doesn't project to hit more than 12-18 homers annually in the big leagues. He's better suited for third base, so how much power he develops becomes vital to his value. He lacks the actions and range to stick in the middle infield and he's not a fluid fielder. He's a below-average runner. DeWitt's mature approach to hitting and excellent makeup should carry him to the majors. He should spend most of this year at Double-A.
Bell entered his senior season as one of the top position players in the high school draft class of 2005. But his approach and setup vacillated from at-bat to at-bat, he struggled mightily and slipped to the fourth round, where he signed for $212,000. He has hit .312 in two pro seasons and ranked among the Rookie-level Pioneer League's top power hitters in 2006. Bell's raw power ranks as at least a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has tremendous leverage in his quick, powerful stroke from both sides of the plate. His hands and footwork are adequate at third base, where he shows a plus arm. He has strong makeup. His approach and all-around game are unrefined. Like Andy LaRoche, Bell tends to swing from his heels, sacrificing his balance. He can beaten on the inner half, especially when batting righthanded. His pitch recognition and plate discipline have a ways to go. He's doesn't have quick-twitch muscle movements, and he could improve his footwork defensively. Many of his 17 errors came on overthrows. He's a below-average runner. Bell profiles as an everyday third baseman with a .250-.260 average and 25-30 home runs annually. He'll probably begin 2007 in low Class A.
Despite being a three-sport star and the son of former American League MVP and batting champ Don Mattingly, Preston somehow stayed off the radar of most area scouts in 2006. The Dodgers liked him all along, and made him a surprise supplemental first-round pick. After signing for $1 million, he acquitted himself well in the Gulf Coast League. An all- Indiana wide receiver in football and a 20-point-a-game scorer in basketball, Mattingly stands out for his athleticism, bat speed and raw power. Balls jump off his bat and he has power to all fields. He has a good feel for hitting and a sound approach. He's an above-average runner. He has good makeup. Mattingly is very raw. He needs to improve his pitch recognition, use the whole field and avoid chasing breaking balls. He lacks the actions and footwork to remain in the middle of the diamond, and he ultimately could wind up in left field. His throwing mechanics are poor and he has belowaverage arm strength. The Dodgers believe Mattingly will develop into a middle-of-the-order run producer. There are no immediate plans to change his position this year, which he'll probably spend in extended spring training and Rookie-level Ogden.
The Dodgers have a history of success scouting the Pacific Rim and locked in on Hu as a teenager. Hu went 5-for-12 for Taiwan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and was assigned to Double-A after two strong seasons in Class A. Hu's value lies in his glove, and he struggled to make consistent hard contact in 2006. He has a high front-leg kick to trigger his swing and tends to drift away from the plate. Fastballs in on his hands give him trouble, as he's geared to spray line drives up the middle and to the opposite field. He hits the top half of the ball well and has good pitch recognition. His 49 walks were almost twice as many as he had drawn in any previous season, and he made strides in his ability to command the strike zone. He has below-average power, though he can drive balls to both alleys when he gets his arms extended. He's a slightly above-average runner and has outstanding range and instincts at shortstop. He led Southern League shortstops with a .981 fielding percentage. Balls disappear in his glove and his hands are supple. He has a solid-average arm and makes clean, quick exchanges. He's quicker to his left than he is making plays to his backhand. Hu could develop into an everyday shortstop in the big leagues on a club that can supplement his lack of offense. He could repeat Double-A in 2007.
After Tampa Bay drafted Morris in the third round in 2005 out of Tullahoma (Tenn.) High, the two sides agreed to a $1.4 million bonus that former Devil Rays ownership failed to follow through on. Morris hedged on signing as well, mostly because his father Ricky wanted him to play at Motlow State (Tenn.) CC, where Ricky is an assistant coach. Morris dominated the juco circuit, went back into the draft, and signed for $1.325 million as the 26th overall choice in 2006. He's got huge stuff and a funky delivery. Following a fantastic debut in the Pioneer League, where he rated as the No. 1 prospect, Morris had Tommy John surgery and was expected to miss all of the 2007 season. The gangly righthander has a stiff front side and throws across his body. His arm is loose and quick, and he's a good athlete, but the torque created by his delivery might have led to his elbow injury. Erratic command was also a byproduct of his mechanics, but if his mid-90s fastball and hammer curveball come back, he has impact potential. Morris pitches at 93-94 mph and bumped 96 in Ogden. His downer breaking ball has excellent depth and grades as a plus pitch. He'll flash a rudimentary changeup and a fringy slider. If all goes well in rehabilitation, Morris might return to the mound in time for instructional league.
The Braves failed to sign Young as a 19th-round draft-and-follow prior to the 2002 draft, and his stock soared after an impressive predraft workout at Dodger Stadium. He's quietly been one of the minors' most consistent offensive threats, climbing to Triple-A in 2006 and setting career highs in RBIs and doubles, marking his fourth consecutive season with at least 36 doubles. He led Dodgers minor leaguers in extra-base hits. Young's bat speed is among the best in the system. He's an aggressive hitter who looks to pull the ball early in the count and rarely gets cheated at the plate. He has the strength and bat control to pepper line drives to all parts of the park. He has solid-average power. His plate discipline and willingness to walk aren't pluses. His swing gets long, and has more holes from the right side, as he batted .198 against lefthanders in Triple-A last year. He's a below-average runner with below-average range and a plus arm suited for right field. His tools compare favorably to Matt Stairs', and Young will likely hit his way into a lineup as an everyday corner outfielder eventually. But he doesn't appear to be in the Dodgers' immediate outfield plans. Unless he's traded, he'll probably return to Triple-A in 2007.
Orenduff bolstered his draft stock in the summer of 2003 when he helped USA Baseball's college national team win a silver medal at the Pan American Games. He pitched alongside Cla Meredith (Padres) and Sean Marshall (Cubs) at Virginia Commonwealth after transferring from George Washington following his freshman year in 2002. Orenduff logged well over 300 innings in his college career, including summer ball, and has shown signs of wear since signing with the Dodgers for $1 million. He opened 2006 in Double-A before his balky shoulder forced him to shut it down in May. He had surgery in August. Orenduff operates with a heavy, 88-92 mph fastball and a hard, 81-83 mph slider. His slider rates as a plus for both its quality and its command. He uses it too often, but it was a big reason righthanders batted .164 against him last year, compared to .297 for lefthanders. He also features a fringy changeup. Orenduff could find himself in a middle relief or set-up role when he gets back on the mound. His ceiling is as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He's expected to return to the mound by spring training, but he might not be ready for a full-season assignment on Opening Day.
Following three straight years in low Class A with a combined ERA of 5.00, Hammes figured things out last year. He moved to the bullpen in 2005, and now that he pitches exclusively from the stretch, his delivery is simpler and more balanced than it was from the windup. He was added to the 40-man roster following the season. Hammes was clocked at 93 mph during his senior season in high school, but he was pitching around 88 before he cleaned up his delivery. He was up to 97 in Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he collected five saves as North Shore's closer. He sits at 92-94. His slider comes in at 81-84 with three-quarter tilt. It breaks out of his hand, but his 6-foot-6 frame and three-quarters arm slot give it enough angle and depth to grade as an above-average offering. His changeup is a legitimate third pitch that he uses effectively against lefthanders. Hammes' command is below average. He works deep counts and tends to miss up in the zone. He doesn't have exceptional feel for pitching. He should spend most of 2007 in Double-A.
When the Dodgers needed a pitcher to fill in at Double-A in May, they called up Johnson from extended spring training. Though he was just 18, he handled himself with poise and maturity. After two scoreless relief appearances, he went back to extended spring training before reporting to Rookie-level Ogden. Johnson, whose father Dave pitched for the Pirates, Orioles and Tigers from 1987-93, led the Pioneer League with 86 strikeouts. He relies on feel and command and has a knack for setting up hitters. His delivery is clean and efficient. His fastball comes in at 90-91 mph, and he can add and subtract from it, as well as cut it. Johnson's slider and curveball last summer have potential to be above-average offerings, based more on his ability to spot them rather than their shape. His changeup is below-average. His frame doesn't lend considerable room for growth. He's a candidate to climb to high Class A in 2007. He has a ceiling as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Miller missed all of 2004 and the first half of 2005 with a shoulder injury that required two surgeries. He was used conservatively in 2006, opening the year in Double-A before spending most of it at Triple-A. He's not the same dominant pitcher and lacks consistency, but shows flashes of the velocity and stuff that made him the minors' best lefthanded pitching prospect before his injury. He doesn't repeat his arm slot, and seems to search for a release point that minimizes discomfort in his shoulder. As a result, his control suffers and he's erratic with all of his pitches. His fastball sits at 91-92 mph, touching 95 with nasty life and tail. His hard slider comes in between 80-86 mph with late, sharp break. He also throws a cutter, curveball and changeup, but worked with a two-pitch mix in his role as Vegas' setup man. He rarely worked more than two innings, and Miller's durability remains a concern. The Dodgers could opt to return him to the rotation to test his stamina and give him more innings to work on his control. Miller's future lies in his health.
Leach began his college career at Southern Mississippi, but he broke down and had Tommy John surgery in 2003. He transferred to nearby Delta State, where he was used primarily at the back of the bullpen. He suffers from hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating in the palms--which is decidedly inconvenient for a pitcher. His condition improved by having mild electrical shocks applied to his hands. He led the Pioneer League in ERA in 2005 and began 2006 in the low Class A rotation. Once he moved to high Class A, he went back to the bullpen, where he best profiles. Leach has a physical frame and two strong pitches in an 89-91 mph fastball that can touch 93 and a plus breaking ball at 78-81. He delivers his breaking ball from the same slot as his fastball and it has hard, late break. It's his greatest asset and is a legitimate strikeout pitch against lefties. He has some feel for a changeup. Leach has below-average command and his delivery isn't pretty. His arm slot is slightly lower than it was in college, which has aided his effectiveness against lefties. He also has an outstanding pickoff move and led the minors with 22 pickoffs last year. As a situational lefty or middle reliever, Leach could move quickly, and might begin 2007 in Double-A.
While Dunlap continues to show an innate ability to hit, poor conditioning continues to hold him back. He ballooned to 300 pounds in high school in Alameda, Calif., where he played with Dontrelle Willis, but lost approximately 70 pounds and led all California junior college players with a .512 average in 2004. Former Dodgers farm director Terry Collins seemed to connect with Dunlap in his effort to promote better conditioning, but otherwise Dunlap hasn't shown enough drive to stay in shape. He came to camp well over his listed weight of 230 pounds last year and repeated high Class A. Dunlap has tremendous bat-head awareness and an advanced approach at the plate. He controls the strike zone, works counts and uses the entire field. He led the organization with a .435 on-base percentage. He shows plus raw power when he gets extended and finishes his swing. Dunlap can be beaten with fastballs in on his hands. He hit just .145 against lefties in 2006. He has adequate hands and instincts at first base. His range is well below-average, as is his speed. Dunlap will most likely spend most of 2007 at Double-A.
The Dodgers drafted a pair of first-rounders from the state of Missouri in 2004--Scott Elbert and Blake DeWitt--and chose Alexander, a fifth-year senior from Mizzou, in the 20th round the same year. He blew out his elbow as a senior at Rockhurst (Mo.) High, had Tommy John surgery and pitched sparingly in college until his senior season. He was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2006 and had a span of 23 appearances (26 innings) without allowing an earned run, a stretch that began in Double-A and continued in Triple-A. He works off a two-pitch mix and relies heavily on his 74-78 mph slider. It has short, sharp break, he has good feel for it and he'll throw it in any count and in any situation. He spots his 88-91 mph fastball to both corners, but it lacks significant life or movement. Alexander is meticulous in his preparation and takes detailed notes on opposing hitters. His stuff doesn't profile in the back of a big league bullpen, but he could break into the majors as a middle reliever. He will likely return to Triple-A to begin 2007.
Greg Miller, Megrew and Eric Stults were three projectable lefthanders the Dodgers nabbed in the 2002 draft, and while only Stults has made it to the majors, all three remain prospects. Megrew's ascent was interrupted when recurring arm trouble eventually required Tommy John surgery following the 2004 season. The Marlins took a shot at Megrew in the 2005 major league Rule 5 draft based on his performance in instructional league that fall, then stashed him on the disabled list last March. But when his arm trouble persisted, they returned him to the Dodgers in April. Megrew made it back to the mound in June and eventually rejoined the Vero Beach rotation. His fastball typically sat between 87-89 mph, touching 91. He showed feel for two potentially plus secondary offerings in a circle changeup and a high-70s slider. His changeup has occasional plus sink and fade, and rivals lefty Carlos Alvarez' among the best in the system. Megrew's command has a long way to go, but his feel for pitching and control were assets before he had surgery, and he showed signs of both during instructional league. He was added to the 40-man roster after the season, and he will go to Double-A if he performs well during spring training in 2007.
Dominican scout Pablo Peguero made a name for himself by signing Joel Guzman, and when he wound up in hot water for inking at least one Latin player before he was 16. Tony Abreu, lefty Miguel Sanfler and Troncoso were a few treats Peguero left L.A. before he was hired by the Giants. Troncoso spent three seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before jumping to low Class A in 2005. He began 2006 at high Class A but was sent back to low A six weeks later and made good progress. He didn't allow an earned run in his final 13 innings of the season--six of which came in high Class A--and was lights-out during instructional league as well. He features a 91-95 mph fastball with sink and occasional bore. His secondary stuff is raw, though he added a changeup during instructional league that he showed feel for. He uses a change/splitter hybrid grip, and the pitch showed occasional plus action. His slider is hard and lacks depth. He has good control but below-average command. Troncoso's present package profiles in a middle-relief role, but he has good composure and if his secondary stuff comes around he could develop into a closer. He'll have a chance to climb to Double-A in 2007.
Dodgers scouting chief Logan White encourages his scouts to target potential conversion candidates during evaluation, and Santana and third baseman Lucas May both spent time behind the plate during instructional league last fall. Santana showed passable catch-andthrows skills in his audition at catcher, and his bat also could make him an interesting prospect. Despite having just 78 minor league at-bats under his belt, he went to high Class A in May and hit safely in nine of his first 10 games and held his own all season. He then reported to Rookie-level Ogden, where he spent most of the summer manning right field to make room for Josh Bell at third base. He's athletic but his baseball acumen is limited. He uses his hands well at the plate and has above-average bat speed and good plate coverage. He maintains his balance better from the right side. His swing has some length. His lateral quickness, hands and instincts are pluses. He showed a solid-average arm behind the plate. He's a fringe-average runner. Santana could spend 2007 at Los Angeles' new low Class A Great Lakes affiliate.
At the outset of the season, it was uncertain whether White had much of a future in the organization. His flippant attitude toward his development was his most significant impediment, but he took his career more seriously in 2006 and turned a corner. He played on the same American Legion team in Texas as 2006 first-rounder Drew Stubbs. He was a talented hitter, and also played basketball in high school, indicators of his athletic ability. He was one of Ogden's most reliable relievers and followed the season up with an outstanding showing during instructional league. White has an aggressive approach and attacks both sides of the plate with a three-pitch mix. He works off an 88-92 mph fastball that has occasional plus sink. His curveball has good action down and away from lefthanders, and he has feel for a changeup, which fades from righties. Lefties hit .103 against him last year, and his calling could be out of the bullpen as a situational reliever. He will report to high Class A in 2007 to build on his success of last season.
With a powerful lefthanded swing and a projectable 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame, Orr was considered the best draft-eligible player in Canada in 2006. He helped Canada's junior national team win a bronze medal in 2005 and 2006 in international competition, playing both ways as a hitter and pitcher. Orr originally sought a bonus near $500,000, sticking to his commitment to Kentucky as leverage, before finally settling on a $435,000 in October. His biggest tool is raw power and balls jump off his bat. His swing has looseness and life, but he's long-limbed and his swing also has length and lots of holes. His pitch recognition and plate discipline are unrefined. His power potential, athleticism and above-average arm strength profile in right field, but he has plenty of work to do on the nuances of defense. First base might be his eventual destination. He's a below-average runner, though he's better under way. The Dodgers' player-development staff will have some work to do to mold Orr, but the raw material is there. He will open the season in extended spring training before reporting to a short-season team in June.
Because of his size and commitment to Tulane, most teams passed on Paul during the draft, but area scout Clarence Johns (now with the Rockies) had a good rapport with Paul and his family and signed him for $270,000. He ranked among the system's top prospects following a strong debut but sustained success for the first time since then in his second season at high Class A. Paul is a plus runner with athleticism and bat speed. He's constantly tinkering with his approach at the plate and doesn't trust his hands. He can lash line drives to both alleys with average power, especially to the pull side. While his 133 strikeouts in 2006 were the most in the organization--and his career--he hit the ball with more authority. His front side often flies open, causing him to pull off the ball and making him vulnerable to pitches on the outer half. Paul has played all three outfield positions, but his best position is right. He made significant improvement last season defensively and has developed into an average defender with a plus, accurate arm. He needs to improve his technique playing balls hit in front of him. Paul must improve his overall consistency and ultimately could become a reliable outfielder with speed and pop. He'll climb to Double-A in 2007.
Hoorelbeke is the son of Peter Rivera, the original lead singer, drummer and founder of the band Rare Earth. His brother Jesse is an outfielder in the Cubs system. Casey made a name for himself as a talented pitcher and basketball player at Coeur d' Alene (Idaho) High and transferred to Lewis-Clark State after pitching at North Idaho Junior College. After his first pro season in 2004, he moved to the bullpen where his low three-quarters arm slot and fringy three-pitch repertoire play best. He has a big, durable frame and an aggressive approach to pitching. He dominated at times in 2006 at Double-A before a viral infection slowed him in August, when he allowed 10 earned runs in seven appearances. His 88-90 mph sinker has average life and movement. His 10-to-4 slider is a fringe-average offering, as is his changeup. When he keeps the ball down in the zone he induces lots of ground balls. He has solid-average command and value as a middle reliever down the road. He was not placed on the 40-man roster and was Rule 5 eligible in 2006, but he wasn't taken in the draft and should spend most of 2007 in Triple-A.
Sanfler began 2006 in low Class A and got off to an inauspicious start, which proved to be the beginning of a forgettable first full season. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits in his first appearance and things never got much better. He joined Ogden when its season opened in June and showed the stuff that makes him a prospect as a lefty reliever. With a compact, muscular frame reminiscent of a defensive back, Sanfler features outstanding arm strength and an aggressive approach. He can hit 97 mph, pitches at 92-93 and flashes a power slider with hard tilt, as well as a promising splitter. His fastball has late life from a three-quarters arm slot. He's a thrower, but his arm works. He has little feel for pitching. His athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery and is a major reason the Dodgers believe he has a chance to become a valuable piece to add to their bullpen. He speaks little English and needs to improve his communication skills. He'll have another shot in low Class A this season.
Wall skyrocketed up the draft board in January 2005 when he flashed 95 mph heat at a Perfect Game showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. He joined Bryan Morris--a 2006 Dodgers draftee--as a second-team High School All-American with a 138-26 strikeout-walk ratio that spring, and signed with the Dodgers for $480,000. A half-brother of former Dodgers farmhand Lance Caraccioli, Wall may have been held back by his family's interest in his career in 2006. His father, who bird-dogs for Dodgers scout Dennis Moeller in Louisiana, spent most of the summer following his son around the Pioneer League and Josh at times lacked focus. Some scouts speculated that his dad's constant critiquing became counterproductive. His stuff backed up significantly and he pitched tentatively. His fastball was usually flat at 88 mph. His curveball, which showed promise and hard, downer action as an amateur, sat between 72-75 mph and lacked the depth it once showed. He gets around the ball, losing plane and command. If he cleans up his delivery and improves his mental approach, he has the frame and tools to develop into a middle-of-the-rotation starter. His performance in spring training will determine his assignment, but low Class A seems the likely destination.
Despite Wright's smallish frame and modest fastball velocity, former Dodgers area scout Clarence Johns (now with the Rockies) liked his aggressive attitude and feel for pitching and persuaded scouting director Logan White to take him in the seventh round in 2003. Wright passed up a scholarship from South Alabama and signed for $120,000. He had four stretches of at least 17 consecutive scoreless innings in 2006 between high A and Double-A. With a fastball described as "sneaky-fast"by minor league pitching coordinator Marty Reed, Wright has racked up impressive strikeout totals since signing, most of which come off his 88-91 mph heater that has late life. He has a slight wrist wrap in the back of his arm motion that doesn't hinder his control and gives his delivery some deception. Wright and Vero Beach pitching coach Glenn Dishman tweaked the grip on his spike curveball during his stint in Hawaii Winter Baseball, and the pitch has above-average break, with tight, 12-to-6 rotation. It's more consistent than his slider, which is little more than a chase pitch. He has rudimentary feel for his changeup. He can pitch to both sides of the plate and has average command. Wright climbed to Double-A as a 21-year-old late in 2006, and should spend most of 2007 there.