Los Angeles Dodgers: Top 10 Prospects

Los Angeles Dodgers

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

1.Andy LaRoche, 3b
2.Clayton Kershaw, lhp
3.Scott Elbert, lhp
4.James Loney, 1b/of
5.Etanislao Abreu, 2b
6.Ivan DeJesus Jr., ss
7.Jonathan Meloan, rhp
8.Blake DeWitt, 2b/3b
9.Josh Bell, 3b
10.Preston Mattingly, ss
Best Hitter for AverageJames Loney
Best Power HitterAndy LaRoche
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineCory Dunlap
Fastest BaserunnerTrayvon Robinson
Best AthletePreston Mattingly
Best FastballClayton Kershaw
Best CurveballScott Elbert
Best SliderJonathan Meloan
Best ChangeupCarlos Alvarez
Best ControlClayton Kershaw
Best Defensive CatcherGabriel Gutierrez
Best Defensive InfielderIvan DeJesus Jr.
Best Infield ArmAndy LaRoche
Best Defensive OutfielderJamie Hoffman
Best Outfield ArmXavier Paul
CatcherRuss Martin
First BaseJames Loney
Second BaseEtanislao Abreu
Third BaseAndy LaRoche
ShortstopRafael Furcal
Left FieldAndre Ethier
Center FieldJuan Pierre
Right FieldMatt Kemp
No. 1 StarterChad Billingsley
No. 2 StarterJason Schmidt
No. 3 StarterClayton Kershaw
No. 4 StarterScott Elbert
No. 5 StarterBrad Penny
CloserJonathan Broxton
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Paul Konerko, 3bWhite Sox
1998Paul Konerko, 1bWhite Sox
1999Angel Pena, cTabasco (Mexican)
2000Chin-Feng Chen, ofLa New Bear (Taiwan)
2001Ben Diggins, rhpWindy City (Frontier)
2002Ricardo Rodriguez, rhpCardinals
2003James Loney, 1bDodgers
2004Edwin Jackson, rhpDevil Rays
2005Joel Guzman, ss/ofDevil Rays
2006Chad Billingsley, rhpDodgers
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Glenn Davis, 1bOut of baseball
1998Bubba Crosby, ofYankees
1999Jason Repko, ss/ofDodgers
2000Ben Diggins, rhpWindy City (Frontier)
2001Brian Pilkington, rhp (2nd round)Out of baseball
2002James Loney, 1bDodgers
2003Chad Billingsley, rhpDodgers
2004Scott Elbert, lhpDodgers
2005*Luke Hochevar, rhpRoyals
2006Clayton Kershaw, lhpDodgers
* Did not sign
Clayton Kershaw, 2006$2,300,000
Joel Guzman, 2001$2,250,000
Ben Diggins, 2001$2,200,000
Hideo Nomo, 1995$2,000,000
Scott Elbert, 2004$1,575,000
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Los Angeles Dodgers

The Mets may have swept the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, but Los Angeles shouldn't be singing the blues. The previous year, the franchise suffered through its second-worst showing since moving from Brooklyn in 1958 and the faces on the roster were as random as those at a cabstand. Fans' groans grew louder than traffic on the 5 when owner Frank McCourt fired Paul DePodesta and replaced him with Ned Colletti—who had been an assistant GM with the archrival Giants—the club's third general manager in four years.

They weren't groaning after 2006, as most of Colletti's moves worked. He signed veterans, spun trades, promoted rookies and saw the Dodgers move from mediocrity to prosperity. In winning Baseball America's Organization of the Year award, Los Angeles found its way back to the playoffs as a wild card and has the foundation to contend for years to come.

The Dodgers brought several youngsters into the mix last season. Russell Martin seized the catching job earlier than expected and shined both offensively and defensively. Andre Ethier, acquired from the Athletics for volatile outfielder Milton Bradley before the season, carried the club for a stretch at midseason with clutch hitting and power few predicted. Matt Kemp scorched the ball at the outset of a brief big league stint. When James Loney wasn't leading the minors in hitting at Triple-A Las Vegas, he was filling in admirably for the injured Nomar Garciaparra and reasserted himself as a frontline prospect.

On the mound, Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton assumed important roles and showed why they're projected as Los Angeles' No. 1 starter and closer of the future. Enigmatic Hong-Chih Kuo resurfaced as the force the Dodgers expected when they acquired when they signed him in 1999. Takashi Saito, a 36-year-old former Japanese big leaguer in his first year in the United States, took over as closer when Eric Gagne got hurt again and amassed 24 saves.

In addition to reinforcements, the farm system also provided lots of trade fodder. Six players among last year's Dodgers top 30 prospects were sent packing, allowing the club to acquire such players as Marlon Anderson, Danys Baez, Wilson Betemit, Mark Hendrickson and Julio Lugo.

The Dodgers graduated or traded nine of their top 17 prospects from a year ago, so the system naturally lost some depth. But it's far from barren. Andy LaRoche and Loney are close to taking over the club's corner-infield jobs, while 2006 first-round pick Clayton Kershaw and 2004 first-rounder Scott Elbert are two of the best lefty pitching prospects in the game.

All four of those players were taken in the five drafts Logan White ran as scouting director. He was promoted to assistant GM for scouting in the offseason, with Tim Hallgren ascending from national crosschecker to replace White. DeJon Watson, formerly a Reds scouting director and most recently an Indians major league scout, takes over as farm director from Terry Collins, who left to manage Japan's Orix Buffaloes.

The Dodgers also made significant changes to their farm system during the reaffiliation process. They moved their high Class A affiliate from Vero Beach (Florida State) to Inland Empire (California), severing a 27-season relationship and signaling a future spring training move out of Dodgertown, and switched their low Class A affiliate from Columbus (South Atlantic) to Great Lakes (Midwest).