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, 2009.

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1. Dee Gordon, ss
2. Chris Withrow, rhp
3. Aaron Miller, lhp
4. Ethan Martin, rhp
5. Josh Lindblom, rhp
6. Scott Elbert, lhp
7. Andrew Lambo, of
8. Ivan DeJesus Jr., ss
9. Trayvon Robinson, of
10. Allen Webster, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Dee Gordon
Best Power Hitter Kyle Russell
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jamie Hoffman
Fastest Baserunner Dee Gordon
Best Athlete Dee Gordon
Best Fastball Kenley Jansen
Best Curveball Ethan Martin
Best Slider Josh Lindblom
Best Changeup Scott Elbert
Best Control Tim Sexton
Best Defensive Catcher A.J. Ellis
Best Defensive Infielder Dee Gordon
Best Infield Arm Pedro Baez
Best Defensive Outfielder Scott Van Slyke
Best Outfield Arm Xavier Paul
Catcher Russell Martin
First Base James Loney
Second Base Ivan DeJesus Jr.
Third Base Blake Dewitt
Shortstop Dee Gordon
Left Field Andrew Lambo
Center Field Matt Kemp
Right Field Andre Ethier
No. 1 Starter Clayton Kershaw
No. 2 Starter Chad Billingsley
No. 3 Starter Chris Withrow
No. 4 Starter Aaron Miller
No. 5 Starter Ethan Martin
Closer Jonathan Broxton
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Chin-Feng Chen, of La New (Taiwan)
2001 Ben Diggins, rhp Out of baseball
2002 Ricardo Rodriguez, rhp Saltillo (Mexico)
2003 James Loney, 1b Dodgers
2004 Edwin Jackson, rhp Tigers
2005 Joel Guzman, of/ss Nationals
2006 Chad Billingsley, rhp Dodgers
2007 Andy LaRoche, 3b Pirates
2008 Clayton Kershaw, lhp Dodgers
2009 Andrew Lambo, of Dodgers
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Ben Diggins, rhp Out of baseball
2001 Brian Pilkington, rhp (2nd) Out of baseball
2002 James Loney, 1b Dodgers
2003 Chad Billingsley, rhp Dodgers
2004 Scott Elbert, lhp Dodgers
2005 *Luke Hochevar, rhp Royals
2006 Clayton Kershaw, lhp Dodgers
2007 Chris Withrow, rhp Dodgers
2008 Ethan Martin, rhp Dodgers
2009 Aaron Miller, lhp
(1st round supplemental)
* Did Not Sign
Hiroki Kuroda, 2007 $7,300,000
Clayton Kershaw, 2006 $2,300,000
Joel Guzman, 2001 $2,255,000
Ben Diggins, 2000 $2,200,000
Hideo Nomo, 1995 $2,000,000
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Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers' back-to-back National League West titles in 2008 and 2009 were in many ways a tribute to their scouting and player-development departments, even if the spotlight always seemed to shine on the antics of Manny Ramirez and the sage wisdom of manager Joe Torre.

Key players such as Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, James Loney, Russell Martin and James McDonald were drafted and developed by Los Angeles. Ten of the 25 players on the NL Championship Series roster were homegrown, while Ronnie Belliard, Casey Blake, Jon Garland, Ramirez, George Sherrill and Jim Thome all were acquired in trades for prospects.

It's a tribute to the work of assistant general manager for scouting Logan White and assistant GM for player development DeJon Watson that the Dodgers were able to win consecutive division crowns for the first time since 1977-78. The downside to graduating and trading so many prospects is that it has left Los Angeles thin in the upper levels of its farm system.

In order to avoid picking up the salaries of their midseason trade acquisitions the last two years, the Dodgers were willing to sacrifice more in the way of talent. They traded catcher Carlos Santana and righthander Jonathan Meloan to the Indians for Blake; third baseman Andy LaRoche and righty Bryan Morris to the Pirates in the three-way deal for Ramirez; and third baseman Josh Bell and righty Steven Johnson to the Orioles for Sherrill.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, they don't need a lot of help from their farm system right now because they have a core group of big leaguers who are just entering their primes. The Dodgers have never made three consecutive playoff appearances, much less won three straight division titles, but they are poised to contend for a third straight NL West championship and make another run at their first World Series appearance since 1988.

The biggest question surrounding them is how divorce proceedings between owners Frank and Jamie McCourt will play out and affect the franchise financially. Los Angeles had a 2009 Opening Day payroll of $100 million, the highest figure in its division and the ninth-highest in baseball.

The Dodgers don't have cheaper players ready to step in if the divorce leads to budget slashing. The only potential rookies who could make much of an impact in Los Angeles in 2010 are lefty Scott Elbert and righty Josh Lindblom. They could try young big leaguers Blake DeWitt and McDonald at second base and in the rotation if in-house options are needed.

However, they're starting to replenish the lower levels of the system with athletic position players and live-armed pitchers from recent drafts, led by shortstop Dee Gordon, righthanders Chris Withrow and Ethan Martin, and lefty Aaron Miller. Los Angeles rarely exceeds the bonus recommendations from the commissioner's office—its total of $8.5 million spent on bonuses in 2008-09 ranks last in MLB—yet has a knack for finding talent in the later rounds. The two best position players in the system, Gordon and outfielder Andrew Lambo, were fourth-round picks. Two of the better power arms, righthanders Allen Webster and Nathan Eovaldi, were 18th- and 11th-round choices in 2008.

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