June 2006

Draft Day Drama – Mark Langill

The main area of the Dodgers’ "war room" was empty 90 minutes prior to Major League Baseball’s annual First-Year Player Draft. Huddled behind closed doors on the eighth floor at Dodger Stadium this morning were scouting director Logan White and his staff, armed with cell phones for down-to-the-wire strategy sessions.

Baseball America magazine predicted the Dodgers would choose pitcher Texas high school pitcher Clayton Kershaw with the No. 7 overall pick. But it’s nearly impossible to predict the exact order of selections, as other teams use different methods of evaluation, such as need by position and signability.

After the first six picks, Kershaw was still on the board and White selected Kershaw, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-hander. With the No. 26 pick, the Dodgers selected Tennessee community college pitcher Bryan Morris.

Fans will have an opportunity to see the final list of team-by-team selections on MLB.com. But the real drama is watching the emotions felt by White and the other scouts as other teams make their respective selections. Despite tracking and identifying blue-chip prospects during the year, there’s a feeling of helplessness and worry when waiting for the team ahead of you to make their selection. And your supposed "sleeper" prospect might be rated higher on another team’s list.

As White and his scouts sit around a conference table, there is a gallery area for other executives to watch, including Dodger Chairman Frank McCourt. The amateur prospects’ names, placed on individual tags on a magnetic board in various categories, are removed by scout Artie Harris as the draft progresses for the 50 rounds. Every scout also has a laptop computer, along with other printouts and information.

Draft Day is Here

The draft is finally upon us. More than 65 people have entered the online contest for baseline seats to a future Dodger game. There’s only about an hour left before you can get your picks in, so do it ASAP. Any picks posted after 10:00 a.m. PT won’t count.

I haven’t looked through the entries, but I’m going to cap the winners at three just in case you all picked the same three guys. That means, the first three people who listed our guys correctly will get the seats. If no one picks all three right, which is very possible, we’ll go to the one(s) who picked two out of three. If a ton of people get two out of three right, the higher up your correct picks, the better. So for example, if you picked #7 and #26 right and someone else got #7 and #31 right, the first person would win. Make sense? I hope so, because this isn’t an exact science as you can tell.

It’s great to see so many people getting interested in the draft. If you want to talk about our picks tomorrow with Amateur Scouting Director Logan White, you can do that in tomorrow’s live chat at 3 p.m. PT. You’ll excuse him, I hope, if he’s tired. He told me yesterday that it’s a ritual that he not sleep the night before the draft, so he’s been up since yesterday morning.

Enjoy the draft!

Today's Game

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Garciaparra, 1B

Drew, RF

Aybar, 3B

Ethier, LF

Martinez, 2B

Martin, C

Tomko, P

Names to know…

Votefornomar

A couple names you should know, if you don’t already, are Delwyn Young, an infielder/outfielder for Triple-A Las Vegas who went 3-for-5 last night to raise his average to .301 on the season. He also logged his 18th double of the year.

Also in that game, Chad Billingsley, one of our top pitching prospects, pitched six innings and allowed three hits and one run to earn his fifth win for the 51s. He lowered his ERA to 3.97, which is very good in the Pacific Coast League, but he also walked six batters.

Another name you already know is Nomar Garciaparra, who should be creeping up the leaderboard for voting in the online All-Star balloting at first base. After coming in at fifth in the early returns last week, we’re hoping he’ll move up with the injury to Albert Pujols. He has a very good shot to get up to second place and start the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.

Updated at 2:52 pm PT with today’s NL leaderboard at first base:

1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals            1,041,466
2. Carlos Delgado, Mets                  304,287
3. Lance Berkman, Astros               228,465
4. Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers    203,239
5. Ryan Howard, Phillies                 187,202

Some of you remember the big push for Cesar Izturis last year, who was very deserving of the nod at shortstop. Dodger fans did an incredible job of taking him from sixth place to first in a very short amount of time and now we have an equally deserving player who just isn’t getting his due. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that he was injured early on, but he’s come back and been one of the top offensive players in the Majors since returning.

We’re the second-largest city in the country, with fans all around the world and yet somehow, it seems that other teams do a better job of voting for their home team’s players. We can change that. Fans can vote up to 25 times at MLB.com and it’s up to you guys, the die-hards, to help get that word out.

Maybe you all have a different theory on why we’re always trailing in the voting, but I’m hoping that it won’t be the case forever.

Today's lineup

Here’s today’s lineup. Just a routine day off for Furcal and Nomar to keep them fresh. And in case you missed it yesterday, we announced that Hong-Chih Kuo was recalled and Hamulack sent back to Vegas.

Lofton, CF

Martinez, SS

Kemp, LF

Drew, RF

Saenz, 1B

Aybar, 2B

Guzman, 3B

Martin, C (Great article on Russ in today’s L.A. Times)

Sele, P

SUPER SUB – Ramon Martinez has filled in nicely around the diamond for the Dodgers, as Los Angeles is 7-2 in his nine starts this season. His .352 average is fifth best among all National Leaguers with 50 or more plate appearances behind Moises Alou (.378), Jeff Cirillo (.375), Nomar Garciaparra (.369) and Miguel Cabrera (.355). Martinez is also hitting .455 (10-for-22) in day games this season.

SOME LIKE IT HOT – Olmedo Saenz has enjoyed tremendous success during day games through the first two months of this season, as he’s batting .394 (13-for-33) with four homers and 16 RBI under the sun. Willy Aybar (.310), Nomar Garciaparra (.417) and Kenny Lofton (.364) have also played their best baseball in natural daylight.

Last chance is tomorrow to put in your picks for the first three draft choices in Tuesday’s draft. The person who’s closest gets four baseline seats to an upcoming Dodger game.

Transaction

Prior to tomorrow’s game, we will recall Hong-Chih Kuo and option Tim Hamulack back to Las Vegas.

And, only two days left to submit your guesses for the first three picks of the draft. The person that’s closest will win four baseline seats to an upcoming Dodger game.

Today's game

Here’s what we’ve got for today. Don’t forget, with both us and the Angels as the Game of the Week, we’ll be on Channel 13 today, not 11.

Furcal, SS

Cruz, LF

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Kemp, CF

Aybar, 2B

Guzman, 3B

Martin, C

Penny, P

Today's lineup

Guzman gets his first ML start and he’s in the cleanup spot.

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Guzman, 3B

Aybar, 2B

Ethier, LF

Cruz, RF

Alomar, C

Seo, P

Kenny Lofton Clinic

I just returned from a great morning clinic at MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton. Kenny Lofton hosted the event, showing youngsters how to run, hit, steal bases, field and pretty much all the fundamentals of the game. The event was hosted by Canon, so there was also a clinic by our team photographer, Jon SooHoo, who taught the kids how to take pictures (hint: it’s more than just point and shoot, if you want good shots…who knew?).

Canon is also the sponsor of Sunday’s photo day, where fans get to come down to the field and take photos of the players from 11:15 – 12 p.m., so be sure to get your tickets for the game against the Phillies.

Kenny spoke to the kids for a while about the importance of having a backup plan, since they won’t all be professional athletes. He pointed out that he got a college degree (University of Arizona) and that he’s got plans for after his playing career to continue to grow his post-production company. He’s already involved in it pretty heavily and if you want to read more, check out the first edition of Dodgers Magazine.

There was also tons of media at the event – just about every TV station in Los Angeles, but no newspaper reporters were on hand (at least that I saw). I know some of you asked for an update about that.

And, there’s still time to put in your picks for Tuesday’s draft for a chance to win four baseline seats to an upcoming Dodger game.

Just when you think you've seen it all

We actually got booed just now as the game was ending, despite a 7-2 win. The crowd wanted to see Eric Gagne and poor Tim Hamulack took the brunt of the fans’ excitement. He got booed when he warmed up, then again when he left the bullpen and when he got the last out of the game.

Our intern Ryan just told me the only time he’s ever seen anything like it was at a Golden State Warriors game when fans got a free chalupa if the team scored 100 points. But with a big lead, they ran out the clock the last two times down the court rather than break the triple-digit barrier.

A strange night, but we’ll take another win. Seven straight at home.

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