June 2011

It’s Draft Day

Right around the first pitch of tonight’s game against the Phillies, the draft room on the eighth floor at Dodger Stadium will start buzzing as the Dodgers gear up to make their first selection, the 16th overall choice this year. You can watch it live on MLB Network or follow the unparallelled coverage at mlb.com, as Maury Wills and Dodger scout Rich De Lucia represent the team at the draft in New York.

Last year, the Dodgers were the surprise of the first round, snagging Zach Lee with a pick late in the day though he was considered “unsignable.” With a bonus of more than $5 million, he joined the ranks of Dodger prospects which includes the last eight years worth of first-round pitchers (James Loney in 2002 was our last position player taken in the first round).

A day like today (and the next few days) are the culmination of an insane amount of work by all of our scouts who traverse the country looking for the next great Dodger player. It could be a first-rounder like Clayton Kershaw or a sixth-rounder like Matt Kemp…or even later in the draft, as many success stories come from then, too. But these scouts are truly the backbone of the game of baseball and rarely get the credit they are due.

So tune in tonight and give a shout out to the Dodger scouts and administrators who have made it their life’s work to find the next player you’ll root for at Dodger Stadium.

Video game-esque numbers

What was your favorite baseball video game growing up? Stratomatic (pre Atari)? Earl Weaver Baseball? RBI on Nintendo? The more recent versions of MLB-licensed games for X-Box or Playstation?

For me, it was Baseball Stars on Nintendo, where you could build your own team and rack up sick stats. And that’s what Shawn Tolleson is doing these days in the minors. Tolleson’s prep teammate, Clayton Kershaw takes the mound today against the Reds while another of his teammates, Jordan Walden, is the Angels’ closer. In fact, Kershaw might have been the third-best pitcher on their high school travel team and Tolleson is showing why these days.

After Tommy John surgery shelved him in high school and sent him to college at Baylor rather than the minors, the Dodgers drafted and signed him last year. In his first pro season, he had a 0.63 ERA and 17 saves so he popped up on a lot of radars. But what he’s doing this year is, well, the exact same thing. In 21 games for three different minor league teams, he has an identical 0.63 ERA with 13 saves and has struck out 52 batters in 28.2 innings. That’s a career so far of 47 games, 30 saves, 57.1 IP, 28 hits and 91 strikeouts. Those numbers belong in a video game, not the minor leagues.

This winter, Tolleson and Kershaw were groomsmen in each other’s wedding and Dodgers Magazine had a cool feature on them back in Spring Training. You can download it here: p58-62_Kershaw_Tolleson

Local Baseball at Dodger Stadium

Later today at Dodger Stadium, Bishop Amat will play Palm Desert, followed by Riverside North vs. Anaheim Esperanza in the CIF championship games.

Then tomorrow at 2 p.m., it’s my alma mater, Chatsworth High, against San Fernando in the City Section championship game.

If you’re thirsting for some good local baseball, stop by and check out these games.

And while we’re on the subect of local baseball, you might not have heard yet of Cory Hahn but if you haven’t, you need to hear his story.  Cory, who went to Mater Dei and was a standout there, was injured during a game this February in his freshman season at Arizona State University. He is undergoing constant treatment and physical therapy, spending several hours every day in his quest to get better. Unfortunately, that kind of treatment is very expensive and the costs are mounting.

Mater Dei High School has established a fund to accept donations to help the Hahn family with the costs of treatment. All donation amounts go to Hahn’s medical expenses. You can click this link to make a donation.

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