Dodgers Winter Program Starting

The Dodgers' fourth annual Winter Development Program, which helps prepare minor league players for the Major Leagues both on and off the field, kicks off this weekend and will include workouts, community visits, informational seminars and visits to different areas of Los Angeles.

Sixteen of the Dodgers' top minor league prospects will be in town for the week-long event and workouts will focus on fundamentals, strength training and conditioning.  

Dodger Manager Don Mattingly will help instruct the camp, as will members of the Dodgers' Major League staff and many minor league instructors. Third Base Coach Tim Wallach, First Base Coach Davey Lopes, Hitting Coach Jeff Pentland and Hitting Instructor Dave Hansen are all scheduled to attend as are Special Assistants, Baseball Operations and Player Development Bill Mueller, Aaron Sele, Mark Sweeney and Jose Vizcaino.  

Prospects attending include the Dodgers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year Rubby De La Rosa and Minor League Player of the Year Jerry Sands. Other position players attending will include Pedro Baez, Gorman Erickson, Dee Gordon, Los Angeles native Trayvon Robinson, Kyle Russell, Justin Sellers and Matt Wallach. Pitchers Stephen Ames, Nathan Eovaldi, Javy Guerra, Ethan Martin, Aaron Miller, Luis Vasquez and Chris Withrow will also be in attendance.

The minicamp is designed to take the best and brightest of the farm system, accelerate their Major League arrival and aid acclimation to what they will encounter when they get there.

Among earlier participants are Clayton Kershaw and Blake DeWitt, who made impacts on the Major League club almost immediately. Assistant general manager De Jon Watson's minicamp also allows club officials to get a line on each player's conditioning prior to Spring Training and to tweak flaws in a pitcher's delivery or a hitter's swing before the start of the real camp, where the player is focused on making a club.

"This is not a rehab camp," Watson said. "This is a chance to take these 16 young men and give them a chance to work in a large park and get with our staff for one-on-one instruction. A lot of the guys who have come through the program have had an impact on our Major League club."

They receive coaching on baseball skills, but also get classroom instruction in aspects of Major League Baseball that should be essential but often are overlooked, from media relations to security issues to interaction with fans and the importance of community outreach.   

Throughout the week, these Dodger prospects will also visit Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, L.A. Live, Staples Center for an L.A. Kings game and a meeting with NHL Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille and Galen Center for the USC vs. UCLA basketball game.  

They will also meet with Dodger legends including Tommy Lasorda and Don Newcombe and learn from Dodger staffers about topics including media relations, diet and Major League travel. Prominent Los Angeles sports figures who have spoken to the program in the past include John Wooden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Joe Torre and Phil Jackson.   

Since the Winter Development Program's inception in 2008, 23 participating players have reached the Major Leagues. 2010 program participants included John Ely, Kenley Jansen, Jon Link and Carlos Monasterios. Clayton Kershaw, Ramon Troncoso, A.J. Ellis, Scott Elbert, Xavier Paul and Travis Schlichting are among other past participants.  

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