A Look at Dodger Minor League Shortstops

There's very much a veteran presence among the shortstops at the top levels of the Dodger system with some very promising prospects below that.

LAS VEGAS- Antonio Perez, obtained in a spring trade with Tampa Bay, has been the regular although he's also been seen at second some since Joe Thurston went up. He was a regular there for the Devil Rays last season until a steady diet of breaking pitches away forced him to the bench. Even though he's in his eighth season, he's still only 24, hits well enough and is adept in the field so could factor in the future. There's also 30-year-old Jose Flores, who came from the A's in a straight cash deal in the spring. He's a decent hitter who can play several positions. Although 27-year-old Eric Riggs hit .280 as a regular here last year, he's very much in the background at present.

JACKSONVILLE--Nelson Castro is reliable in the field and occasionally stings the ball but he's been around since 1994 without ever playing in a single big league game. Still only 27, he was picked up as a free agent in the middle of 2003 after being let go by the Giants.

VERO BEACH- Here Joel Guzman holds forth for the second year with the hope that his production level begins to measure up to his considerable physical skills. There are those that feel that at 6-5, 200, he's growing out of the position but the Dodgers have yet to even experiment with him at any other spot. He has undeniable power and possesses an excellent arm but frequently fails to use his lower body enough either at the plate or in the infield. Still, he always comes with the mantra that "he's only 19" so the hope is he matures into a potent force.

COLUMBUS--Chen-lung Hu is absolutely a wizard with the glove and though he's only 5-9, 150, drives the ball surprisingly well. As a result this 20-year-old from Taiwan in his second year is rising steadily in the estimation of all who see him play

There's also a pair of intriguing possibilities currently playing in the extended spring camp who'll be assigned to rookie teams. Lucas May, who hit 252 in the Gulf Coast League in 2003, should develop power and has smoothed out considerably in the field. Juan Rivera is a Dominican signed last July who'll debut this season. He just turned 17 in March but handles the glove in the manner of one far older. The question is his offense since he's a slight, 6-0, 150 so must hit down on the ball and run at this stage.