First Quarter Report

Memorial Day is regarded as the quarter-pole in professional baseball. Time to take a look at how the top-rated prospects in the Dodger system are doing.

#1- Chad Billingsley, rhp., Jacksonville. Began the season well but hasn't fared that way lately. His last start was a win but he still gave up five runs (three earned.) Result -- 4-3, 4.86. That he has his stuff is indicated by 59 strikeouts in 55 innings. Batters are hitting .264 against him.

#2- Joel Guzman inf., Jacksonville. Doing all that is expected especially in the power department with 11 home runs and 13 doubles. He's batting .287. Is playing more and more at third base. A mid-season rise to Las Vegas would be in keeping with his career.

#3- Edwin Jackson , rhp., Las Vegas. The numbers aren't impressive -- 5-4, 6.59 with batters hitting .297 against him. However, while he's had some horrid games, he's thrown well, at times, too. He seems much better away from hitter heaven Cashman Field.

#4- James Loney, 1b., Jacksonville. The hits weren't falling in at the beginning; lately, they have been. He's pushed his numbers up to .250-5-21 while encouraging hopes that the best has yet to begin.

#5- Greg Miller, lhp. Disabled list. Has been throwing two-inning stints in the extended camp with generally encouraging results. His velocity is off from his peak (91-92) and his command has been understandably wobbly at moments but his surgically-repaired shoulder feels find and he seems about ready to return to competitive action. Say, in about a week or so.

#6- Delwyn Young, 2b, Jacksonville. D.Y. is hitting just about the way he usually does .279-5-21 so he's right on schedule.

#7- Jonathan Broxton, rhp, Jacksonville. Began well, had some problems, then came back strongly in last start. He's 2-2, 3.72 with 50 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. Opponents are only batting .225 against him. In his first try at AA is coming along very nicely.

#8- Andy LaRoche, 3b, Vero Beach. No one has made more of an impression in all the minors than he has --19 home runs, 42 RBI, .343 while generally playing a solid third base. He's due for a rise to AA most any time now.

#9- Chuck Tiffany, lhp., Vero Beach. Began in excellent fashion with four straight wins but hasn't been the same since. Was forced out of action because an operation to remove a mole on his lower back. The surgery cut into some muscles there and he hasn't been as effective since returning. Not bad, just not what he was before. He was 4-4 3.12 after Sunday's loss with 51K's in 40 innings. Opposing batters are hitting only .220 against him.

#10- Blake DeWitt, 3b, Columbus. Had a slump that brought him down but has come on quite well. Is back up to .258-4-29.

#11- Scott Elbert, lhp, Columbus. He strained an abdominal muscle so put in time on the D.L. Now back and throwing very well. Finally got enough support for his first win, Is 1-2 , 2.17 with 37 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. Batters only hitting .191 against him.

#12- Russell Martin, c. Jacksonville. Although his power production is off (only two home runs),he's more consistent at the plate (.296) and is demonstrating why he's considered a prime catching prospect with a superior arm.

There's also some fast risers who are gathering more attention, as well. Willie Aybar is batting .322-2-26 for Las Vegas while playing solidly at both second and third. Matt Kemp, who sprained a wrist in spring training, has come to show his burgeoning power with 10 home runs at Vero Beach. He also is playing an excellent center field. His Vero teammate, righthander Justin Orenduff is 3-2, 2.13 with 56 strikeouts in 42.1 innings. Opponents can manage only a .162 average against him.

There's also a couple who were so impressive in the spring that they made the big team. Although they're back with Las Vegas now, both showed more than enough promise for the near future. Outfielder Jason Repko came back to hit .400 with two homers in his first two games since joining the 51's. Righthanded reliever Steve Schmoll was roughed up in some early appearances but has done much better lately that his 0-1, 9.95 mark would indicate.

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