Second Round Pick Josh Wall Doing Fine

In early June, Josh Wall found himself in a win-win situation that we all have wished ourselves to be subject to. There was that scholarship awaiting him at Louisiana State University, a fine school with excellent facilities and rabid fans. Then came the amateur draft and he had only to wait until the second round to hear that he'd been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the very team that he's a big time fan of.

Wall's love of LSU is perfectly understandable -- it's located in Baton Rouge, a city of which Wall's hometown of Walker is a suburb. And his regard for the Dodgers was certainly enhanced by the fact that his brother, Lance Caraccioli, was drafted by L.A. in 1998 and was in their minor league system through July 2002 when he was traded to Cleveland for Jolbert Cabrera. If you're wondering about the name disparity, they are technicality half-brothers but as they share the same mother, they grew up in the same household and are very much siblings in every way but name.

Lance's experiences in the organization were positive, something he, of course, passed on to Josh. So, while, it had been thought that he might be a hard one to sign with the negotiations to be protracted, Josh's feelings were, "I've always wanted to be a pro player. LSU was hard to pass up but the Dodgers are my team so I wanted to get it done. "

Which is exactly what agent Brian Murphy accomplished, landing a contract in the neighborhood of $800,000 which sealed the deal. So, Josh now finds himself at Dodgertown, not unfamiliar territory for the family often came here during spring training while Lance was in the system.

In the early spring, it had been predicted that Josh, a righthander, would be a first-rounder for his fast ball had reached 95. However, as the year went along, it dipped to 86-88 and his curve didn't have the same bite. That may have caused other teams to back off but the Dodgers saw the very projectable player that has been the hallmark of their drafts ever since Logan White became the man in charge.

For at age 18, he has 190 pounds spread over a 6-6 frame so it's easy to see where he can pack on some more weight and muscle which should translate into more getty-up on his fast ball. Not that he fared badly his senior year at Walker Central Private High, a small school. There he was 14-1, had an 0.93 ERA, striking out 138 batters while walking only 26 in 80 innings. That gained him second-team All-American honors from Baseball America. Oh, yeah, he also played shortstop despite his size and swung a mean bat, banging 19 homers.

It's that arm, though, that will help him make his way to The Show. So, how's he doing? In this case, most of the numbers you'll see are misleading for he's only 1-3, 4.15 but they don't tell the story. For opponents are only managing a .213 average against him in his Gulf Coast outings and a number of those are hits are what he calls, "bloops and bleeders."

Why, he threw five innings the other day in which he yielded only one hit -- and lost! He tends to be philosophical about that, saying, "Some day, I'll give up 15 and win."

The numbers that do concern him are the fact that he's managed only four strikeouts thus far while walking seven. "George (pitching coach George Culver) is working with me on that. He says i/t's because I'm trying too hard," a fact that leads to overthrowing.

So far, pro ball has been about what Josh has expected. He's had his family in town for support --including Lance, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery across Florida in Sarasota. He's throwing his fast ball in the 91-93 range plus an effective curve and a change-up he developed in high school (although the coach wouldn't let him throw it there on the solid ground that he was doing batters a favor.)

Culver is a master of smoothing out kinks which is why Josh is here. Chances are he'll develop into another solid member of the contingent of bright young mound hopefuls the Dodgers have gathered. His goal, he declares, "is to be in the big leagues by the time I'm 21." He would seem to have the ability and the aptitude to do just that which would make his ultimate decision to put college on hold while he turned pro a wise one.