Dodger Prospects Aren't All In Jacksonville

In a way Blake DeWitt reminds one of Matt Kemp. No, I'm not talking about physical appearance. Kemp is a 6-4, 210-pound African-American. DeWitt is 5-11, 175 and white. No, they hardly resemble each other in that area. But in development, they do in many ways.

Kemp spent his second year as a pro with Columbus in 2004. He wasn't among the league leaders in most areas nor rated as one of the more likely prospects by most for he hit .288 with 17 home runs, 22 doubles and 66 runs batted in. DeWitt is now in his second professional season, also with Columbus. He's hitting .280 with 30 doubles, 12 homers and 63 RBI with just about two weeks left to go.

The statistically minded then can point to the similar production at the same level. This year, you'll notice that Kemp has built on that in every way and is now ranked with Andy LaRoche as a bright young hitting prospect. And when you watch DeWitt swing a bat, you can see that happening as well.

Oh, Blake will probably never have Matt's sheer strength. For Kemp is, as one scout put it, "a monster." The other day at Vero Beach, for example, Anthony Raglani jolted a shot over the left field fence at Holman Stadium. Then Kemp followed that with a blast that soared over everything, the fence, the berm into the great beyond. This guy's got unbelievable strength.

But a lot of those doubles that DeWitt 's racking up now -- and he leads the organization in that department -- are going to fly over the wall as he matures both physically and experience-wise. I don't know what it is about left-handed swings that make them seem purer but Blake certainly possesses one. He also has quick wrists and can turn on a ball in exemplary fashion. His problem there, if anything, is his tendency to pull too much but he's been working on that.

Come to think of it, that's the way Matt was early this season. Now, though, he 's much more into taking the outside pitch (which he constantly sees) to right. And he can fly one out in that direction as well. Oh, there is that bit of difference, too. Matt swings from the right side.

Blake's biggest problem is not at bat but rather in the field. He has too many errors (21) but with an above-average arm and fairly good hands-feet reactions, he should smooth out. Certainly, there's no lack of trying to get better.

Naturally, since DeWitt was a first-round draft pick in 2004, much is expected of him. The tendency then may be to expect more than the numbers he's showing. However, recall that he's in just his first full season, making strides and having a solid, rather than spectacular season.

In other words, just like Kemp did, preceding him. If he keeps following that pattern, the Dodgers will be delighted.

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