Dodgers' farm system ranked first

LOS ANGELES, California -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' Minor League system was rated first among National League teams and second in Major League Baseball when USA Today Sports Weekly announced its final organization power rankings for the 2005 season in its issue dated Sept. 7-13.

Sports Weekly's rankings are based on "quality and performance of top prospects, breakthrough players in 2005, balance and depth of system, on-field performance and farm system's contribution to the Major League club this season." The publication stated that the Dodgers' Minor League system is "building a balanced collection. Quality and quantity, especially at the two midlevel full-season clubs (Double-A Jacksonville and Class A Vero Beach)."

Several top Dodgers prospects enjoyed stellar 2005 campaigns, including right-hander Chad Billingsley, the club's 2004 Minor League Pitcher of the Year and 2003 No. 1 draft pick. In 28 appearances, including 26 starts, for Jacksonville, he compiled a 13-6 record, 3.51 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 146 innings. Also playing for the Suns was shortstop Joel Guzman, the Dodgers' 2004 Minor League Player of the Year. He hit .287 in 122 games with 16 homers, 31 doubles and 75 RBIs.

Three Dodgers farm clubs, Jacksonville, Vero Beach and Rookie-level Ogden, won first-half division championships to earn playoff berths. Jacksonville was tabbed last month by Baseball America as the most talented team in minor league baseball. Four pitchers from the Jacksonville club, Jonathan Broxton, Edwin Jackson, Hong-Chih Kuo and Derek Thompson, earned promotions to the big league club over the course of this season.

Among other highly regarded Dodgers prospects, third baseman Andy LaRoche, the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Month in both April and May, combined for 30 home runs and 94 RBIs for Vero Beach and Jacksonville this season. Jacksonville catcher Russell Martin hit .311 with 61 RBIs and a .430 on-base percentage. Vero Beach outfielder Matt Kemp hit .306, clubbed 27 homers, drove in 90 runs and stole 23 bases. Second baseman Delwyn Young combined for a .305 average, 20 homers, 37 doubles and 76 RBI for Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas. Right-hander Justin Orenduff pitched for both Vero Beach and Jacksonville and was 10-5 with a 3.20 ERA, striking out 146 batters in 126.2 innings. Left-hander Scott Elbert went 8-5, tallying a 2.66 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 115.0 innings, for Single-A Columbus.