Instructional League Opens on Sunday

The Instructional League is usually reserved for players from the lower minors but the 2005 edition for the Dodgers lists a few who played as high as AAA this year including one whose participation is perhaps the most intriguing of all for Delwyn Young is slated to be on hand to learn outfielding.

As one scout put it while watching Young play, "That kid's quite a hitter but I don't think he'll ever be a good second baseman. He's too stiff in the upper body." There has been speculation that a position switch would be in order for Young, who as usual hit well this past season which he split between Jacksonville and Las Vegas.

Position switching is only. one order of business at the camp which was disbanded after its first week in 2004 when both hurricanes Frances and Jeanne did considerable damage to Dodgertown, its site now after over 30 years at various locations in Arizona. Here, instructors work with a large group of prime prospects to speed up their progress through the minors.

Director of Player Development Terry Collins and his roving instructors -- Rick Honeycutt (pitching), George Hendricks (batting) and Dave Anderson (fielding) will be on hand as well as those managers and coaches assigned here. This year that group includes managers Travis Barbary (Columbus) and Juan Bustabad (Ogden) as well as pitching coaches Kenny Howell (Jacksonville), Glenn Dishman (Columbus) and Bob Welch (Ogden) along with batting coaches Dan Radison (Vero Beach) and Gary Ingram (Columbus).

They'll be working with a selected group of over 50 players with almost half of those being pitchers since moundsmen are usually held to an inning or two to prevent overwork after a long season. In fact, some have been shut down and won't participate at all like Blake Johnson and Brent Leach.

However, Orlando Rodriguez and Luis Gonzalez are two pitchers who were in the upper minors who are expected to be on hand as are Scott Elbert, Chuck Tiffany, Casey Hoorelbeke and John Meloan among others. Elbert is one of two 2004 first-round draft picks slated to participate along with fellow Missourian, third baseman Blake DeWitt.

Jumbo Diaz will also be on hand as much to work off some of his 290-plus pounds as on pitching techniques for the huge Dominican has been ordered to get his weight down to more presentable figures.

Chin-lung Hu, who played for Taiwan in the World Cup tournament is another infielder who'll be in Vero Beach for the camp as will Ivan DeJesus, Jr. and Josh Bell from the 2005 draft. Sergio Pedroza, Anthony Raglani, Scott VanSlyke and Jamie Hoffmann are among those on the outfielding list. Eduardo Perez, who led the Gulf Coast League in batting, will be playing first base, a position he was used at occasionally this year. Cory Dunlap is another first baseman on the roster.

Catchers include Juan Apodaca, Chris Westervelt and Mike Nixon, the latter having spent most of the year in the high minors.

There is one newcomer on the list, lefthander Jonathan Dutton, the 24th-round draft pick from Rancho Bernardo High in San Diego who recently signed. Dutton is regarded by scouting director Logan White as "Very projectable. He only throws around 88 now but he has a nice, easy motion and a good body. I think he can become a good one down the road."

The players are scheduled to report Sunday with games against teams from neighboring Florida camps to start Sept. 23.

The preliminary roster:
Pitchers- Mario Arias, Marlon Alvarez, Diaz, Dutton, Elbert, Luis Gonzalez, Kale Garrison, Zach Hammes, Hoorelbeke, Marshall Looney, Chris Malone, James McDonald, Meloan, Matt Merricks, Ramon Paredes, Jonathan Pratt, Miguel Ramirez, Orlando Rodriguez, Tiffany, Ramon Troncoso, Kyle Wilson, Wesley Wright.
Catchers- Apodaca, Gabriel Gutierrez, Kenley Jansen, Nixon, Westervelt.
First Base- Dunlap, Eduardo Perez.
Infield- Bell, DeJesus, DeWitt, Travis Denker, Hu, Francisco Lizarraga, Russell Mitchell.
Outfield- Ryan Carter, Hoffmann, Xavier Paul, Pedroza, Raglani, Trayvon Robinson, VanSlyke, Young.