Top Dodger Minor Leaguers Singled Out

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Single-A Vero Beach outfielder Matt Kemp has been named Player of the Month and Double-A Jacksonville right-hander Chad Billingsley and left-hander Scott Elbert shared Pitcher of the Month accolades as the club selected its top minor leaguers for August, according to Dodger Director, Player Development Terry Collins.

Coming off a July in which he batted .357 with eight home runs and 25 RBI, the right-handed hitting Kemp compiled a .396 (38-for-96) batting average and .460 on-base percentage in August, collecting four home runs, four doubles, 20 RBI, 20 runs scored, 12 stolen bases and 11 walks. He had 13 multi-hit games among the 26 contests he played during the month, including a 4-for-4 performance on Aug. 13 vs. Palm Beach in which he walked, homered, drove in three runs and scored three times.

Kemp earned season-end Florida State League All-Star honors after batting .306 with 27 home runs, four triples, 21 doubles, 90 RBI, 76 runs scored and 23 stolen bases in 109 games. The 27 homers set a new single-season club record, eclipsing the previous mark of 26, set by Adrian Beltre in 1997. Kemp led the FSL in slugging percentage (.569), ranked second in both home runs and RBI, was fourth in batting average and tied for fourth in extra-base hits (52). In Vero Beach's three-game FSL playoff series, he socked a pair of home runs.

The 20-year-old Kemp completed his third season in the Dodger system after being taken in the third round of the June 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Midwest City High School in Oklahoma.

Billingsley, the Dodgers' 2004 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, made five starts for Jacksonville in August and was 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA, allowing just 14 hits and eight walks while striking out 31 batters in 33.0 innings. In three of his starts, he hurled 7.0 shutout innings, including back-to-back starts on Aug. 21 at Mississippi and Aug. 27 vs. Birmingham when he tossed a complete-game, seven-inning, one-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader. His only loss of the month was a tough setback as he tossed 6.0 innings on Aug. 5 at Mobile and gave up two runs, five hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts. He followed that outing by hurling 7.0 scoreless frames on Aug. 10 in a 6-0 win vs. Chattanooga.

In 28 appearances overall this season, including 26 starts, Billingsley went 13-6 with a 3.51 ERA, giving up 116 hits and 50 walks with 162 strikeouts in 146.0 innings. In his final regular-season start on Sept. 1 vs. Carolina, Billingsley yielded just one run and struck out eight in 6.2 innings to record his fifth consecutive win and eighth victory in his final 10 regular-season decisions.

Billingsley, 21, opened up the Southern League playoffs in impressive fashion last Thursday night vs. Birmingham, pitching the first 7.0 innings of a combined no-hitter with Jonathan Broxton to lead Southern League South Division first-half champion Jacksonville to a 2-0 triumph.

After being selected as the Dodgers' top pick in the June 2003 draft out of Defiance (OH) High School, Billingsley was 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 11 starts for Rookie-level Ogden in 2003. Last season, in a combined 26 starts between Vero Beach and Jacksonville, he posted an 11-4 record with a 2.55 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 134.1 innings. He entered the 2005 campaign rated by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Dodger organization.

Elbert, the Dodgers' first-round draft pick in 2004, made six starts for Columbus this August and was 2-0 with a 1.73 ERA, allowing 13 hits and 13 walks with 35 strikeouts in 26.0 innings while limiting opponents to a .143 batting average. He earned victories in consecutive starts on Aug. 17 vs. Rome and Aug. 23 vs. Greenville, pitching 5.0 shutout innings and giving up one hit in each outing. On Aug. 17, he had 12 strikeouts and on Aug. 23, he fanned 10 batters. Those two contests were preceded by an Aug. 12 performance at Charleston-SC in which he tossed 4.0 scoreless innings.

In 25 appearances for Columbus, including 24 starts, Elbert went 8-5 with a 2.66 ERA that ranked fifth in the South Atlantic League. He struck out 128 batters, walked 57 and permitted just 83 hits in 115.0 innings. Elbert won his last four decisions and six of his last seven. In his final start on Sept. 3 vs. Charleston-SC, he gave up one run, four hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts in 5.0 innings.

Elbert, who turned 20 years old on Aug. 13, was drafted by the Dodgers out of Seneca High School in Missouri and spent his first professional season with Ogden in 2004.

Each Dodger minor league manager nominates players from his team for the monthly honors with the minor league coordinators selecting the winners.

Others receiving consideration for August honors were: Las Vegas -- second baseman Delwyn Young (.328); Jacksonville - catcher Russell Martin (.357 batting average, .486 on-base percentage, 16 RBI), outfielder Justin Ruggiano (.395, 18 RBI); Columbus - outfielder Ryan Carter (.352, nine home runs, eight doubles, 30 RBI); Ogden - outfielder Adam Godwin (.325), left-handed pitcher Brent Leach (3-0, 1.32 ERA) and right-handed pitcher Ramon Troncoso (3-0, seven saves, 2.16 ERA); Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Dodgers - infielder Eduardo Perez (.360, four homers, eight doubles, 15 RBI), outfielder Trayvon Robinson (.387) and left-handed pitcher Ramon Paredes (3-0, 1.93 ERA).

Vero Beach third baseman Andy LaRoche was selected as the Dodger Minor League Player of the Month for both April and May. Left-handers Luis Gonzalez of Jacksonville and Chuck Tiffany of Vero Beach shared Pitcher of the Month accolades for April. Columbus right-handers Blake Johnson and Chris Malone were Dodger Minor League Co-Pitchers of the Month in May. The June honorees were Vero Beach second baseman Tony Abreu and Columbus/Jacksonville pitcher Carlos Alvarez. Columbus/Vero Beach second baseman Travis Denker and Vero Beach right-handed reliever Mark Alexander were recipients of the August player and pitcher of the month awards.

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