Dodgers Minor Leaguers Honored

The Los Angeles Dodgers organization received considerable recognition when Baseball America announced its 2005 Minor League awards, All-Stars and top prospects in its issue dated Oct. 10-23, 2005.

Double-A Jacksonville, which won the Southern League championship under the guidance of manager John Shoemaker, was tabbed by Baseball America as the Minor League Team of the Year, the first time a Dodgers farm team has been named as such since the publication started rating teams in 1993. Baseball America had previously named the Suns as the Most Talented Team in the Minor Leagues. Jacksonville was also honored as the Double-A Team of the Year.

Chosen to the overall Minor League All-Star Team was third baseman Andy LaRoche, a first-team selection, and Jacksonville catcher Russell Martin, who was a second-team honoree. LaRoche combined for 30 home runs and 94 RBIs between Class A Vero Beach and Jacksonville this past season, while Martin hit .311 and compiled a .430 on-base percentage.

In addition, Martin was picked to the Double-A All-Star team and LaRoche was named to the High Class A team, where he was joined by Vero Beach outfielder Matt Kemp. In 63 games for Vero Beach, LaRoche batted .333 with 21 home runs and 51 RBIs. Kemp hit .306, collected a club-record 27 home runs and drove in 90 runs in 109 games to help Vero Beach earn a playoff berth.

Two Dodgers farmhands were named as the No. 1 prospects in their respective leagues with LaRoche topping the Florida State League and Class A Columbus left-hander Scott Elbert rated first on the prospects list in the South Atlantic League. Elbert, the Dodgers' first-round draft pick in 2004, posted an 8-5 record and a 2.66 ERA in 25 outings, including 24 starts, for the Catfish in 2005. LaRoche also ranked seventh on the Southern League's top prospects list. Other Vero Beach players ranked among the Top 20 FSL prospects were Kemp (fifth), right-hander Justin Orenduff (eighth), second baseman Tony Abreu (11th), shortstop Chin-lung Hu (12th) and left-hander Chuck Tiffany (17th).

In the Southern League, Baseball America named Jacksonville right-hander Chad Billingsley as the fifth-best prospect. Billingsley, the Dodgers' No. 1 selection in the June 2003 First-Year Player Draft and the Dodgers' 2004 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, was the only pitcher named among the Southern League's top 10 prospects. He was 13-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 146 innings for the Suns in 2005 and pitched the first seven innings of a combined no-hitter in the first round of the Southern League playoffs. Other Suns recognized among the league's top prospects were shortstop Joel Guzman (sixth), Martin (10th) and right-hander Jonathan Broxton (14th), who is now with the big league club.

Columbus third baseman Blake DeWitt was selected as the No. 7 prospect in the South Atlantic League. Shortstop Ivan DeJesus Jr. was tabbed as both the 14th-best prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and the 20th best in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he played for the Ogden Raptors. Left-hander Miguel Sanfler of the GCL Dodgers was No. 19 on the league's prospects list while shortstop Juan Rivera was 13th on the Pioneer League list.