Can Megrew Come Back Is The Question?

Mike Megrew was sitting in the stands watching an Instructional League game at Holman Stadium when he reminisced about the one that he believes made him a Dodger.

He was a high schooler in Rhode Island at the time when, " We had some rain that weekend so a game was set for Monday. The coach hadn't said who was going to pitch and he told me at the last minute that I was. Up to that time there had been about 25 scouts there every game but because this was a last-minute deal, there was only one -- John Kosciak of the Dodgers.

"I pitched a perfect game! Afterwards, he came up and talked to me and said how glad he was that he got to see it. That night, I was getting phone calls from all these scouts saying they'd have been there if they had known about it. Anyway, when the draft came the Dodgers picked me and I always felt it was because of that game as much as anything. "

That was in 2002 when Megrew was chosen in the fifth round of the draft. Since then he went on to become one of the top-rated pitching prospects in the organization, seemingly on the fast track to the 40-man roster when that path was blocked by elbow surgery last year.

He came back late this summer but that didn't work out a bit. "I had no arm strength at all," he says now. "I'd go out and just get so tired." It was clearly a case of too much, too soon as the results of the two games in which he worked were two loses and a 20.25 ERA. He was shut down once more and hasn't been allowed to throw in Instructional competition at all.

"I feel stronger now so we're working on getting things together. I should be ready by the spring," he maintains.

Megrew was never a power guy who blew the ball past hitters at 90-plus speed. Rather, he worked to upset their timing, using deft movement to set up his changeup which is his out pitch. Few if any at his level seemed to possess his mound presence and pitching savvy.

All of which presents the Dodger brass with a dilemma. 2005 marks his fourth year in the minors which means he's now eligible for the Rule 5 draft. So, it's decision time on whether to promote him.

Certainly the Megrew of 2005 looked not at all like the one who threw seven no-hit innings in the Florida State League just a year ago. But if some club is willing to make the gamble and draft him and if he can come back strongly, then they've lost a potentially good one.

These are the kinds of decisions that will be mulled over in next week's organizational meetings. They've tended toward not counting on the injured. Two -- Ryan Ketchner and Derek Thompson -- have already been dropped from the parent club roster.

On the other hand, last year, they felt that Marcos Carvajal was too far removed from the big league scene since he had only pitched at low A and left him unprotected. The Rockies took him inexperience or no, and he wound up a member of their staff with a bright future.

There's a number of young pitchers who have shown enough flashes of ability that they have to be considered but only so many roster spots available. In the meantime, Megrew, once a 6-6 lefty of considerable promise, now a question mark, can only sit and watch, wait and wonder.

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