OF Xavier Paul -- Prospect #40

Fifteenth in a series on the top Dodger prospects as we count down to the very best.

Position- Outfield
Residence- Slidell, La.
DOB- Feb. 25, 1985
Ht.- 6-0
Wt.- 200
B/T- L/R
05 Club- Vero Beach (High A)

Paul has spent the past two seasons free-falling on this list; so much so, that he's in danger of dropping off it altogether.

It's a far cry from his rookie season in 2003 when, as a fourth-round draft choice and a high school All-American he torched the Pioneer League (.307-7-47) and won the Guy Wellman award as the organization's Rookie of the Year.

He opened 2004 at Columbus by hitting .361 in April, then went into a decline that has continued.

His problems may in large part by blamed on two adverse physical conditions. He's had eye troubles and has flipped-flopped between wearing contacts and prescription lens several times.

Then, this past spring, he hurt his back and didn't seem to swing the bat the same after coming back. Although he's been promoted steadily, his average has declined to .265 at Columbus to .247 this past season at Vero.

Though he certainly can generate power from his stocky, muscular frame and a quick stroke, he managed only seven home runs and 41 RBI while going in and out of the lineup in 2005.

Even his stolen base ratio has suffered for, though he possesses quickness, he swiped only one of six at Vero in 2005. It was a year that also saw his family home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Now, as his family must rebuild their residence, he was restructure his career. If his eye problems persist, laser surgery may be called for.

He's never been a strong fielder although he boasts a superior arm and he has the physical talent to succeed if he can get grooved again.

He'll be hard-pressed to move up to Jacksonville so may have to stay at Vero, at least for a time, as he works to regain his old form.

Previous selections:
#41 -- LHP Miguel Sanfler
#42 -- 3B Josh Bell
#43 -- RHP Jordan Pratt
#44 -- OF Sergio Pedroza
#45 -- RHP Julio Pimentel
#46 -- 1b-1B Eduardo Perez
#47 -- RHP James McDonald
#48 -- OF Brian Myrow
#49 -- LHP Danny Muegge
#50 -- RHP Miguel Ramirez
#51 -- OF Ryan Carter
#52 -- RHP Casey Hoorelbeke
#53 -- OF Trayvon Robinson
#54 -- RHP Ramon Troncoso