Undrafted But Still Valuable

Sergio Garcia, Eric Hull, Casey Hoorelbeke, Cole Bruce, Chris Malone. They're all productive members of the Dodger farm system. And, more to the point, everyone was signed by the Dodgers after he went undrafted.

"I'm very proud of my scouits," says director Logan White, "and one of the reasons is they don't quit and take it easy after the draft but go out and find some good players."

Nobody picked Garcia in 2002 after he finished at Arizona State despite the fact that he led his team in stolen bases. But when the Dodgers needed an extra infielder, scout Tommy Thomas knew Sergio and signed him.

Garcia went on to become the MVP for the Gulf Coast team that year, then seemed destined to be a utility infielder until this season when he got his chance to start for Las Vegas. He's hitting .331 for the 51's so, not surprsingly, manager Jery Royster, a man who went undrafted himself before going on a long major league career, is giving him plenty of opportunities.

Sergio's Vegas teammate Hull is a righthander who was ignored after a strong season at the Univerrsity of Portland because he doesn't have the required fiery fast ball. So, Hank Jones grabbed him for the Dodgers and he's gone on to productive seasons as both a starter and reliever. He was almost untouchable this year until they finally roughed him up Thursday. Still, he's 1-1, 3.86, the main middle man for Royster.

They could have a good contest at Jacksonville games --Name the team that scored on Casey Hoorelbeke . Casey did give up an earned run -- once -- and that's been it so far. The result is a microscopic ERA of 0.25 and five saves for the 6-8 righthander.

He was discovered by George Genovese, a onetime legendary scout for the Giants who finally retired him. Or so they thought but George has kept right on, working part-time for the Dodgers.

He puts together a team of the unwanted every year which plays games around Southern California. He picks off the best for L. A. including Casey's older brother Jesse, then Casey, the fomer college basketball player in 2003.

He also signed the extremely versatile Jimmy Rohan of the Suns who has played every position except catcher since joining the Dodgers in 2002.

Bruce can play a number of positions himself but what he does best is hit and he's been doing that well enough (.295 with five homers) for Vero Beach that he's been named to the Florida State All-Star game. Cole was signed by Chris Smith after playing for the University of Houston where he was named the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Texas Regional in 2002 -- but still undrafted.

His fellow Texan and teammate, Ryan Russ, was another Smith nabbed after the draft in 2004. He's a part-time outfielder for Vero. Righthander Malone is a regular in the Vero rotation. He wasn't drafted out of San Joquin Delta J. C. in 2004, so went to the Alaskan collegiate league, threw a no-hitter, and was spotted by Tim Hallgren. He won nine games as a rookie for Columbus last season.

For a long time Columbus didn't have a similar player but they do now for lefthander Kale Garrison has joined the bullpen after a lengthy stint on the DL -- and quickly pitched two scoreless innings. Garrison, who has a riding fast ball, was a position player at Arizona State who Thomas signed and told him his future was on the mound.

There's some more, too, getting ready to play for either Ogden or the Gulf Coasties. Righthander Kalen Gearheart, signed by Clair Rierson in 2004, has been 4-2, 2.38 over two seasons in the GCL and is ready to move to Ogden. Last June, Rierson found another righthander, Jon Haldis, who posted a 1.96 ERA in the Gulf Coast. Then, he was used out of the bullpen but may be a starter this year.

Ready to debut is outfielder Ryan Rogowaki, late of the University of Illinois. He was the MVP of the Northwoods summer college league where he was spotted by Gerrie Waller.

A pitching coach even got into the act as righthander Doug Brooks, who had dropped out of tiny Madonna College in Michigan, then pitched semi-pro ball last summer until he was recommended to Kenny Howell. Howell, now coaching at Las Vegas, worked him out, liked him and got him for the Dodgers.

It's a good group and one quite possibly to be added to now that the 2006 selection process has ended. Like all good scouts, these guys know their territory.

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