Two Top Pitchers Out in Arizona

There's bad news for the Dodgers from Arizona where two of their top pitching prospects had to be shut down- one for the fall but the other for Tommy John surgery.

Lefthander Scott Elbert, generally regarded as the top pitching prospect in the organization, reported a tender arm while wokring out in preparation for the Arizona Fall League. While an examiniation showed only general soreness, perhaps from the number iof innings accumulated this season, it was decided to rest him rather than risk possible further damage. He's expected to be ready by spring training.

However, righthander Bryan Morris , who had been with the Instructional League team, had to be shut down after, he, too, reported soreness. An examination at the Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles revealed some ligament damage in his elbow so the decision was made to operate. This means he'll miss all of the 2007 season.

Elbert, the Dodgers first draft choice in 2005, dominated hitters in the Florida State League where he was regarded as the best lefthanded pitcher in the league. He then moved up from Vero Beach to Jacksonville and threw the ball well for the Suns. Overall, he was 11-9 with a 2.90 ERA, striking out 173 batters in 146 innings while holding opposing hitters to a lowly .190 average.

Morris was the second first-round pick of the club in June (Clayton Kershaw was the first) and spent the summer at Ogden. Although his record was hardly impressive (4-5, 5.13), he was still named the Pioneer League's No. 1 prospect in a poll of the league's managers conducted by Baseball America. He throws a 97 mph fast ball and struck out 79 batters in 54.2 innings.

Righthander Jon Meloan, who moved rapidly from Columbus through Vero Beach to Jacksonville this year, has been selected to replace Elbert on the staff of the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL.