Dodger Minor League Outfield Situation Strong

In the sixth, and final, of our series on position players in the Dodger minor league system, we'll take a look at the outfielders. Heading a strong field that spans the entire system, Matt Kemp and Delwyn "DY" Young top the list.

With over 50 outfield seasons -- some players recorded statistics on more than one team -- we have to trim down the list to those who have seen the most action and we have chosen 250 at-bats as the cutoff.

We can't profile them all, but the statistics at the bottom of this essay prove answers the old question, "Are their anymore at home like you?" with a resounding "Yes!"

We'll start with the cherry on top the banana split, Matt Kemp, who has such an explosive debut in the major leagues last year, a debut that must have made a strong impression on both the Los Angeles brass as the other front office personnel in baseball, because nearly every trade offer begins with "We'll take Kemp and …" although the next words heard were something like "no way" from GM Ned Colletti.

Matt Kemp
Kemp was chosen out of Midwest High School in Oklahoma as the Dodgers' sixth pick in the 2003 draft. He turned down an offer to play basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners.

Although he at first still harbored hopes to return to basketball, his mercurial rise through the Dodger system -- 2003- .270 in the Gulf Coast League; 2004- .288 in the South Atlantic League. 2005- .306 in the Florida State League, all with the appropriate power -- changed his mind.

After 27 dingers at Vero Beach in 2005, 23 steals and a .306 average, he got extensive playing time and turned a number of heads.

They still talk about early in the spring, manager Grady Little watched Joel Guzman sent a couple of mammoth blasts soaring out into the trees that rim Holman Stadium. Then Kemp stepped into the cage and ripped a shot over the trees onto the roof of a storage shed well over 500 feet away.

In a spring training game later in the spring, he caught a fly in right field and nailed the Atlanta runner attempting to tag and score. Umpire Bruce Froemming said it was the best throw he'd seen in years. Matt apologized after the game, saying, "Actually the ball slipped a bit. I had wanted to one-hop it."

But obviously pressing, he hit only .111 in 13 spring games and was sent to Jacksonville where hit his .327 over 48 games with seven homers and 34 runs batted in. He was handed a ticket to Los Angeles and on May 28 he made his debut with a single against Washington.

He got his first Major League home run on June 1, his second on June 2 and his third on June 3. He added two on June 11 and became the first Dodger and fifth major leaguer in history to hit seven home runs in his first 18 games.

He hit in his first 10 starts and in 13 of his first 15 and finished June with a .293 average, seven homers and 16 runs batted in.

But with only 48 games above Class A, he started to struggle and was sent to Las Vegas where he hit .353 with three homers 36 runs batted in and 14 stolen bases.

He starts the season, at the tender age of 23, with a sparkling future before him and a number of outfielders with Dodgers across the chest looking over their shoulders in the direction of Las Vegas.

Delwyn "DY" Young
Young suffers from the comparison to Kemp, but is a blue-ribbon prospect in his own right. A fourth round pick in the 2002 draft, the 5-8, 209 pound switch hitter has finished the season with a .300+ average three of his six minor league seasons and his three misses were .291, .296 and .273.

Las Vegas manager Jerry Royster was one of Young's biggest boosters. Listen to what he had to say: "You think that Joel Guzman or Andy LaRoche are the best young hitters we have?" he queries. "Well, I think it's Young. No question. It isn't very often that a bat goes through the zone the way his does. It makes you pay attention."

He has banged out 95 minor league home runs and knocked in an even 500 runs to go along with the steady average.

He switched from second base to the outfield in 2006 at Las Vegas and when asked about the new position, said: "I'll play where they want me to," and when asked about problems, "No, not really. It's just like shagging flies."

He was used in left field to break him in slowly and picked up 14 assists during the season to prove he is working his way into the position.

Still only 24, he seems ready to make the jump to the show.

Tony Raglani
Raglani came into the organization in 2004 as a fifth-round draft pick from George Washington University but was handicapped by a broken hamate bone in his right hand. He had it fixed after he signed but was only able to get into six games where he crafted a .300 average (6-for-20).

As a college player, he was jumped to Vero Beach in 2005 and was nearly lost among with Matt Kemp,, Andy LaRoche, Tony Abreu and Justin Ruggiano crowd, he began to find himself.

He surprisingly wound up with a .289 average, with 19 home runs, 20 doubles and 77 runs batted in, a remarkable performance for a virtual rookie.

He as pushed up to Jacksonville, where he found the going much tougher. A .247 average with nine homers and 40 RBI after 104 games pushed him back down to Vero Beach.

He didn't spend any time feeling sorry for himself and hit .317 in the final 17 games of the Florida State League season.

He should get another shot at AA in 2007 and his progress from that point should be steady and upward.

Andrew Locke
Chosen in the 19th round of the 2005 draft out of Boston College where he was the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2002, Locke had a strong debut at Ogden, leading the team in slugging percentage (.556) and tying for the team lead in homers (18).

Moving to Columbus, he was one of the better hitters in the league at .325-8-50 and was sent up to Vero Beach in the middle of the year. There he started slowly but improved to wind up at .286-7-39.

He's been better than a 19th round draft pick normally should be with quick wrists and some pop. He's more than adequate in the field.

He'll get tested in 2007 when he moves up to Jacksonville.

Xavier Paul
Paul was a fourth round pick in 2003 out of Slidell High in Louisiana. He hit .444 for the 2001 Junior National team that earned a gold medal in the World Championships.

At 18, he aced his rookie season in 2003 at Ogden, hitting .307 with 7 homers and 47 RBI, winning Pioneer League player of the month in August, and leading the short-season franchise in at-bats, hits, home runs, triples, runs scored, total bases and walks. He won our Guy Wellman Award as the organization's Rookie of the Year.

He led Columbus in 2004 with 26 doubles and earned Dodger Player of the Month for April after a .361 average and closed the season with a 15-game hitting streak.

And his young teammate was a kid called Matt Kemp, who finished the season with a .270 average and a single home run at Ogden.

But after he injured his back and hurricane Katrina destroyed his home in Louisiana, his average slid to .247 over 85 games. They also found out he had a weak eye that neither contact lenses or glasses seemed to help and Kemp whizzed by him up the organization's ladder.

Things started to break his way in 2006. His home was being rebuilt and he spent the winter in Tallahassee where he concentrated on baseball. "

During the 2006 season at Vero Beach, he started off at the bottom of the batting order but quickly moved up to the leadoff slot. He finished the season with a solid .285 average, 13 homers and 48 runs batted in.

The difference this time around ? "I'm healthy," he told Bill Shelley. "My back doesn't bother me. And I'm playing every day. Last year after my injury, I'd play a day, then sit. Can't get anything going that way."

He'll open the 2007 -- still only 22 -- and may get a shot at Jacksonville but if he doesn't, you can look for him up there before the season ends.

Bridger Hunt
Hunt, who was a ninth-round pick out of Central Missouri State, was a] sent to Columbus to open his professional career and b] asked to abandon his former position at third base and move into the outfield.

He was picked for his bat after hitting .315 with 74 runs batted in during his final college season. He led his league in hits and triples and was named the Player of the Year for the Central Region. He also earned Division II second-team All-American honors.

He justified the Scout's reports, hitting .314 for the Catfish
He hasn't been fazed by the pitching for currently he's hitting .314 and stealing an even dozen bases.
He's 22 and at 6-1, 190, he's solidly built and should add more power as he goes along.
Lucas May
May may be an outfielder in 2007 or he might be a catcher, but at either position the youngster will provide a solid bat.

In 2003 he was the Dodger's eighth pick and he hit .347 over his first 21 games in the Gulf Coast league and ended up leading the league with 143 assists while playing shortstop.

A broken hand limiting him to 34 games in 2004 over which he his .284.

It was a hernia that slowed him in 2005 at Columbus, but he got in 99 games before going down. He hit only .229 but added 25 extra base hits, including nine home runs.

Finally healthy, he got into 119 games for Columbus, hitting .273 with 27 doubles, nine triples, 18 homers and 82 runs batted in. He also stole 14 bases in 16 attempts.

Ryan Rogowski
Rogowski signed as a non-drafted free agent late in the 2005 season (August 28). He had been a running back on the state champion football team at Catholic Central in Redford, Michigan, was a state champion wrestler as a junior and was the captain of the football, wrestling and baseball teams.

He attended college at J.A. Logan CC and the University of Illinois and as a junior hit .374 with 31 steals. He headed for the collegiate Northwoods League and hit .346, leading the league in hits, runs and triples and a league record 44 stolen bases.

After he wound up winning The MVP award the Dodgers' Gerric Waller won the battle to sign him as a free agent.

Sent to Ogden, as a 22-yer-old rookie, he was installed as a leadoff man and despite sharing the outfield with four others, may have been the team's MVP.

He hit .312 over 70 games with 14 doubles, eight triples 36 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 35 attempts. His 124 his and 82 runs scored led the team.

Is he real or is it Memorx? His rookie year marks him as one more strong example of the fact that Dodger scouts keep searching and finding good ones even after the draft is over.

Scott Van Slyke
Van Slyke, son of Major League outfielder Andy Van Slyke and brother of A.J. Van Slyke who was the Cardinals' 23rd pick in 2005, had a scholarship offer from the University of Mississippi and most organizations felt he wasn't ready for professional baseball.

Although he was named the Missouri High School Player of the Year, when he wasn't picked by the 14th round the Dodgers took a chance on him. Like the other clubs, they felt his inclination go to Ole Miss was strong and that physically he just wasn't ready.

They knew if they waited three years, he would probably be a first- or second-round choice and would be taken before the Dodgers could get to him so they made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

And many are feeling that they well have gotten more than they had hoped for. His figures at age 20 and just out of high school indicated he was ready for the pro game, as he posted a .282-2-15 in the Gulf Coast League.

He opened at Ogden in 2006 and hit .258 over 45 games with nine extra base hits and 17 runs batted in.

He's been around the game all his life and looks like one that in a couple of years could well become an exciting player.
                  ave gm   ab  r  h  2b 3 hr bi sb
Matt Kemp LV     .368  44 182 37  67 14 6  3 36 14
Wilkin Ruan LV   .325  10 406 13   4  1 0  0  3  3
Jamie HoffmannLV .300   4  10  0   3  0 0  0  1  1
Jeff Duncan LV   .299  89 278 53  83 10 2  6 26 21  
Nick Alvarez LV  .293  54 157 27  46  7 1  3 14  5
Delwyn Young  LV .273 140 532 76 145 42 1 18 98 34
Tony Raglani Jx  .244 105 336 49  82 25 0  9 40  6
Matt Kemp Jx     .327  48 189 38  65 15 2  7 34 11
Nick Alvarez Jx  .178  16  45  6   8  1 0  0  9  0
Wilkin Ruan Jx   .260 101 300 39  79 15 1  1 18 11
Andrew Locke VB  .286  61 231 33  66 16 0  7 39  5
Tony Raglani VB  .317  17  63 10  20  4 1  1 29  0
Eloy Gutierrez VB.217  26  69 11  15  2 1  0 19  5
Xavier PaulVB    .285 120 470 62 134 23 3 13 49 22
Jamie Hoffman VB .252 121 433 50 109 16 0  5 29 15
Adam Godwin Col  .239 109 383 58 103 12 6  2 36 30
Andrew Locke Col .325  62  243 49 79 16 4  8 50  5
Bridger Hunt Col .314  67 236 45  74 12 1 12 41  2
Luke May Col     .273 119 450 76 123 27 9 18 82 14
Ryan Rogowski Og .312  70 263 64  82 14 8  4 36 30
Scott Van SlykeOg.256  45 156 18  40  5 2  2 17  5
Bridger Hunt GC  .125   2   8  0   1  0 0  0  1  0
Eloy Gutierrez GC.262  19  65 13  17  4 0  1  6  7
Nick Alvarez GC  .385   5  13  4   5  1 0  0  1  1