Dodger Prospect #2 Matt Kemp

   LAdugout.com is currently taking a look at the top prospects in the Dodger system. Here's another as we count down among the very best.

Name- MATTHEW RYAN KEMP
Position- Outfield
Residence- Midwest City, Okla.
DOB- Sept. 23, 1984
Hit- 6-4
Wt- 230
B/T- R/R
How Obtained- Drafted in sixth round 2003
06 Clubs- Jacksonville (Souther), Las Vegas (Pacific Coast), Los Angeles (National)

   In spring training last year, then new Dodger manager Grady Little got some looks at Matt Kemp and was impressed. It seemed every day he did something- a lashing drive, a herculean throw- that would cause favorable notice. So, when outfield help was needed and Kemp was ripping the Southern League asunder, he was called up. Never mind that he'd been down in A ball the year before.

   He got off to the kind of start that Rookie's of the Year are made of. Soon, however, pitchers learned to exploit his rawness and steadily expanded his strike zone. It wasn't long before a steady diet of breaking pitches low and away were eating him up. He eventually went to the bench, then back to Las Vegas where he reestablished his hitting credentials to earn a September callup.

    He's the quintessential five-tool prospect. He's got considerable strength, a quick bat, good speed and an excellent arm. Learning plate discipline is the object he's been working on for please remember, it wasn't that long ago that he was a basketball player good enough to be recruited by Division I schools. Then, baseball was only a sideline. The Dodgers drafted him on his athleticism and it was only after his grades failed to get him the scholarship he wanted that he turned to the diamond.

   This past year saw him batter AA pitching for a .327 mark  and clip AA for a .368 average. His major league totals were not bad at all- .253 with seven home runs. In all he drove 17 out of the park and had 93 RBI. He played winter ball in the Dominican where he started slowly but improved mightily as the season progressed.

   He can cover ground in center but they seem to like him better in right to take advantage of that arm. But with the signing of Luis Gonzalez he'll probably open the season back in Vegas, polish up his game a bit more, then get called up. They want him playing every day when he does and that time should come fairly soon for he's just getting into a game that he should conquer.

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