L.A. Signs Just One Draft-and-Follow

     The draft-and-follow era of baseball's amateur selection process ended this past week with barely a ripple as far as the Dodgers were concerned as they wound up signing only one player before the last window closed. That player, they hope, has some possibilities. He's catcher Griff Erickson from San Diego Mesa College, who has some projection both offensively and defensively.

    He's a big (6-3, 220) switch-hitter with some juice in his bat. He came on at the end of the season to wind up hitting .305.  He didn't start catching until his senior year in high school so has only two years at the position but has shown definite progress in that area, too.  Hie has an excellent arm with his time on throws to second base at or better than the major league average.

    Erickson was chosen in the 15th round last year out of high school in San Diego but wasn't considered ready for pro ball until now. He's 19 year old.

   The team also had serious negotiations with two infielders but wound up signing neither so they'll go back into the draft. The asking price on Nick Akins, the 13th pick in 2006, and Justin Coats, the 16th selection then,  was considered too high.

   Over the years L.A. hasn't had any true stars come out of this process with Garey Ingram, who was up and down for several seasons, probably the best. (He's presently a batting coach in the system.) There were others who did make it up but only after being traded. Steve Colyer was briefly a Dodger before being dealt off. He was with the Braves earlier this year. Reggie Abercrombie (Marlins) and Victor Diaz (Mets, Rangers) are two others who made it up after trades.

    Right now, there are some who were signed via this procedure who have shown considerable promise with three pitchers - righthanders Jesus Castillo and James McDonald with Inland Empire and lefthander Cody White with Great Lakes probably the best of the lot.

    The team has also had luck signing some draft-and-follows of other teams that didn't sign with their original drafting team thus went back into the draft where the Dodgers picked them. Delwyn Young and Andy LaRoche are two such.

   But probably the most successful story is that of scout Clarence Johns, who, checking out one of the Dodgers' own draft-and-follows as a catching possibility, decided that he liked an infielder on the same junior college team better so recommended drafting him instead. That was how the Dodgers got Russell Martin.