Forty-Man Roster Contains Surprises

Most of the call-ups to the 40-man roster at this time of year are rather automatic. There are certain players that you absolutely have to protect from the Rule 5 draft and nobody's going to argue about that. That they are probably more than a year away from actually helping the team is also true but still such is their prospect status it is a certainty that they will be placed on the roster.

Such certainly is the case of James McDonald. Few if any other rose in the estimation of scouts as he did. Someday legends may arise about how it was only after he failed as an outfielder that he was put b ack on the mound in desperation but that wouldn't be true. He was only biding his time in the field while his tendinitis healed. The plan always was to place him back on the mound when that occurred so it was a script that was followed.

Still, his rise was noteworthy for he's forged his way through the pack to appear very much like at the least a middle of the rotation starter in the big leagues in the not-too-distant future.

Justin Orenduff was another virtual lock from the time he was a supplemental first round draft choice in 2004. Only an injury it seemed could stymy him- and it almost did for he had shoulder surgery that kept him out much of 2006. Yet he showed more than enough of his old verve upon his return that he, too, was a must acquisition.

The same is true of outfielder Xavier Paul. He broke in in 2003 with such panache that he loomed as a coming star. Yet the next two seasons saw him wander in the wilderness, mostly because of eye problems that hampered his hitting. He tried contacts, he tried glasses, he tried everything until finally in 2006 he began looking like the kid with promise the he had been anointed. When he continued on the same path this season with Jacksonville, he, too, was a must to call up.

In all, seven were selected and the other four couldn't be so sure. It had always been the rap against righthander Cory Wade that he began a season well, then faded. Thus year he was challenged at mid-season with a promotion to Jacksonville and he responded with an excellent second half. Still, his stuff doesn't overwhelm you so he was sent to the Arizona Fall League but only as a part time performer. When did the best of all the Dodger pitchers there, he made his case convincingly.

Luke May is a catcher now after having been a shortstop, a left fielder and a center fielder. What he is mostly is a gamer, a player who will often perform at a level higher than his physical skills would seem to warrant. His catching skills are still in the embryonic stage but he throws well enough. What's more he shows growing power and that, more than anything, has him on the roster.

It took Ramon Troncoso three years before he battled his way from the Dominican Republic to these shores to pitch. It was when he was made into a closer that he began to show what he's capable of. He was convincing in that role for Inland Empire and did the same when promoted to Jacksonville.

Mario Alvarez, on the other hand, has always been known as a pitcher with potential as far as abilities but one who seems to get lost in the middle of games. He's never been consistent and wasn't this year either. However, he demonstrated enough latent ability in the Instructional League that he was another called up.

In bringing up Alvarez, they passed over others with that same Inland Empire team like Jesus Castillo, lefthander Cody White and outfielder Jamie Hoffmann, who hit .311 but didn't make the grade. Others passed on include lefthander Wesley Wright and outfielder Anthony Raglani, who hit home runs. Often when players are passed up it's with the thought that even if they get drafted, they aren't big league ready so will be returned.

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