Three Dodgers Ranked Among Top Prospects

Who are the best prospects in all baseball for 2008? Minor League Baseball put that to a panel of experts- scouts - and they came up with a list of the top 50, among them three Dodgers figuring prominently.

A group of 20 scouts were asked to list the top 30 players in order that they believe rate at the head of any list. The only criteria they had to use was that all had to still hold rookie status for next year. That means, for instance, in the Dodgers case, that James Loney wouldn't be eligible.

But there were those that compiled enough points to be ranked among the best- lefthander Clayton Kershaw is fourth, third baseman Andy LaRoche is 33rd and another lefthander, Scott Elbert, 36th

. Outfielder Jay Bruce of the Reds received the most points to rank No.1 while third baseman Evan Longoria of the Rays is second with outfielder Cameron Maybin of the Tigers coming in third.

That means that in his position, Kershaw is considered by the scouts to be the best pitching prospect out there. To further illustrate the regard in which he is held, two other pitchers were ranked next in order behind him in fifth and sixth places. And both have already received major league distinction for Jaba Chamberlain of the Yankees is next or order after Kershaw followed by Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox, who pitched a no-hitter up on top.

The scouts were impressed by the pitches and the poise that the 19-year-old Kershaw displayed while making the jump from low A Great Lakes to AA Jacksonville in his first full year as a pro.

There are some who doubt the ability of LaRoche to take over as the Dodger third baseman but that doesn't include these scouts who feel he'll hit for both average and power. They also cite his glove work and strong arm at third.

The inclusion of Elbert among the top group is quite a distinction as well for he pitched in only three games in 2007 before going out for shoulder surgery. Yet he was impressive enough in those appearances to rate inclusion.

They noted that he sometimes has command problems but gets so much out of his moving mid-90's fast ball and curve that he can overcome that. The fact that hitters managed only a .128 average against him illustrates that point.

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