Dodger Prospect #17 - RHP Justin Orenduff

Latest in a series on top Dodger prospects as we count down to the very best. While Bill Shelley is on medical leave, take a look at Prospect #17, RHP Justin Orenduff.

Orenduff Ready to Make 2008 His Year One of the premier pitching prospects in the Dodgers system, Justin Orenduff, bounced back from surgery in 2006 to post a solid season in 2007, doing nothing to damage his lefty status.

His fast ball resides in the low 90's and has a good sink to it. He keeps it low so is much more of a groundball than a strikeout pitcher but averaged over nine Ks per nine innings in four of his five minor league seasons.

He throws a formidable 82-84 slider with good bite which he often uses as an out pitch and a changeup which is not always a plus pitch though it seems to be getting there.

He likes to change speeds, keep the batters off-balance and has a nice, easy motion. In all he looks for all the world like someone who could become a middle of the rotation starter or better in the big leagues.

He was on the fast track and expected to crack the Dodgers staff in late 2007 but surgery cost him a season and he may full fill that destiny this year.

The Dodgers had two extra picks in the 2004 draft because the Yankees signed Paul Quantrill. With the supplemental choice at the end of the first round they chose Orenduff from Virginia Commonwealth University.

He was selected to compete for a spot on Team USA and "I was one of the last people invited," he told Bill Shelley, "So, I was determined just to go and enjoy the experience."

He certainly made it enjoyable for he not only won a spot on the team, he became a standout, going 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA that included a two-hit shutout of Brazil in the Pan American Games.

He came into pro ball having thrown a lot of innings for a so-so college team; thus, he was used carefully. His record was unprepossessing (2-3, 4.74). However, in his last start he pitched five innings of one-hit ball and that performance, and the fact he struck out 57 batters in 44 innings, was more an indication of his true ability.

Despite the unprepossessing rookie record, they advanced him to Vero Beach in 2005. He entered the year as that team's number two starter, ranked behind Chuck Tiffany, but soon became its most dependable man, posting a 5-3, 2.24 mark by mid-season when he was chosen for the league's All-Star game. He didn't get to pitch in it, being promoted to Jacksonville, instead.

There he became a strong member of the staff for the team ranked No. 1 in prospects in all the minors. He was 5-2, 4.07 for the Suns, earning a spring invitation in the process.

Orenduff is a realist. He was in the big league camp to display his wares as one of the more promising of the young pitching hopefuls not with any chance of making it up. Not that he wasn't quite capable of seizing an opportunity, you understand.

For he certainly has the pitches and his feel for pitching is well above average. He was ranked among the elite of the pitchers in the system for good reason.

That he says, "Is what got me drafted when I was because it got me noticed more than what I did in college."

Playing at Virginia Commonwealth, it should be noted, is not like playing for Stanford or Texas or Arizona State or some other stud program. His backing at the school consisted in the main of inexperienced players whose inabilities in the field often kept him out there longer than he should.

The way he was pitching it seemed he was soon to be in the big leagues. However, when he made it to Los Angeles, though, it wasn't to Dodger Stadium but rather to the Jobe-Kerlan Clinic. He has been experiencing pain but an MRI failed to reveal the site of the problem. Exploratory surgery was performed and deposits that had been building up in his biceps area for some time were cleaned out.

   Before that he had been working very nicely at Jacksonville. When he was shut down he was 4-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 10 starts.

Since the operation didn't involve too much cutting and repairing, he was ready to go again in spring training. But as veteran pitchers will tell you, it takes a full year to return from any operation, now matter how noninvasive.

With that in mind, he had a fine 2007 season for Jacksonville. His eight wins tied him for eighth place on the franchise charts and he was ninth with a 4.21 earned run average. But then he was fourth in total strikeouts (113) and third in strikeouts per nine innings (9.33), one of only four in the system over a K per inning.

He finished fifth by allowing only 9.25 hits per nine innings and was 10th in WHIP (walks per hits per inning) with a 1.44 mark. Jacksonville was 12-11 in his 23 starts.

His record:
Justin A. Orenduff   br  tr  6-4  205
Born-May 27, 1983
Obtained-Selected first round of 2004 draft

year	team    w-l    era   gm   gs    in    h    bb   so    ave
2004	Ogden   2-3   4.74   13   10   43.2   46   25   57   .272
2005	VBeach	5-3   2.24   12   12   60.1   35   26   81   .167		Jack		5-2   4.07   14   13   66.1   59   24   65   .241
2006	Jack		4-2   3.40   10   10   50.1   40   19   54   .217
2007	Jack		8-5   4.21   27   23  109.0  112   45  113   .265

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