GM Logan White is Pleased With Draft

Dodgers' Scouting Guru Logan White said "This draft is going to be one our our better ones," in an interview. He also pointed out that he is sticking to his "Best Player Available" draft plan in his eighth season at the controls.

"Some years ago, in 2002 and 2003, when Money Ball was at it's peak, a lot of teams were going for college players and staying away from high school players, particularly right handed pitchers," he said. "We determined to select the best player available, with the higher ceiling, and that turned out to be those out of high school.

"Fast-forward to 2008 and due to teams having success with the high school players, not only the Dodgers, other teams may have thought 'We better not ignore that talent pool', and were drafting high school players.

"You have try to stay ahead of he trend and then it just comes down to who we think is the best kid available, college or high school."

He noted that a number of teams who had mostly avoided high school players in the past were taking them this year.

"So that opened the door for us and with more college players available, we were able to get eight of them in the first 10 rounds. Many have thought that we had changed our philosophy, but that wasn't the case.

"You just have to take what the draft gives you."

He said there seems to be the vision that high school players were "raw" or not as "polished", but we haven't found that to be true, it's just a stereotype.

"When we took Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton, James Loney, Blake DeWitt and Clayton Kershaw, and others, most of those guys got to the Major Leagues quicker than many of the college players drafted about the same time. Particularly where we're picking in the draft.

"Obviously, when you are picking in the later rounds, you have to give credit to the other teams because they know what they are doing and for the most part the bigger names on the college lists are not available to you.

"So picking in the 15th round and later, you have to pay more attention to the high school pool. Having said that, you have to look for players who have the ability to move up fast and compete their talent level is so high."

He said that in the case of Billingsley and Broxton, they both could throw hard when the Dodgers drafted them and had quality breaking pitches right away. "They were obviously more polished and were going to move up faster than many of the college players available to us at the time."

"Of course, there is no question it is tougher to scout high school kids and identify their talents. But there is another thing that is tough about high school players. When you check out a high school kid, the competition isn't as good and the facilities aren't the same as going to Texas and watching Kyle Russell play against Texas A&M in front of 4,000 fans."

He added that the Dodgers scouting staff has worked hard to not let that sort of thing effect them. "Having said that, we don't overlook any talent pool at any level," he concluded.

2008 Draft Class The Dodgers first selection was an outstanding pitcher, following the trend set over the recent years. "When you have a chance to get a player like #1 RHP Ethan Martin, you have to go for it. He is in the same class as Billingsley and Kershaw -- outstanding athletes. He's got a great delivery, good arm action, a plus fastball and plus curve. We're really excited about getting him."

Some have speculated that #2 RHP Josh Lindblom, Purdue was chosen as the successor to Broxton as setup man when Jonathan eventually becomes the closer. But that's not the case.

White-- "I've liked him while he was in high school but when he was available, we didn't have enough picks to get to him. As he turned out, we maybe should have liked him a little better. If you like six kids, and draft the first three 1-2-3, but then the other three you wanted have gone off the board to other teams.

"We've followed his college career. He's got a good arm, a power arm, and he hits 94-96 on the gun. What we want to do is pitch him out of the bullpen for a while and at some point, perhaps in instructional league, move him into a starting role.

"He's a big (6-5, 240) guy with a good delivery. You never know, he might move back into the bullpen. Broxton was drafted as a starter, then moved back very successfully. But we took him as a starter, not a setup man as some have thought."

#3 OF Kyle Russell. USC was chosen for his natural power.

White-- "Here's a guy that holds the Texas home run record. That's something when you think about all the home run hitters the program has had. He struggled early but finished strong.

"He's got quick hands, great power and, of course and the strikeouts to go with that. There are some things with his swing he is going to have to adjust but we have the people to help him with that.

"But he has that one tool -- power -- that is as good as anyone in the draft. You look for power hitters, power arms. You can't teach power, some have it and sometimes some develop it later. That was the knock on James Loney, not enough power but I've always said that when he is 26-27 he'll hit 30 home runs.

"Some just have God-given power and I think Russell is one of those.:

#4 SS Devaris Strange-Gordon, SE University, Florida flew under the radar and surprised a number of people by being chosen in the fourth round. The son of major league pitcher Tom Gordon, he's a high school kid that hasn't played that much.

White-- "We worked hard on this one. We kept really quite about him and there was only three or four other clubs that knew about him. He were worried that one of them would take him before we could.

"If he's not the fastest man in the draft, I'd be very surprised and wouldn't know who it would be. The guy ran a 6.35 60 and is automatically the fastest guy in the organization.

"He won't steal bases like Juan Pierre right away but eventually he'll be a real threat to do so. He's got soft hands and like his dad he has a good arm. He'll have learning pains because he hasn't played much.

"But the tools are there to be a special player for the Dodgers. He's a spray hitter and will show more power as he gets older. I think he is a late bloomer.

"All he has to do is put the ball in play and he'll get plenty of base hits."

#5 RHP JonMichael Redding, Florida Community College, the second pitcher selected, is what Logan calls "A Pitcher."

White-- "He isn't a power pitcher, although he hit 92-93 and has a good arm, good breaking ball and change. But he has command already and as far as I am concerned he is a pure pitcher, commanding all three of his Major League pitches.

"He worked some 130 innings and walked 25 or so. He has a real feel for the position."

#6 SS Anthony Delmonico, Florida State, who was injured in a super regional game with Wichita State, has had an MRI, mostly for the benefit of the Dodgers, and there is no damage to his ankle. All indications are that he will be ready to play in the College World Series,

White-- "He played shortstop when his dad was a coach at Tennessee and I love his blue collar ethics. He has a gamer mentality, knows his skills and knows how to use them.

"I think he will be a second baseman with a good bat, average range, above average skills and well-above average gamesmanship. We were impressed with his all-around skills that we think will take him to the Major Leagues.

"We want to pair him with Strange-Gordon at Ogden as a shortstop-second base tandem. He will be good for Devaris because the young kid has all the tools and Delmonico has been very well coached.

#7 LHP Allen St. Claire, Rice is White's sleeper in this draft. He had a serious arm injury but came back to pitch very well despite not having his previous velocity.

White-- "He seems to be over his injury and he's a gamer and a hard competitor. I watched him pitch in the Florida Super Regional and he was lights-out. A big, rangy guy (6-5, 225) and while he used to throw 95, he now throws 88-92 with a fastball that moves and a sinker that is hard to pick up.

"He may never throw 95 again, but I don't think that he needs to with his nasty stuff. He was a projected #1 pick at one time but the injury knocked him down.

"His ceiling is so high I had to take him and he may be the biggest bargain in the draft. He may move up very quickly and be in the Big Leagues before anybody."

#8 OF Nick Buss, USC is an excellent outfielder with all-around talent.

White-- "He a really good athlete, above average runner and outstanding defensive outfielder. Has surprising power and is going to hit some home runs and steal some bases. Can be a fine center fielder. We drafted him once before."

#9 1B Steve Caseres, James Madison has exceptional numbers but may be hard to sign.

White-- "I don't know if we can meet his high signing demands but his lefthanded swing was so sweet he has hard to pass up. He's got more power than Loney at the same age."

#10 LHP Chris Joyce, Dos Pueblos HS, CA was only the second high school pitcher to be taken, following #1 Ethan Martin.

White-- "He's another guy that we might have trouble signing. A projectable lefty with a good arm and a good change. With a little instruction he may be a bargain down the road. When we look back, we may not have selected him high enough. If we can sign him, it will be a real coup for us."

#11 RHP Nathan Eovaldi, Alvin HS, Texas bounced back very quickly from a T.J. operation and is the third H.S. pitcher picked.

White--"After recovering from surgery, he has really looked good with a 90-95 fastball and a breaking pitch that needs some work. He's committed to Texas A&M but we thought it was better to take a quality player and take a risk than take a lesser player."

12 3B Austin Yount, Stanford, the nephew of Hall of Famer Robin Yount, has been on White's list for a long time.

White-- "I've watched him from Little League through High School and I like the bloodlines. I know he played so many places and pitches so much (90 mph) he didn't get settled in to any one position in the field. We're going to play him at second base.

"And he and Delmonico are "target" guys that might be converted to catcher later. We are committed to doing this every year, taking a guy with a good arm and moving him behind the plate.

#13>OF Lenell McGee, Oakton CC, Illinois:

"An athletic outfielder. Runs well, plays good defense, good quick bat. He project him as a M.L. center fielder."

#14 OF Brenton Calfee, Angelo State, TX
White-- Growing into body (6-6, 215), had a good year at Angelo State. He played first base but we want to move him into the outfield. Great bat with some power and a strong arm."

#17 LHP Daniel Coulombe, Chaparral HS Arizona:"A very good lefthanded pitcher."

#18 RHP Carl Webster, McMichael S. SC.: "A shortstop converted to pitcher with a good arm."

#19 LHP David Rollins, 1st Baptist Academy, Texas: "Very projectable."

#13 RHP Matthew Mcgill, Royal HS, CA: "Not polished but has a good arm, fastball 89-91."

White also pointed out that #23 2B Brian Ruggiano, Texas A & M, taken in the 23rd round, is the brother of former Dodger minor leaguer Justin Ruggiano who played in the system after being picked in the 24th round in 2004, was traded later to Tampa Bay and is playing for the Rays.

"From a fine family," White said. "You look at their numbers and see that they hit .270 or so in college but then they hit .300 every year as a professional. The kids are both hard-workers."