Dodger Prospect Preston Mattingly - #30

Continuing our series on the top 50 Dodger prospects as we count down to the very best. Player ratings will be published Monday through Friday each week. Today we highlight #30, 2B Preston Mattingly.

2B Preston Mattingly
6-3 205 BR TR
Born-August 28, 1987, Englewood, NJ
Selected in 19th round in 2005 draft

A funny thing happened on the way to the supplemental first round in the 2006 draft. The Boston Red Sox were poised to count coup on the hated New York Yankees by drafting Preston Mattingly, son of Yankee coach Don Mattingly. But the Dodgers swooped in and selected the young man, effectively derailing the Sox revenge.

Boston had been in contact with the young man at his home in Evansville, Indiana, to tell him they were going to pick him, since they had selection #40, one before the Yankees and they were smiling at the thought.

However, Dodgers scouting director Logan White also had his eyes on Mattingly himself and an had an additional ace up his sleeve, an earlier pick, #31 to be exact, and he used it leaving the two American League powers watching helplessly.

Mattingly told Bill Shelley the story of the phone calls as he prepared for practice with the Gulf Coast Dodgers in his rookie season. Asked if it felt strange, Mattingly replied, "Not really." Leave it for others to think that.

Mattingly, who played for Evansville, Ind. High, was selected as an first team infielder on the all-star squad. He hit .467 with three home runs in 39 RBI in 33 games there. He also stole 22 bases in 23 attempts. And he completed a clean sweep of all-state honors, being named in football and basketball as well as baseball.

One might think that the son of a Yankee coach would have spent his summers on a diamond but Preston's from Indiana where basketball is king but basketball rules in that state and Mattingly was very good, all-state in fact. He spent his summers at hoops camps or in leagues  when he wasn't visiting Dad in New York.

  Scout Marty Lamb spotted his potential early and scouting director Logan White agreed with his assessment and the decision was made. They fortunately had the initial selection in the supplemental portion of the 2006 draft and used it on Mattingly, thus beating three other teams that had planned on making the same move when their turn came. That included the Yankees where Don has been promoted to bench coach and is supposedly the heir apparent  to Joe Torre.

  Now, in a remarkable turn of events, Preston is a valued prospect in the Dodgers system, Torre is the Dodgers manager and papa Mattingly is the hitting coach and again rumored to be the one to replace Torre when he retires.

  With so little experience on the diamond, the Dodgers didn't expect all that much from Mattingly right away but he surprised them with his offensive output.

He was among the league leaders for some time until a coach decided to make a pull hitter of him and disturbed his swing. He abandoned that in time to finish at .290 with one home run and 29 runs batted in over 22 games for the Coasties.

  As you might expect, the pitchers were throwing him curves which he'll learn to lay off with more playing time. At best he's a line drive hitter who sprays the ball around, not one who should be gunning for the fences.

Baseball America rated him the 10th best prospect in the system. They also said he was the best athlete, best pure hitter, and fastest runner in the 2006 draft class. Baseball Prospectus said he was #7.

That was all heady stuff for a 19-year-old but 2007 was not kind. Midwest League pitching held him to a .210 average and a .251 on base percentage. He was switched from shortstop to second base to cut down on his errors, with and ugly 30 rung up over the season at Ogden.

He returned to the Loons again in 2008 and things started to fall into place for him. Over 82 games at shortstop he made only 12 errors and participated in 40 double plays. His range factor at second was a solid 4.28.

He's quick on the bases paths as well and finished in double numbers in stolen bases for the third season in a row. In his brief career he has stolen 33 bases and has been caught only 10 times for a sparkling .773 percentage.

Mattingly is still troubled by right-handed pitching, recording a .287 average against lefties and only .194 against righties. He hit .255 before the all-star break then faded, hitting only .121 over the final 10 games of the season and finished at .224. However he doubled his home run total of the previous two seasons with 6.

  His progression is probably better than could be expected although he well might spend another summer at Great Lakes.

His record:

Preston Michael Mattingly   br  tr  6-3  205
Born-August 28, 1987 in Englewood, IN
Obtained- Selected in supplemental first round 2006

year	team    ave   obp  gm   ab   r   h  2b 3b hr  bi  sb
2006	GCLg   .290  .322  47  186  22  54  12  3  1  29  12
2007	GLake  .210  .251 107  404  42  85  12  7  3  40  11
2008	GLake  .224  .263  93  335  37  75  14  3  6  24  11
 Totals        .231  .270  246 925 101 214  38 13 10  93  34