Logan White Likes the Class of 2009

Dodgers Assistant GM, Scouting Logan White disagrees with the experts who say that 2009 draft selections were short on talent down the line. He talked to LADugout the club's first 15 choices after the rapid-fire selection process ended and was of the opinion that this group could turn out to be on of the best in his years with Los Angeles.

"When you can get kids like Miller and Smith and Gould -- you know, they were all potential first-round picks, and we're exited about them, as well as the Wallach kid who can flat-out pitch." White said.

"And along with Songo and Wise, we're going to put some power back in the system." The thinking might be that the talent is down in the first round, but I think we got a great bunch of kids." At press time the following players have signed by round: #4 Songo, #6 Vazquez, #8 Garcia, #10 Suiter, #12 Cavazos-Galves, #13 Paxton, #14 Grider, #16 Pericht, #17 Ames, #18 Wilborn, #19 Akins, #21 Henderson, #22 Banks, #23 Marshall, #28 Hernandez, #30 Gaudi, #31 King, #32 Miller, #33 Cilladi, #34 Dignelli, #35 Iden, #36 Childs and #41 Handke have signed.

White went down the line for us, providing a bit of background on each of the first 15 or so selections and why they were interested in each of them. The players are listed in the order they were drafted by the Dodgers, not in the specific round.

LHP AARON MILLER (#1). A 6-3, 200 pounder from Baylor who bats and throws left-handed, he is a two-way player, much like a reverse James Loney, who can both pitch hit well but the Dodgers want him on the mound. "He hit 90-94 on the gun and has a curve and a slider in the 83 mph range. We're very happy he was still around when we got to our selection. He's a fresh arm having not pitched since high school." White said. "When we look back, we're going to say 'what a great deal we got with that sandwich pick.' "

OF BLAKE SMITH (#2). While Smith, a Junior at Cal Berkley, hits 97 on the gun, White feels he will make a power hitting corner outfielder. He was highly touted as a hitter and a pitcher. Just like Loney, he has a really nice left-handed swing and he's a power guy; he's got incredible raw power. When he worked out, he almost hit one out of Dodger Stadium -- way up in the seats. He can throw and if we can work with him to utilize that raw power, he'll be a front-line corner outfielder."

RHP GARETT GOULD (#3). Gould, the Kansas 6-A pitcher of the year in 2008, has a full ride to Wichita State in his pocket and could be a tough sign. "He was projected to go in the first round but I think many were scared away because he was going to Wichita State. We just rolled the dice to hope we can sign him. He was projected as a first rounder and there is no question he has that sort of talent. He's a big kid, physical, athletic, throws 90-94 with sink and in my opinion he has the best breaking ball in the draft. It's a power curve, 79 to 82, it's a downer and it's tough on any hitter to get a bat on.

"We think we have a chance to sign him because he knows of all the young pitchers -- Billingsley, Kershaw, McDonald, Broxton and all the other kids who have come through the system -- and it is an easy thing for me to go into his house and talk to his parents and tell them 'If you want your son to be a big leaguer, it was a blessing to you that he was drafted by the Dodgers and that he has a better chance with us than anyplace else."

RHP BRETT WALLCH (#4). Wallach is the son of former Dodger Tim Wallach (1993-96) and current AAA Albuquerque manager in the Dodgers system and is also the brother of Great Lakes catcher Matt Wallach. But that didn't make a difference to White. "To be honest, if his name was Jones or Jenkins, we'd still be excited to get him. Having his father and his brother in the organization had no effect at all on us drafting him. This kid is lean and lanky and has excellent arm action and an excellent delivery on the mound. He's a good hitter too, and Tom Lasorda thinks he should be a position player, but Wallach loves to pitch. He's got a Hershiser-type sinker and a hard slider, changes speeds well and good mound presence. This kid is going to move very quickly.

OF MARIO SONGCO (#5). The Dodgers went for power on their fifth selection, picking outfielder Angelo Songco out of Loyola Marymount. "The kids got an easy swing, sort of like Rafael Palmero. He has the same easy swing that just flows and results in power. He has to adjust to left-handed pitching a little better but we project him to be a fine corner outfielder. When we put him in the same bunch as Lambo and Russell and Smith and some of the other guys we will have some nice looking strokes coming up from the left side."

C JEREMY WISE (#6). The Big 12 Player of the Year, Wise finished the year ranked in the top five of six offensive categories in the Big 12. "Everyone was shocked that the Dodgers took a college senior in the top five rounds but I really liked him," White said with a laugh.

"I saw him play when (Aaron) Miller was pitching (for Baylor) against Oklahoma. He reminds you of AJ Ellis as a defender and the kid is really a good hitter. He stays inside the baseball, he hits to all fields and he's got good power. I think he will develop into a power hitting catcher at the major league level. He plays hard and he is a gamer. We needed to get some catching depth in the system and he will definitely help.

"We saw he had good stats and that some clubs put more stock in them than we do, but we also knew we had to get him off the board as soon as we could to get him. Many colleges have catchers who can catch and throw but not hit, or hitters that can't throw at all. We don't see why he isn't in Double-A pretty quick."

C JAN VASQUEZ (#7). Vasquez was the second catcher was added to the 2009 class when Jan Vazquez was taken from Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School. The 17-year-old switch-hitter is 5-10 and weighs 165 pounds but has the size body that will gain strength as he matures. "This kid is a real athlete. He switch hits, can run really well, shifts, blocks, has perfect size for a catcher. If we don't need him behind the plate, he could play second base because he can really hit from both sides of the plate."

RHP BRANDON HERNANDEZ (#8). At Fowler High School in California he led the West Sequoia League by allowing a .124 batting average and striking out 85 in 45 innings. "This kid is skinny as rail but I'll tell you he has an outstanding delivery, throws hard and has a fine breaking ball. We'll have to put a little weight on him. He could turn into a really fine pitcher over time."

OF JOHN GARCIA (#9). A 5-11 outfielder from Luis Munoz Marin High School. He projects as a outfielder; he's athletic, an above average runner. He's a little raw right now but if he can utilize his talents we will have a pretty good player."

SS BRYANT MARTINEZ (#10)/ The Dodgers dipped into the University of Oklahoma again and selected shortstop Bryant Hernanez, a 5-9. 170-pound switch-hitting sparkplug who was born in Oxnard, Calif. "We saw him and liked him while we were looking at Wise. Here is a kid that had good numbers, could hit in the middle of the night, could play short or second and he's a sure-handed fielder with some pop in his bat. We could also turn him into a catcher down the road. He's a grinder, sort of like David Eckstein although he's bigger. He knows how to play the game, though."

LHP ANDY SUITER (#11). "This kid has a really good arm. He's throwing 94 now and has a good change and a good curve ball. The question is getting him to command the strike zone. When he was a starter he wasn't very successful but when they moved him into the bullpen he had good success.

"We're going to start him and if he has trouble we'll move him into relief and we feel he will be very good. We think we have a great find this late in the process. We can see no reason he can't throw strikes, maybe he just likes relief better. If we get another Brent Leach, that will be great."

1B CONNOR POWERS (#12). After two at third baseman, Powers moved across the diamond and started at first base. A .315 career hitter, Powers tied for fifth in the SEC with 19 home runs and in three seasons totaled had a total of 38."This kid has big power, with a little lift in his swing, and is a high strikeout guy but he can hit them as a far as anyone. He's a good first baseman and we might give him try at third or move him to the outfield since he is versatile. We were looking for some more power and think he is the guy."

"I like guys like this that give clubhouse guys problems when they put their names on the lockers and the back of uniforms, and writers who have to fit their names into box scores," White said laughingly. "I think he is some relation to Mariano Duncan. He put up good numbers as a senior and is a guy that will drive in runs. His swing is a bit unorthodox but you can't argue with that because he has put up good numbers everywhere he has been. He can play either corner and throws good."

RHP JOE PAXTON (#14). "He knows how to pitch and he's been successful. He's a big physical kid and a converted catcher but he has an above average fastball. [Scout] Marty Lamb really likes him."

SS CASIO GRIDER (#15). "He's a senior, a tools kind of guy and he is quick, he can run a 6.5 60, has an above average arms and quick hands. He may be a bit raw at the plate right now and is sort of unorthodox right now but he is very athletic and has had success and I think he will be a good player."

#16 3b JEFFREY HUNT. "He can really swing the bat. We are going to follow him this summer and see how he does in tournament coming up. He's got a good left-handed stroke."

#17 C MICHAEL PERICHT. "A big physical guy with great makeup. Although he is 6-5 and 230, it is all muscle. He can catch and throw and hit with power. We don't know if he can hit for average but we might wind up with a David Ross here. He could hit 20+ homers in the future."

#18 RHP STEVEN AMES. "He has a feel for pitching. Nothing off the charts but he's got three good pitches and we're going to give him every opportunity to make good."

White also mentioned a pair of high school players chosen later in the draft, including Chad Kettler from Coppell HS in Texas and Richard Shaffer from Providence HS in North Carolina, that he is keeping an eye on.

"We may not be able to sign Kettler because he's got a scholarship to Oklahoma." White said. "He's a switch-hitting infielder and I think he has the potential to be a high-round draft pick in three years. He has a very high ceiling.

"Shaffer's got a scholarship to Clemson, I think. He was a potential first rounder but he broke a hamate bone in his hand. After surgery he only played the last couple of weeks so he was hard to evaluate. We are going to keep watching him this summer."

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