The Top 10 at the Halfway Mark

As the Minor League passes the All-Star break and turns for home, it is time to check the progress of the LADugout's Top 10 prospects. Two of them, #1 James McDonald and #10 Xavier Paul made it to the big club. #3 Ivan De Jesus was injured during spring training. The rest seem to be doing very well.

The 2009 Top 10:

 1. RHP James McDonald	 
 2. OF Andrew Lambo
 3. SS Ivan DeJesus	
 4. LHP Scott Elbert	
 5. RHP Chris Withrow	
 6. 3B Josh Bell	
 7. 3B Pedro Baez	
 8. RHP Josh Lindblom	
 9. RHP Steve Johnson	
10. OF Xavier Paul
#1 RHP James McDonald. McDonald, the Dodgers Pitcher of the Year the last two seasons, began the year as the fifth starter but struggled with his control and was returned to Albuquerque with a 6.75 ERA over 10 appearances. He found his old groove and since his return he has worked 5.2 innings, allowing two hits, one walk and has struck out six. He has a 1.61 ERA in his second time around in L.A. and earned his second victory of the year in relief against Colorado on June 29.

#2 OF Andrew Lambo. Lambo jumped into prominence in 2008 when he hit .33 doubles, 15 home runs and knocked in 79 for Great Lakes, and then jumped all the way to Jacksonville where he hit .389 over the final eight game of he season, all at the tender age of 19. He started at the save AA level at Chattanooga this season and has done well, hitting .266 with 24 doubles, seven homers and 27 runs batted in for a team that doesn't put many runners on base in front of him. His line: .272/.327/.435/.762 (average/on-base percentage/slugging/on-base + slugging). While he is no Brett Butler in the outfield, he is certainly much improved. He was 3-for-4 in the Southern League All-Star Game.

#3 SS Ivan De Jesus-- The Minor League Player of the Year broke his leg early in spring training sliding into home plate during an early morning "B" game. He underwent successful surgery on his broken left tibia and a rod was inserted with two screws for support. A full recovery was estimated to take take four months and it is possible he could play in the Arizona Fall League.

#5 RHP Chris Withrow-- The young (20-years-old) has pitched the entire year a Inland Empire in his first full professional season. He has a 5-6 record over 15 games, 12 starts, and has allowed 64 hits in 70.1 innings to go with a 37/88 walk to strikeout mark with 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings. All things considered, it is more than a solid debut.

# 6 3B Josh Bell-- After missing just under 100 games in 2008 due to surgery, he seems to be picking up his stroke again at Chattanooga and projects to 16 home runs and 78 RBI over the full season, on or over his career high. His line is .278/.368/.459/.827. The 22-year-old has awesome power but battles the strikeout bug and has cut down on his errors at third base but has a 2.49 Range Factor. He was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the Southern League All-Star Game, slugging a double and a home run plus sparkling in the field.

# 7 Pedro Baez.-- A year younger than Bell, Baez is closing the gap in the "best third baseman in the system" race. He projects to 18 home runs and 100 RBI and has a very similar line: .287/.332/.453/.786. He also has a small advantage in the field, sporting a 2.44 Range Factor with fewer errors.

#8 RHP Josh Lindblom.-- The young man certainly caught everyone's attention during spring training and there was some talk of keeping him on the roster when the club broke camp. After an abbreviated 2008 season, he is in his first full season and is doing very well, with a 4.84 ERA for Chattanooga and Albuquerque, 66 hits in 671 innings and a fine 21/54 strikeout/walk record. He was just rewarded with a promotion to Albuquerque and could see action in The Show when rosters expand in the fall.

#9 RHP Steve Johnson. The 21-year-old got off to a slow start with Inland Empire but has caught a second wind and now has a 3.82 ERA, 94 hits in 96.2 innings and a 42/102 walk/strikeout ratio over 18 games, 16 of them starts. He is at 9.52 strikeouts per nine innings. Over his 10 most recent starts, he has a 5-2.

#10 OF Xavier Paul. Lit up the Albuquerque night with a .344 average over the first 25 games and was called up when Manny Ramirez was nailed for illegal drug use. The 24-year-old has battled physical problems and had his house blow away in Hurricane Katrina but battled through it all until the final bit of bad luck shut him down. While making a diving catch in the outfield, he skinned his knee. Apparently he also picked up a virus that was about to eat his leg up when discovered. He was hospitalized and is doing well now but can probably cross the 2009 season off as a bust. He got into 11 games and was 3-for-4 (.214) with a double, a homer and two runs batted in with the Dodgers before the infection.

MLB All-Star Notes
Orlando Hudson's stolen base in the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis was only the fifth by a Dodger since the games began in 1933. (Willie Mays had six in his career).

From 1933 through 1957, no Brooklyn Dodger had an All-Star stolen base to his credit. Maury Wills broke the string with a steal in 1962, followed by Steve Sax in 1983 and 1988, Shawn Green in 220 and the final one by Hudson. Davey Lopes (1978) and Sax (1982) were the only two who have been caught stealing.

What Recession? -- The average salary of a 2009 All-Star is $7,404,184, which is $410,917 less than the average New York Yankee makes, which is $7,748,046.

One Fans Opinion
And long-time Dodgers fan Roy Lieberman, had this to say about the game:

"To me Bud Selig's granting the winning league of the All-Star Game, an exhibition game, the home-field advantage in the World Series has to be one of the worst ideas and biggest turnoffs I've ever seen in my experience as a MLB fan.  

"The All-Star game was once a thrill populated with players that were known to virtually all fans. The likes of Clemente, Aaron, Mays, Snider, Gibson, Spahn, Campanella, Koufax, Drysdale, Kaline, Ford, Mantle, Berra.  

"I know I'm aging myself and I know that baseball has changed. Too many teams.  Too many players. Today, I see an All-Star game full of commercial hype and populated with players that I could not identify if I tried: Freddie Sanchez, Brad Hawpe, Hunter Pence, Zach Duke, Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist, Adam Jones, and Zach Greinke. All All-Stars and yet I, a fairly serious baseball fan, could not tell you who they are or for what team they play.  And those aren't the only so-called All-Stars that fit in that category for me.

"And, by the way, once upon a time, the arrival of the Dodgers to play in NY against the Mets was a big deal.  At the very least, it was a week-end series. Now, the Dodgers come once to NY, play three games in mid-week and depart, never to be seen again during the season unless they happen to be in a playoff together."

If you have an opinion about the All-Star game or anything else Dodgers, sound off to me at tot4@mac.com.

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