Before he was postseason-bound: Clayton Kershaw

Before he was postseason-bound: Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers are headed to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, after winning the National League West. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of ace Clayton Kershaw.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP
Born: Dallas
DOB: 3/19/88
HS: Highland Park (Texas) High School
Minors: GCL Dodgers (R), Great Lakes (A), Jacksonville (AA)

Path to Los Angeles: Was selected by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2006 Draft. Made his big league debut in 2008 at age 20, when he was the youngest player in the Majors.

Trophy case: 2014 NL MVP, three-time NL Cy Young Award winner (2010, '13-14)

Famous feat(s): Threw his first career no-hitter on June 19, 2014, against the Rockies, becoming the only pitcher in baseball history to throw a no-no with at least 15 strikeouts and no walks.

You might not know: Kershaw essentially taught himself the slider in a bullpen session early in the 2009 season, his second in the Majors.

"He tried it in the bullpen at Wrigley Field and took it right into his next start," said former Dodger A.J. Ellis, who caught that breakthrough session. "That pitch took him from a really good pitcher to a great pitcher."

Six degrees of Willie Aikens: As a teenager in Dallas, Kershaw played on the same travel team as Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson and big league reliever Jordan Walden.

Role model: Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, have funded and helped construct an orphanage in Zambia. The Kershaws also founded Kershaw's Challenge, a charitable organization that encourages people to make a difference by giving back to at-risk children and communities in need. Kershaw became the youngest player to win the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award at age 24 in 2012.

"Winnings an award like this means more to me than any individual award I could ever achieve," he said.

First lesson: Kershaw blossomed during the offseason between his junior and senior year of high school working with Skip Johnson, a junior college coach who became pitching coach at the University of Texas. "I'm not the best pitching coach in the world. All I did was give him a structured plan to work on his mechanics," said Johnson, who still records all of Kershaw's starts. "Suddenly, he was throwing 94-96 [mph]. His aptitude and athleticism make him what he is. He has the ability to repeat his delivery, and he makes adjustments fast."

Said Kershaw: "Skip changed me from low three-quarters delivery to over the top. That helped me keep my weight back. That was actually the first real pitching lesson I ever had."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.