Dodgers take U-turn on philosophy

Dodgers take U-turn on philosophy

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers veered from assistant general manager Logan White's typical Draft strategy by taking more hitters than pitchers early and more college players than high school players overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

The Dodgers picked a fairly even draft by selecting 24 hitters and 21 pitchers, but 10 of the team's first 16 picks were hitters, a twist from White's typical emphasis on pitching. The team also selected the same number of outfielder and infielders, 11 each, to go with two catchers.

"This year you've kind of got to go with what the Draft gives," said White, who was "ecstatic" about the outcome. "You look at the history we've have had. Quite a few pitchers come up and make the big leagues from the Draft. We've always liked to take a balance, but I think this year the Draft gave us a few more hitters."

Los Angeles favored college players over high schoolers, with 26 picks attending college and 19 coming straight from high school, although 13 of the 21 pitchers came from high school. This trend was particularly apparent early with Los Angeles selecting eight straight college prospects after taking high school pitcher Ethan Martin in the first round.

"I also felt like that's where stronger talent was," said White, adding the team especially looked for collegiate power hitters.

The Dodgers picked a number of players who have been selected before, including pitcher Allen St. Clair (seventh round this year, seventh last year), outfielder Nick Buss (eighth this year, 35th to the Dodgers last year), outfielder Lenell McGee (13th this year, 26th round in 2006) and pitcher Jonathan Runnels (29th this year, 29th last year), whose grandfather Pete Runnels enjoyed a 14-year Major League career.

Los Angeles also drafted shortstop Devaris Strange-Gordon (fourth round), the son of 20-year Major League reliever Tom Gordon, third baseman Austin Yount (12th), the nephew of Hall of Famer Robin Yount, and Brian Ruggiano (23rd), the brother of former Dodgers farmhand and current Ray Justin Ruggiano.

Of the high school players, pitcher Christopher Joyce (10th round) has signed with UC Santa Barbara, pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (11th) has signed with Texas A&M and underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in high school, pitcher Daniel Coulombe (17th) has signed with USC, pitcher David Rollins (19th) has signed with Missouri, third baseman Zackary Cox (20th) has signed with Arkansas, pitcher Cody Weiss (26th) has signed with LaSalle and pitcher Matthew Magill (31t)] has signed with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

"We've got some high school picks who down the line ... project into pretty good players," White said.

Dodgers' top five selections
Pick
POS
Name
School
15.RHPEthan MartinStephens Co. School (Ga.)
61.RHPJoshua LindblomPurdue U
93.RFKyle RussellU of Texas Austin
127.SSDevaris Strange-GordonSeminole CC
157.RHPJonMichael ReddingFlorida CC
Complete Dodgers Draft results >

Meanwhile, the Dodgers selected high school outfielder Melvin Ray in the 33rd round although he has a football scholarship to Alabama. The football recruiting Web site Rivals.com ranks Ray as the 18th-best wide receiver in the class of 2008.

White said Ray enjoys both football and baseball, although the Dodgers official noted the team drafted him aware that his football interests are "very strong."

"He's an athlete -- we always like to get quality athletes," White said. "We'll let him play out this summer and just kind of go from there. We just want in advance to recognize the type of player he is."

Although it wasn't a typical Dodgers Draft, the team restocked its entire system while focusing mainly on collegians and hitters earlier on. For that, White could not have been happier after flying home to Phoenix at the conclusion of the Draft.

"We're thrilled," he said. "Of course every year we're going to at least say we're happy, but I really feel strongly that this Draft is really good. I think we're going to look back in a few years and say it's probably going to compare [among our] best."

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.