LA's system figures to make rich richer

LA's system to make rich richer

While there might be consternation about the Dodgers' inability to make it past the National League playoffs and into the World Series, the still-admirable accomplishment of making it to the postseason two seasons in a row rests largely on the shoulders of a young, homegrown nucleus.


NL East
ATL | FLA | NYM | PHI | WAS

AL East
BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR

NL Central
CHC | CIN | HOU | MIL | PIT | STL

AL Central
CHW | CLE | DET | KC | MIN

NL West
ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF

AL West
LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX

Players like Matt Kemp, James Loney and Russell Martin are all original Dodgers and aren't going anywhere anytime soon. That offense, of course, is backed up by the scouted, signed and developed power arms of the pitching staff like Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Broxton.

Not wanting to sound greedy, the question always is who's next on the horizon. The answer contains some of what's become a Dodgers favorite in recent years along with a bit of a departure from what's been done in the past. Though that might seem oppositional, there is a common thread: speed and playing with a more attacking style.

"We're trying to be more aggressive in how we try to play the game," Dodgers farm director De Jon Watson said. "We're trying to have our pitchers be more aggressive within the strike zone."

Pitchers with arm strength are not a new commodity in this system. The trio mentioned above is proof of that. But there's plenty more coming at various stages of the system. From the 2008 Draft, there's Ethan Martin and Allen Webster. Lefty Aaron Miller was added in the 2009 Draft. Javy Guerra and Kenly Jansen, a converted catcher, are both relievers added to the 40-man roster. Down in rookie ball are arms like Rubby De La Rosa. All are capable of cranking it up to 93-98 mph.

The mound isn't the only place, though, the Dodgers are playing with speed. There was a new commitment to being equally aggressive on the bases. Shortstop Dee Gordon led the organization and was second overall in the Minors with 73 stolen bases. Trayvon Robinson, recently added to the 40-man roster, swiped 47. In the previous four years, the Dodgers' system had a grand total of one player to top 40 steals (Todd Donovan had 65 in 2005). With Eilan Herrera's 43 steals, the Dodgers had three this season alone.

"For us, it was a baserunning thing," Watson said, meaning there was a concerted effort system-wide to improve that part of the game. "You look at our stolen-base numbers, they started making an impact on the basepaths."

They know that speed can't be taught. But it can be scouted, drafted and/or signed and developed. The Dodgers are doing just that on both sides of the ball, and who knows, maybe that's exactly what will get Los Angeles over that hump and into the promised land of the World Series.

ORGANIZATIONAL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

MLB.com's Preseason Picks

Andrew Lambo, OF: After starting to click in 2008, this past season looked like a breakout year for the outfielder, where it was predicted he'd lead the organization in homers and RBIs. Not quite. Playing most of the year at age 21 in Double-A, Lambo hit .256/.311/.407 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs.

Josh Lindblom, RHP: The prediction was correct that the 2008 second-rounder would continue to show that he was close to big league ready. But it looks like it will be as a reliever. A closer in college, Lindblom spent much of the year starting, but he moved to the 'pen full-time at Triple-A Albuquerque and posted a 1.65 ERA in 17 games in that role. Overall, he went 6-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 96 1/3 innings.

MLB.com's Postseason Selections

Dee Gordon, SS: This award could have gone in any of a number of ways. Kyle Russell's power (26 HR, 102 RBIs) caught some attention. Robinson did a little bit of everything, though he struggled when he moved from hitting-friendly Inland Empire to Chattanooga. Gordon was more of a pure speed, top-of-the-order type and won Midwest League MVP honors by hitting .301 with 73 steals at age 21, giving him a slight edge.

Scott Elbert, LHP: Whether he is a starter or reliever long-term remains to be seen, but he made it through the 2009 season largely as a starter in the Minors at two levels while helping the big league club out in a relief role. He tossed 96 Minor League innings and finished with a 3.84 ERA. He's still got nasty stuff, as evidenced by his 125 K's -- good for fourth in the organization -- and his impressive 11.7 K/9 ratio.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.