Minor League Report: Extra camp
Tomorrow's stars get look as veterans vie for spots in bigs
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Farm director De Jon Watson invited 32 prospects to the Dodgers' early Minor League camp, which opened the same day as Major League position players reported.
The group consisted of:
Pitchers James Adkins, Brian Akin, Marlon Arias, Robert Booth, Jesus Castillo, Javy Guerra, Clayton Kershaw, Jacobo Meque, Miguel Pinango, Tim Sexton, Eduardo Sierra, Kyle Smith, Josh Wall and Cody White.
Catchers Alex Garabedian, Kenley Jansen, Jesse Mier, Carlos Santana and Matt Wallach.
Infielders Josh Bell, Ivan DeJesus, Blake Dewitt, Kevin Howard, Franklin Jacobs, Francisco Lizarraga, Preston Mattingly and Russ Mitchell.
And outfielders Jaime Hoffman, Andrew Lambo, Exavier Logan, Anthony Raglani and Trayvon Robinson.
"It's an opportunity to get the pitchers in early and get up their pitch counts and a chance to address some things we might have started working on in instructional league at the end of last season," said Watson, starting his second season in charge of the farm system with the new title of assistant general manager.
No Kershaw, no Elbert: In the eyes of some observers, the Dodgers were guilty of trying to rush promising young pitchers Edwin Jackson and Greg Miller.
It doesn't look like they'll be accused of that with Kershaw or Scott Elbert.
Kershaw, acclaimed to be the organization's top prospect at just age 19, was not one of 35 pitchers at Major League Spring camp, instead being invited to early Minor League camp. Elbert, returning slowly from shoulder surgery that sidelined him for most of 2007, was not one of 14 pitchers invited to the organization's early Minor League camp.
The club instead stockpiled Major League and Minor League veteran pitchers from which to choose and it didn't have the innings to give regular work to younger prospects.
However, manager Joe Torre said he expected to see Kershaw throw a bullpen session or pitch in a Major League exhibition game before training camp breaks.
Light-tower power: One player the organization is eager to see develop is Franklin Jacobs, a right-handed hitting first baseman from North Carolina. He's 19, 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds and, according to assistant general manager Logan White, "has ungodly power."
Jacobs was a 17th-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft who gave up football and basketball to pursue a professional baseball career. He hit .250 with two homers in 96 at-bats last year in the Gulf Coast League.
Moses arrives: Don Mattingly's late withdrawal as Major League hitting coach had a ripple effect on the Minor League staff.
Only days before the Minor League camp opened, former Major Leaguer John Moses was hired as the batting coach at Triple-A Las Vegas, replacing Mike Easler, who was promoted to replace Mattingly as Major League hitting coach.
Moses knows how to be in the right place at the right time. He began last year as the Seattle Mariners' left-handed batting-practice pitcher, but the resignation of manager Mike Hargrove triggered a chain of events that made Moses the interim first-base and outfield coach.
He rejoins Jim Slaton, who was Seattle's Major League bullpen coach last year and will be the pitching coach for Las Vegas this year.
They're No. 1: Chris Withrow, taken in the first round last year and signed for $1.35 million, was not invited to the Minor League camp. The organization decided not to rush Withrow, who pitched only nine innings over four starts for the Dodgers' Gulf Coast League rookie team. He is believed to be not as refined as Kershaw was at that stage in his career, and Withrow's frame will still likely fill out.
Class of '07: Tim Sexton is the lowest selection from last year's First-Year Player Draft to be invited to the Minor League camp, but that's not a reflection on his ability. He's a tall (6-foot-6), skinny (190 pounds) 20-year-old right-handed pitcher and honor student who transferred from George Washington University to Miami Dade City College South and was taken in the 25th round, having fallen because of signability issues. The Dodgers signed him for a reported $123,000, sixth-round money.
What they're saying: "They told me I'm going back to starting, and that's what I'm prepared to do. But if they need me to relieve and it gets me to the Major Leagues, I'm happy to do it. Whatever I can do to get there and help." -- Jon Meloan, who made his Major League debut last year as a reliever
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.