By Jon Weisman
In this video clip, Vin Scully talks about how new Dodger outfielder Will Venable is using an actual old glove of Dave Roberts from 2005, seen above.
Here are some more notes and news from the past week …
- Cali Ann’s getting a sibling. Clayton and Ellen Kershaw have a second baby on the way, due in November. Andy McCullough of the Times has the news in this Father’s Day-themed interview with Kershaw, which talks at length about the softening effect parenthood has had on the Dodger ace.
- Monday’s nationally televised series-opener (ESPN) against the Washington Nationals figures to match Stephen Strasburg (2.90 ERA) against Clayton Kershaw (1.58 ERA). I’m not into win-loss records, but even a cynic like me about them finds it a little glamorous that the two pitchers are a combined 20-1. Reminder: Strasburg is four months and one day younger than Kershaw.
- The Dodgers officially announced the signing of the following draft picks: shortstop Errol Robinson (sixth round), right-hander Andre Scrubb (eighth round), right-hander Dean Kremer (14th round), outfielder Darien Tubbs (16th round), third basemen Brock Carpenter (20th round), right-hander Jeff Paschke (22nd round), second baseman Brandon Montgomery (26th round) and catcher Steve Berman (31st round).
- Ross Stripling gave a progress report to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com regarding his current hiatus from game action.
- Chad Billingsley said he hasn’t given up, but the former Dodger right-hander, who hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch in 11 months, told Bruce Hefflinger of the Defiance Crescent-News (his hometown newspaper) that it was “most likely” that his career was over.
- Scott Radinsky, the one-time Dodger reliever who is the Angels’ bullpen coach, is thankfully recovering from April open-heart surgery after a big scare.
- Former Dodger catcher Tim Federowicz was designated for assignment by the Cubs.
By Cary Osborne
The Dodgers completed the 40-round 2016 MLB Draft on Saturday with rounds 11 through 40.
Notables on Day 3 were 11th-rounder and Pennsylvania high school right-hander A.J. Alexy (rated as the No. 327 draft-eligible prospect by Baseball America) and 12th-rounder and Alabama high school right-hander Graham Ashcraft (rated No. 175 by Baseball America).
Ashcraft reportedly was throwing in the mid-90s last summer and is committed to Mississippi State. Alexy is committed to Radford University in Virginia.
“We felt like our talent in rounds 11 through 20 was really good,” said Dodgers director of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino. “(Alexy’s and Ashcraft’s) talent level obviously fit much higher than the 11th and 12th round. Any time you feel like you get that kind of talent level at that round you’re excited. These are two guys who have bright futures and upside. Knock on wood if we can get them signed. They’d be great adds to the organization.”
By Jon Weisman
As the Dodgers completed the first 10 rounds of the 2016 MLB draft, some fans scratched their heads over the selection of three shortstops, considering that the team has a 22-year-old future All-Star at the position.
But in discussing the Dodgers’ selections today, director of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino explained the thinking — and no, it’s not that the Dodgers have forgotten about Corey Seager.
“The theory is that looking throughout the history of the draft and how athletes develop and age, when they’re athletic enough to play shortstop, it’s a pretty good recipe — as they age and get older and their skills develop and their bodies go forward or backwards — they can usually play other positions,” Gasparino said. “So many players today who are left fielders or right fielders, third basemen, second basemen, started out as shortstops. If you can start there, it’s a lot easier to transition to other places on the field, and gives you more avenues of versatility that way.”
In other words, this isn’t the NBA. With development such a long, protracted process in baseball — and almost no such thing as a quick fix — the overwhelming tendency is to take the player with the greatest potential, regardless of what the current Major League roster looks like. If the worst-case scenario is the Dodgers have multiple quality shortstops, they’ll live with that.
Gasparino also said that the drafting of several players from smaller four-year or community colleges illustrates an attempt to find value within a draft landscape where so few rocks go unturned.
“The depth of the draft is a priority and something we preach,” he said, “so in many ways it leads you to go look for those players, and you kind of think you have value there, whereas (for example) the junior center fielder from the University of Georgia has been well seen.”
Though players at different levels — or even at the same level but from different regions — obviously don’t face the same level of competition, the Dodgers are confident in their ability to translate performance.
“That’s why we have the tool grades, and you just look at the physical tools,” Gasparino said. “And I think our analytical staff does a very good job of analyzing the numbers and trying to correlate different levels of competition with a lot of different factors. And just our scouts’ experience: We have a lot of experience on the staff, and they seem to have a very good knack of trying to cipher through that stuff and figure out who the better players are.”
Gasparino said that advanced scouting stats such as exit velocity and spin rate have migrated to the Division I colleges and high-school summer showcases, further enhancing their ability to evaluate.
And with that, here are quick thoughts from Gasparino on each of the Dodgers’ draft picks today:
By Jon Weisman
Left-handed pitcher Devin Smeltzer was the Dodgers’ fifth-round selection in the 2016 MLB draft.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder from Voorhees, New Jersey was previously drafted by the Padres in the 33rd round in 2014. A former top-100 prospect of Baseball America, he instead attended Florida Gulf Coast University, before transfering to San Jacinto College in Texas to accelerate his path to the pros, according to Dana Caldwell of the Naples Daily News.
He had a 1.18 ERA and 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings with SJC this year, finishing his season with a 20-strikeout two-hitter, in which he threw 140 pitches.
This figures to be the final 2016 draft pick we’ll do an individual post on. We’ll round up the rest of the Day 2 selections later today — in the meantime, follow the action at MLB.com’s Draft Tracker.
With their fourth-round pick and the 131st taken overall in the MLB draft, the Dodgers selected their second 6-foot-6 player in a row: 20-year-old right-handed outfielder D.J. Peters, from Glendora High School by way of Western Nevada Community College.
Peters had a .519 on-base percentage and .734 slugging percentage in 2016 for the Wildcats, with 31 extra-base hits and 34 walks compared with 33 strikeouts. For context, his .419 batting average and 16 home runs in 2016 set school records. (He also had a 1.35 ERA in 6 2/3 innings)
By Jon Weisman
Kicking off their selections in today’s second day of the MLB Draft, the Dodgers used their third-round pick (101st overall) on right-handed pitcher Dustin May from Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.
May, who turns 19 in September, checks in at 6-foot-6, 180 pounds. Here’s the MLB.com scouting report on him:
By Cary Osborne
After the first day of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Dodgers’ first pick (No. 20 overall) Gavin Lux and Dodgers director of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino gave their thoughts.
Lux, a high school shortstop from Wisconsin committed to Arizona State, said he wants to start his professional career now. He also revealed some Dodger connections to A.J. Ellis and Chase Utley.
Gasparino gave some more insight on the four players selected on Thursday — Lux, University of Louisville catcher Will Smith (32nd overall), Vanderbilt right-hander Jordan Sheffield (36th overall) and Santa Clara right-hander Mitchell White (second round, 65th overall).
By Cary Osborne
The Dodgers completed one of the busiest first days in their draft history on Thursday by selecting Santa Clara University right-hander Mitchell White in the second round — 65th overall.
White was not rated among MLB.com’s top 200 draft eligible players. Baseball America had him at No. 138.
He redshirted his true freshman year in 2014 after having Tommy John surgery in 2013. As a redshirt sophomore in 2016, he had a 3.72 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 118 strikeouts in 92 innings. On May 14, he struck out 15 batters and allowed one run in a complete game against the University of Portland.
The Dodgers previously selected Wisconsin prep shortstop Gavin Lux with the 20th pick, University of Louisville catcher Will Smith 32nd and Vanderbilt right-hander Jordan Sheffield 36th on Thursday. Sheffield also had Tommy John surgery in 2013.
By Cary Osborne
For the second straight season, the Dodgers have selected a Vanderbilt pitcher in the first round of the MLB Draft.
Right-handed pitcher Jordan Sheffield, who was a teammate of 2015 first-rounder Walker Buehler, was selected 36th overall on Thursday.
The Tennessee native is an exciting pick at 36. Scouts rate his fastball as plus. He was a top prep player in Tennessee prior to committing to Vanderbilt. In 2013, MLB.com had him ranked as the No. 47 draft prospect prior to the announcement that he would need Tommy John surgery. The Boston Red Sox still drafted him in the 13th round that year, but he opted not to sign.
In 2016, the redshirt sophomore had a 3.01 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and struck out 113 batters to 40 walks in 101 2/3 innings.
His brother Justus was the 31st overall pick in the 2015 Draft by the Cleveland Indians. Justus is rated by MLB.com as the No. 98 prospect in the game.
By Cary Osborne
The Dodgers took University of Louisville catcher Will Smith with the No. 32 overall selection — the Zack Greinke compensation pick — in the 2016 MLB Draft on Thursday.
It’s the first time the Dodgers have drafted a catcher in the first round since 1994, when they took Paul Konerko — who later became a six-time All-Star at first base.
Smith batted .380/.476/.573 with seven home runs for Louisville in 2016. He also threw out 12 of 15 basestealers.