Dodgers likely to go pitching first in Draft
Last year's selection of shortstop rare exception from club practice
LOS ANGELES -- The $100 million renovation of Dodger Stadium featured cool HD video boards and an ear-numbing sound system, but also less obvious plumbing and electrical infrastructure equally important to make the venue hum.
In similar fashion, while new owners spent lavishly on marquee players attempting to quick-fix the roster, the long-term viability of the club depends on days like Draft Day.
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 3 p.m. PT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 4 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 9:30 a.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
For the second consecutive year, the Dodgers pick 18th overall. Last year, they veered from club custom of drafting pitching first by taking high school shortstop Corey Seager.
They are likely to revert back to form this year, not only because that's scouting chief Logan White's calling card, but it's also need-based. While gathering up Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto, the Dodgers depleted the system's pitching depth.
They dealt away Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Nathan Eovaldi, Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin, all pitchers that have reached the Major Leagues or are expected to soon for their new teams.
"We definitely dipped into that," said White. "I feel better about our current depth than one might suspect, but I always try to get pitching and that's not going to change. We'll still try to get the highest-ceiling guy."
White believes that having an ownership committed to development allows him to "be more aggressive with players lower in the Draft," pointing to last year's signings of Texas A&M pitcher Ross Stripling in the fifth round and Texas Tech pitcher Duke von Schamann in the 15th round.
"We're signing a lot of guys after the fourth round we couldn't have signed before," he said.
If White takes a position player with a high pick, like last year it will probably be a "premium shortstop" that can play the game on "both sides of the ball. Last year it fell perfect for us."
And with the success of Paco Rodriguez -- a second-round pick and the first player taken last year to reach the Major Leagues -- White is likely to try to duplicate that success by taking another polished college pitcher in the first few picks.
Here's a glance at what the Dodgers have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
White said this year's Draft "is not as deep in pitching as years past, but I've done this long enough to know that a player can drop. If it falls right, we can still get an outstanding draftee."
Beyond acknowledging his track record of drafting pitchers, mostly out of high school, White won't be pinned down on specific players he's targeting. But he almost always goes for high-ceiling arms, which is how he landed Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
White likes bloodlines, so Bryan Harvey's son, Hunter, a high school pitcher from North Carolina, might be on the radar. Ian Clarkin and Phil Bickford are a pair of California high school pitchers that fit and could still be on the board at No. 18. White loves two-sport stars like Kohl Stewart and two-way ballplayers like Braden Shipley, but they should be gone by the time the Dodgers pick. Same for high school lefty Trey Ball.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, in his latest mock Draft, projects the Dodgers taking Clarkin, a left-handed pitcher from James Madison High School in California. Mayo writes: "Toolsy junior-college shortstop Tim Anderson is a possibility, but we'll go with the high school arm after having Phil Bickford in this spot last time."
Dodgers' bonus pool
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Dodgers have $5,211,700 to spend on their first 10 picks, ranking 25th in MLB, with $2,109,900 designated for the first-round pick. While the team can afford to surpass its allotted pool, it will not hit the penalty threshold to lose a first-round pick.
Big league needs almost never influence the Dodgers' Draft, as their selection list usually begins and ends with pitching. If they did draft by need, run-producing infielders would top the list. They don't have a Major League-ready third baseman, Dee Gordon seems to have stalled at short and Seager is years away regardless at which of those positions he lands.
The Dodgers are about as transparent as they come with the Draft. Whatever their needs, they usually draft pitchers. Whatever is bountiful in a particular class, they usually draft pitchers. Whoever is owner of the club, they usually draft pitchers. Seager was only the second non-pitcher White has taken first in 11 years.
• Recent Draft History •
The best qualifier for this category (not named Puig) is right-handed pitcher Ross Stripling, drafted last year out of Texas A&M, who has already been promoted from Class A to Double-A this year and could help the Major League club soon.
Nick Punto was drafted in the 21st round in 1998 by Philadelphia, but the best homegrown Cinderella story for the Dodgers is A.J. Ellis, who was drafted in the 18th round in 2003 and spent five years strictly in the Minor Leagues, then another four years shuttling between Los Angeles and Triple-A before given a legitimate chance to start.
In The Show
From the current 25-man roster, Ellis (18th round in 2003), Javy Guerra (fourth round in 2004), Matt Kemp (sixth round in 2003), Kershaw (first round in 2006), Ted Lilly (23rd round in 1996) and Rodriguez (second round in 2012) were drafted by the Dodgers and developed by their Minor League system.
Dodgers' recent top picks
2012 -- Corey Seager, SS, Class A Great Lakes
2011 -- Chris Reed, LHP, Double-A Chattanooga
2010 -- Zach Lee, RHP, Double-A Chattanooga
2009 -- Aaron Miller, RHP (switched to OF), Class A Great Lakes
2008 -- Ethan Martin, RHP, Triple-A Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.