The draft is what separates the modern Dodgers from the hopeless Dodger teams of the late 90s and the first half of the 21st century. Two hugely successful drafts by Logan White in 2002 and 2003 supplied the Dodgers with almost all the young talent we have today, and he's the reason I actually have hope for the future. This year, however, things changed. Instead of taking talented high schoolers, the Dodgers grabbed a bunch of low ceiling guys from Florida colleges, which seems like a rather radical shift in philosophy. Look at the first five picks from this years draft:
Ethan Martin - Seems like a traditional Logan White pick, so that's fine by me. I'm all for grabbing any high school pitcher that has two plus pitches, and he can convert to the field if the pitching thing doesn't work out for him.
Jonathan Lindblom - I really don't like taking college relievers early, since their ceiling is so low. The best case scenario is that Lindblom become Huston Street, and while that's nice, he's only a really valuable player in his pre arbitration years. At the very least, Lindblom throws gas, he's been clocked as high as 97 and his fastball has movement, so this could have been a need draft. With Jonathan Meloan moving to a starting role, Lindblom could be fast tracked to the majors to take over the setup role once Jonathan Broxton becomes a closer. Still, I don't like the idea that Lindblom could easily become a replaceable middle reliever. You don't draft relievers, you draft starters, then move them to the pen so you at least have some options. None of the members of the Dodgers bullpen were drafted as relievers, they were starters who got converted to relief. If Lindblom doesn't work out in the bullpen, there's nowhere he can go. Maybe it's just because of a thin draft class that he was a second round pick, but taking someone like this seems to be a waste.
Kyle Russell - Russell put up gonzo stats for Texas this year, hitting .296/.432/.655 for the Longhorns with a nation leading 28 home runs. Unfortunately, he managed to strike out once every 3.38 plate appearances, which makes me really down on this pick. If you're putting up numbers like that in the bigs, that's fine, you're a great player. However, at lower levels strikeouts are huge. They represent an inability to recognize pitches which will kill you when you move up a level and pitchers have nastier stuff. If you look at every really hyped prospect who has failed, you'll find that most of them had huge strikeout totals in the minors. The only thing that can really offset this is rapid improvement, like Ryan Howard made, or godly patience, like Jack Cust. Unless he figures out how to fix what is described as a "grooved swing", Russell's ceiling is already set at Jack Cust, and it's bad when your best case scenario is a freak who has no real comparable. Russell's most likely scenario is Billy Ashley. He'll probably put up great numbers in the minors, then big league pitching will eat him alive. If you haven't figured out how to make contact against amateur pitching by age 22, there's not much hope of becoming a successful big leaguer.
Devaris Strange-Gordon - I really don't get this pick. Sure, sometimes non baseball players with great tools develop into great players, look at Matt Kemp. But there's a lot of difference between Gordon and Kemp. First, the age, Gordon is two years older, which already puts him behind the developmental curve when he's going to have to start in rookie ball. Second is the body type. I've got no problem with taking a toolsy guy if he's built like young Arnold and can run like a gazelle, but Gordon is a stick. At 5'11'' 150, Gordon is built like me, and from personal experience, I can tell you that people that size have trouble generating power. (Then again, if we're basing this off me, I can only assume that most of Gordon's at bats end in a strikeout or a ground out, but hey, he made the pitcher throw six pitches to do it, that's a good thing, right?) Because of this I'm assuming "toolsy" means "fast" which makes me think of Gordon as a Joey Gathright type jumping over cars. Yeah, I know, we're not selling jeans here, but tools are all Gordon has without baseball experience, and if he's not a big guy, I can't see him going far.
Jon Michael Redding - College pitcher that throws in the low 90s with good control? Sure, why not?
Overall, this didn't seem like a Logan White draft. At least with high school players, you can have a hope that they'll become something, but when you got guys at 21-22 who don't do anything particular inspiring, it's hard to get inspired. Again, I know nothing about this so don't take anything I say too seriously, but I can't see a huge influx of talent coming from this draft.