The Dodgers went away from the norm in the 2012 June draft, selecting only one high school pitcher in the first 10 rounds. Everyone has been focused on the immaculate swing of first round selection Corey Seager, and for good reason. The younger brother of Seattle Mariners Kyle Seager has all the tools and size to be a productive major league infielder.
There is another impressive looking high school hitter joining the Dodgers system this year, sixth round pick Joey Curletta from Mountain Pointe High School in Arizona. You all know how I feel about hitting prospects (suffice to say, I'm highly critical), but Curletta has one of the best, purest, most athletic swings I've seen from someone his age. Here is video of Curletta appearing in, and winning, the 5th Annual Power Showcase Home Run Derby held at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ. I lov ethat he doesn't take a traditional stride, so there are no "he got his foot down late" type timing issues. He then explodes with his hips first while keeping his hands back, which will keep him from getting fooled by breaking balls as often. Lastly, the strong, downward path to the ball, followed by solid balance at the point of contact through the finish will help maximize his power, as evidenced by his 462 foot home run in this competition. His stance and swing remind me a lot of Troy Glaus.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Joey, and he kindly answered a few questions regarding his future as a Dodger.
Gary Scott: How did you find out you had been drafted by the Dodgers and what were your reactions?
Joey Curletta: Logan White called my dad toward the end of the 5th round and asked if they drafted me in the 6th round, would I sign. When my dad asked me, my first reaction was actually no because of what happened to the signing bonuses this year--it took a bit of a mindset adjustment. But when I discussed it with my dad during the few minutes I had to decide we realized it was an unbelievable opportunity with an outstanding organization filled with outstanding management, coaching and players and this situation may never present itself again. Afterwards, we realized it all seemed just meant to be. As an 11 year old, Tommy Lasorda signed my shirt at a charity event, “To a future Dodger,” among several other coincidences like my practically Dodger-blue truck and I had to buy a Dodger cap for my summer club team because the ones they supplied didn’t fit and the color scheme was identical.
GS: Has the team mentioned where you will be assigned?
JC: Currently I am assigned to the Arizona Rookie League at Camelback Ranch here in Phoenix.
GS: Will you be pitching or playing 1B/OF?
JC: I am currently projected as a right fielder. I played 1st base in high school because that’s where my team needed me, but I had the opportunity to play right field and some center field in club ball and I did well there and enjoyed it, especially throwing people out at home. Contrary to some reports I have seen out there, my speed is not going to be a problem. I am currently a 6.8 in the 60-yard dash and that will only get better with hard work. I consider defense a big plus side of my game.
GS: Is there a current MLB player you compare your game to?
JC: After my BP session at the Dodgers’ pre-draft workout, Shawn Green told me he liked my swing and hitting instincts and that I should model my hitting game after Mark Trumbo. As for the rest of my game, I kind of identify with Josh Hamilton because of his consistency, work ethic, ability to overcome adversity and overall character, but I wouldn’t dare compare my game to any MLB player at this point.
GS: How did you get into baseball? Who inspired you to play?
JC: I am the youngest of 4 boys in my family and after watching my brothers play, I just came out swinging as a 5 year old and haven’t looked back. I do not have a specific inspiration. My parents always tried to keep it fun while at the same time pushing me to be my best so I just always loved playing the game of baseball.
GS: What are you most excited about as you begin your professional career?
JC: The opportunity to develop my skills by playing everyday under the instruction of a great coaching staff and the overall opportunity to play at the highest level.
Very special thanks to Joey Curletta for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck in your Dodgers career, we're all pulling for you!