The Dodgers made their first two picks of the 2012 MLB Draft, selecting a pair of shortstops. The Dodgers tabbed North Carolina high school shortstop Corey Seager with the No. 18 overall pick, then took Jesmuel Valentin, a shortstop from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, with the No. 51 pick, a supplemental pick for losing Type B free agent Rod Barajas to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Seager is the first position player taken by the Dodgers with their first pick since James Loney was picked in the first round in 2002. That was the first draft for Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White, who has run the Dodgers' drafts ever since.
"Everybody speculates that we'll always take pitching, but I've always said we'll take the best available player, and to me he was the best available player at that pick," White said.
Seager, 18, is 6'4" and 205 pounds, and has been speculated by many to eventually move to third base. White however is not in a hurry to make the move.
"Talent wise, he's a bigger guy, a physical guy. A lot of people think he has to go over to third. My outlook is, why
can't we give him a shot at shortstop? It would be a mistake for us to let him off shortstop right away," said White. "I think sometimes we run the big guys off there too quick. If you can have an offensive guy (at shortstop) who can hit
for average and hit for power it's pretty special."
White was very high on Seager's bat, even speculating that he would hit for more power than Robin Ventura.
"When I see that swing, and his swing path, his mechanics to hit, and his size and strength, he's a big league hitter. No doubt," White said.
Seager is represented by Scott Boras, who also represented Chris Reed, last year's first round pick. White didn't anticipate there being a problem in signing Seager.
"I anticipate everything moving along well. I don't expect any acrimony," White said. "To me they indicated they like professional baseball from the things Corey did this year: taking batting practice in front of the scouts, working out for the scouts, up front straightforward and friendly family. All of those things indicate to me he wants to play the game."
The MLB allotted slot bonus amount for the No. 18 pick is $1.95 million.
Valentin is 5'10" and 175 pounds, and played in the shadow of No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
"I don't hesitate to say this at all. He is an absolute major league defender. He's very polished and very good," White said. "I was sweating. I didn't think he would get to 51."
Valentin, 18, has been switch hitting for about a year, but has made great strides hitting left-handed. White likened Valentin to his father, though with less power.
"He's only been hitting left-handed for less than a year but he has a real quality stroke on the left side, and shows power from both sides. He has a chance to be an offensive player in the middle of the diamond," White said. "The only thing that you're not getting is that he doesn't run like Dee Gordon or anything like that. He's very similar to his
father in that regard."
White said both Seager and Valentin would begin their pro careers as shortstops, though they might have to alternate time at the position.
"We certainly want them both to play the shortstop position for a while," White said. "We're going to let the development take its process and see."
Seager and Valentin had White in a rather optimistic mood.
"I'm as excited about this draft as I was when we got [Clayton] Kershaw," White said. "I'm not saying they're going to be Kershaw, but that's how happy I am with the two picks we got."