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Grant Holmes compared to Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Chad Billingsley

Rich Schultz

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Logan White is well aware of his reputation of drafting pitching early, as he did yet again on Thursday night, selecting right-handed pitcher Grant Holmes out of Conway High School in South Carolina in the first round.

"Are you guys surprised I took a pitcher?" White jokingly asked on a conference call Thursday night.

White has been in charge of Dodgers drafts since 2002, and in 13 seasons he has 11 times picked a pitcher with his first selection, incuding 11 of the last 12 years.

White said he and his staff saw Holmes pitch as many as nine times this spring, plus more before that. Holmes is listed at 6'1, 215 pounds.

"You have to look at him as more than a high school pitcher. He's an advanced high school pitcher. He's pitched in tremendous competition, been an MVP in Perfect Games and most of the showcases he's been at," White said. "He's an athletic guy, he's a lot like Zack Greinke as an athlete who can swing the bat."

In addition to Greinke, White compared Holmes to both Matt Cain and Chad Billingsley in terms of physical presence and stuff, only that Holmes throws harder than did Cain and Billingsley at this point of their careers. The praise continued to flow from White, who called Holmes' curveball the best breaking ball in the country.

"The separators are when you see a guy with a plus breaking ball. In my years of doing it, when I've seen pitchers get to the big leagues, it's certainly that breaking ball they have. His is outstanding, his make-up is terrific," White said. "He knows how to pitch, he has a feel."

In the first four mock drafts at Baseball America, Jim Callis had Holmes slated anywhere from 14-19 in the first round, and the right-hander was rated the No. 16 prospect on the Baseball America pre-draft big board. Keith Law at ESPN rated Holmes No. 6 on his big board, though in all four of his mock drafts he had Holmes going 14th to San Francisco. rated Holmes the No. 11 prospect before the draft as well.

The bottom line is the Dodgers didn't think Holmes would be available when their turn came up.

"He's certainly a lot better pick than the 22nd pick," White said. "This pitcher was projected to go early in the first five picks, maybe the first 10. I would have never thought we had a chance to get a pitcher of this caliber where we got him."

That could also mean Holmes, who is advised by Steve Canter, could be looking for more than the slot value of $1,980,500. But White said Holmes sounded excited to be drafted by the Dodgers and is cautiously optimistic that he'll sign.

"Grant was projected to go a lot higher. We like the player. We'll see how that rolls, we'll see what the time frame is on it. We would like to see him go out and get some innings this summer," White said. "We're not in any hurry on it, but I'd like to get him at least to Arizona and get him to know the process, know our staff."