White, DePodesta send message06/09/2004 12:19 AM ET
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers scouting director Logan White just completed a draft in which his first two choices were prep players and it didn't sound as if he bound and gagged general manager Paul DePodesta to pull it off.
"We're really excited about the way it went," said DePodesta, debunking notions advanced in the book "Moneyball" that he wouldn't draft high school players. "There was a lot of focus externally that Logan and I have different backgrounds and different philosophies, but we weren't trying to send a message to the industry. We were just trying to get the best players on the board at the time."
A year ago, in what was rated the top draft in the game by Baseball America, White selected 50 players, 36 (72 percent) of them high school players, including the first eight. This time, only 22 of 52 (42 percent) were high school players, but that included four of the first six.
Most prominent of the preps is the pair of first-rounders from Missouri -- left-handed pitcher Scott Elbert (taken with the 17th overall pick) and infielder Blake DeWitt (taken with the 28th pick received from the Yankees as compensation for the signing of free agent Paul Quantrill).
DePodesta scouted Elbert in person, but the one player he said he had to have was DeWitt.
"He's the bat our guys identified and he's the one I didn't want to lose," said DePodesta. "He's the position player I really wanted to make sure he'd be a Dodger at the end of the day, whether we took him 17th or 28th or 33rd. The draft was not very deep in college position players. We think he's the best high school hitter."
When the second session was over, the Dodgers had selected 25 pitchers (eight left-handed and 17 right-handed), 13 infielders, nine outfielders and five catchers.
DePodesta said the higher percentage of college players this year compared to last year was the result of organizational needs and not forcing his will upon White.
"We already had three young infielders at Ogden and a young catcher there and we believed that club could use some experienced position players," he said. "It wasn't as if, by design, we went in saying we are going to take 12 of the first 20 college guys. If Elbert hadn't been there, we very well might have taken a college player there. We were looking for the best fit for the organization. It's true the last few years we've taken pretty young players. We did want to balance that out."
DePodesta said he is confident the club will sign the first 10 picks without a lengthy holdout. The Dodgers anticipate spending roughly $3.75 million on the first three -- Elbert, DeWitt and supplemental pick Justin Orenduff, a right-handed pitcher from Virginia Commonwealth College.
But he indicated the Dodgers probably would have passed if Long Beach State right-handed pitcher Jered Weaver -- brother of Dodger Jeff Weaver and the consensus overall top pick who slid to the Angels at No. 12 because of signability concerns -- had been available when the Dodgers selected.
"The talk all spring was that Jered would be a top 5 or top 3 pick so we did not spend a lot of time on him, it would not have been time well spent," he said. "We probably wouldn't have made an 11th-hour decision without the appropriate homework."
But, the club that drafted the sons of manager Jim Tracy and bench coach Jim Riggleman two years ago, was at with the family ties again Tuesday.
The Dodgers took 43rd-rounder Davis Bilardello, a left-handed pitcher from Vero Beach High School and the son of Single-A Columbus manager Dann Bilardello; 40th-rounder Brandon Carter, a shortstop from Old Dominion University and the nephew of minor league infield coordinator Jerry Royster; and 46-rounder Andrew Brewer, a right-handed pitcher from Metro Christian Academy and the son of minor league pitching coordinator Mark Brewer.
The Dodgers also took Benjamin Petralli, a high school catcher and son of former big league catcher Geno Petralli and infielder Justin Crist, son of St. Louis scouting supervisor Clark Crist.
The club also redrafted a pair of 2002 draftees: left-handed pitchers Daniel Forrer in the 17th round and Kyle Rapp in the 44th round.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.