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Dodgers tap Missouri for talent
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2004 First-Year Player Draft
06/07/2004  2:02 PM ET
Dodgers tap Missouri for talent
Elbert, DeWitt selected as top picks in draft
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Scott Elbert was 6-2 with a 0.52 ERA and 114 strikeouts this season. (Courtesy Elbert family)

LOS ANGELES -- Most scouts can go an entire career without having one player taken in the first-round.

Dodgers Midwest scout Mitch Webster Monday had two Missouri high school talents that he was covering selected by the Dodgers in a 10-minute span of the first round during Monday's First-Year Player Draft.

With their primary selection (17th overall), the Dodgers took left-handed pitcher Scott Elbert from Seneca High School. With their second choice they took Blake DeWitt, an offensive-minded infielder from Sikeston High School. The pick, No. 28 overall, originally belonged to the New York Yankees, who surrendered it as compensation for signing Dodger free agent reliever Paul Quantrill.

"These kind of guys stick out from the time they're babies," said Webster, a former Dodgers outfielder. "I've had old-timers call me and give me heck today. The odds of this are astronomical. We had to get lucky to get both of them."


Complete Draft coverage >

Amateur scouting director Logan White, in his third year running the Dodgers draft but first working under new general manager Paul DePodesta, stuck to his formula for taking high-ceiling high school players with his highest picks. There was much speculation that DePodesta would encourage White to go with a more proven college prospect.

Elbert was the first left-handed high school pitcher taken in the draft. He is 19 years old, 6-2, 195 pounds. He was 6-2 with a 0.52 ERA this season, 114 strikeouts, only 14 walks and 13 hits allowed in 54 innings. He was the state Gatorade player of the year.

Scott Elbert
School:
Seneca HS
Position: LHP   B/T: L/L
H: 6-2   W: 190
Born: 1985-05-13   Class: HS
Scouting report:
MEDIUM, ATHLETIC FRAME. WELL PROPORTIONED. STRONG THIGHS & LEGS. EXCELLENT FLEXIBILITY. OVERALL BODY STRENGTH. SOME MATURITY REMAINS. NO WINDUP, 3/4 ANGLE. ARMSIDE RUN FB, OCCAISIONAL PLUS SINK, MOST 90-91. LOOSE, QUICK ARM. COMMANDS BOTH SIDES OF PLATE. QUALITY 3/4 TILT SLURVE, TIGHT, SHARP BREAK, PLUS VALUE. FEEL FOR CHANGE, SINKS, FADES. CONFIDENT LHP W/ AVG TO PLUS STUFF. EXCITING TO WATCH, PLAYER KNOWS HOW TO PERFORM.
Scouting video:
56K | 350K

"Elbert has outstanding makeup, he's a tremendous athlete, a physical specimen with a power arm, a hard-breaking slider and a change-up," said White. "He's got a good feel for pitching. He was a football player (running back) in high school, but his fastball runs 90-94 mph consistently with an 84-mph slider and his change-up is around the zone. He has beautiful makeup."

DeWitt, 5-11 and 175, is an 18-year-old left-handed hitter who batted .548 with 14 home runs, 48 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 88 at-bats. DeWitt also was 27-1 as a pitcher in four years, but the Dodgers see him as a hitter.

"With DeWitt, we got our bat," said White. "Everybody's wanted us to get a bat, we've been trying, and this kid has a sweet stroke. Our staff felt he was too good a hitter to pass up. His swing is a lot like (2002 first-rounder James) Loney's, he can drive to all fields and he's developing pull power.

"He's been a shortstop but he could wind up at third base or second. He was going to Georgia Tech, but it's the same thing with him. We've talked to the family and we are very hopeful to get something done."

Elbert was ranked as the 12th-best player in the draft and DeWitt 65th by Baseball America. Elbert has a commitment to the University of Missouri and DeWitt to Georgia Tech.

Blake Dewitt
School:
Sikeston HS
Position: 2B   B/T: L/R
H: 5-11   W: 175
Born: 1985-08-20   Class: HS
Scouting report:
MEDIUM, COMPACT BUILD. BROAD SHOULDERS. STRONG LEGS. STRAIGHT UP, OPEN STANCE. LINE DRIVE TYPE SWING W/ LIFT FOR PWR. SOUND HIT APPROACH. AGGRESSIVE AT PLATE. GOOD KNOWLEDGE OF K ZONE. GAP PWR W/ LONG BALL POTENTIAL. FLASHES AVG ARM. GLOVE INSTINCTS. CONFIDENT APPROACH AT PLATE & FIELD. LHH W/ POTENTIAL TO HIT FOR AVG & PWR. STEADY, RELIABLE FIELDER.
Scouting video:
56K | 350K

Elbert said he expects to sign within a week, and the going rate for his slot in the draft should be about $1.5 million. Having talked to the families involved, White said he is confident both will sign.

"I'm ready to start my career," said Elbert. "I've said all along I think I'll get there (the Major Leagues) in three years. I've set my goals to that."

Elbert worked out for scouts at Dodger Stadium last week. As a football player, he ran for 2,449 yards and 36 touchdowns as a junior, decided to stick exclusively to baseball as a senior.

"Everyone in Seneca was heartbroken because it's a football town, but I felt good about the decision," said Elbert. "I figured I had an opportunity to play Major League Baseball compared to the NFL, where I had no chance, and I knew I wanted to be a professional in something."

Both players are being advised by Jim Turner, who, like the two draftees, is based in Missouri. Turner represents, among others, former Dodger Brian Jordan.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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