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06/06/06 4:30 PM ET

Mattingly a natural pick for Dodgers

Team enthused about player's athleticism and bloodlines

LOS ANGELES -- Aside from the obvious bloodlines, draft followers were generally shocked when the Dodgers selected Don Mattingly's son with the 31st overall pick on Tuesday.

But Logan White had a pretty good answer when asked why Preston Mattingly wasn't included in Baseball America's Top 200 potential draftees.

"Russell Martin and Matt Kemp weren't in anybody's top 200 when we took them," said White, who drafted Martin and Kemp in his first two drafts as Dodgers scouting director and has seen them make Major League impacts this year. "We knew [Mattingly would] go in the second or third round. He's got great bloodlines. He's a high-ceiling kid, one of the best athletes in the draft."

White also said he felt Mattingly's selection made sense considering the Dodgers had no picks between No. 31 and No. 113, had already taken two pitchers in the first round and wanted an athletic position player.

They feel they got that in Mattingly, an 18-year-old from Evansville (Ind.) Central High School. Unlike his father, Mattingly is a right-handed hitter with good running speed. Officially, he was drafted as a shortstop, but he expects to play first base or a corner outfield position. Although he signed a letter of intent with the University of Tennessee, he said he is eager to sign and get his professional career started.

"I have a lot to do to prove to everybody I can play at the Major League level," he said. "It seems like in the beginning of the year, I was a top-10 rounder, then a top-five, and a month or two later in the top three. The more people turned out to see me play, the more they saw how good I could be and the potential I had."

Emerging from the shadow of his famous father, Mattingly has some catching up to do in his baseball career, mainly because he also played football and basketball in high school.

"My dad was a great player, but I want to be my own person," he said. "There was a lot of great stuff he accomplished. I want to get better every day. It's a three- or four-year process at least [to reach the Majors]. I haven't played a lot of baseball. I'm really raw."

He said he has picked up similar hitting techniques from watching his father's swing, but he has better running speed and he's three to four inches taller at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds.

Mattingly said "it would have been kind of cool" if he was drafted by his father's only club, the Yankees, but he's happy to be going to the club "that wanted me the most."

"The Dodgers are a great organization, and they have a lot of young players and they're moving them up the line," he said.

He was drafted with a pick the Dodgers received as compensation for losing free agent pitcher Jeff Weaver to the Angels.

Said Don Mattingly of his son: "He's got a lot of ability. He can really run, has great power. [When I was drafted], I couldn't run, I couldn't throw and I couldn't hit for power -- other than that, we're identical. He could put on 20 pounds and still look skinny.

"He's athletic, very competitive. He's breaking away [from the Mattingly brand], and can now do his own thing."

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