Dodgers' Drafted Players Means More Prospects Playing With The Lookouts

Chattanooga Has Become A Pipeline To Los Angeles

Friday, June 14, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers added to their farm system with 40 selections last week in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, but many of the club's top prospects are already making an impact in the Major Leagues. Most of the prospects who are currently with the Dodgers have spent time playing in Chattanooga for the Lookouts

3em; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">Sensational Yasiel Puig, the organization's No. 1 prospect, played 40 games with the Lookouts in 2013. He made his highly anticipated debut last Monday and has already shown off each of the five tools that convinced the Dodgers to sign the outfielder to a seven-year, $42 million contract last June.

Puig displayed his cannon of an arm with a pair of outfield assists, and flexed his muscle with four home runs in his first week in the Majors. The Cuban defector has also shown blazing speed on the bases and a flair for the dramatic.

"We're definitely watching something special with him," said rookie right-hander Stephen Fife, who earned a role in the Dodgers' rotation this month with two of the best outings of his young career. Fife started six games for the Lookouts and was 3-0.

Outfielder Scott Van Slyke played in 65 games for the 2010 Lookouts and 130 games in 2011 winning the Southern League batting title. He began the season with Triple-A Albuquerque, has provided the Dodgers with some much-needed power since his promotion on May 10. So too has rookie catcher Tim Federowicz, the club's No. 9 prospect.

From June 1-9, the only home runs hit by the Dodgers came courtesy of Puig (four), Van Slyke (two), and Federowicz (one). That's the longest run for Dodger rookies since 2007.

Paco Rodriguez appeared in 15 games for the 2012 Lookouts with a 1.32 ERA. He pitched in 12 games last season for the Dodgers with a 1.35 ERA. He was the first player from the 2012 Draft to reach the Majors. Picked in the second round of last year's Draft, Rodriguez has carved a niche in the bullpen as a left-hander who can get out hitters from both sides of the plate. Rodriguez is among the club leaders in appearances. 

So which prospects will be the next to make an impact for the Dodgers?

Zach Lee has shown improvement this year at Double-A Chattanooga, with a 5-3 record and a 2.62 ERA in 13 games, including 12 starts. The club's No. 2 prospect, Lee has 57 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 65 1/3 innings.

Lee, 21, was the Dodgers' first round pick (28th overall) in the 2010 Draft and has been rising quickly through the system ever since. The right-hander has four pitches that he can throw for strikes and has good movement on a fastball that sits at 92-93 mph. Still, Lee is not expected to arrive in the Majors until next season.

Outfielder Joc Pederson is also in Chattanooga, where he's still refining his game. Pederson's father, Stu, was an outfielder with the Dodgers in 1985. The club drafted his older brother, Tyger, as an infielder in the 33rd round this year.

While Pederson is still developing, the 21-year-old made an impression on Mattingly during Spring Training this year, with a natural swing that reminds the manager of Yankees star Robinson Cano and Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez.

But there's more to like about Pederson, the club's No. 3 prospect, than just his bat and his baseball bloodlines.

"He gets good jumps in the outfield," Mattingly said. "Our guys down [in Chattanooga] think he probably tracks the ball better than anybody we've got."

Of course, Pederson still has a few hurdles to cross before he's ready for the Majors.

"He's struggled a little bit with lefties, and those are areas he needs to continue to get better at down there," Mattingly said. "His swing is good, but he's still chasing and gets a little wound up and a little fast. You see the swing and the baseline for what it could be, but you see the other stuff too that just comes with games and seeing more pitches and different styles. He's just going to keep getting better."

The Dodgers' No. 5 and No. 6 prospects, left-handers Chris Reed and Onelki Garcia, are also in Chattanooga.

Reed was a college reliever, but the Dodgers fancied him as a starter when they drafted him with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2011 Draft. The lanky hurler has a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and a nasty slider that serves as his out pitch. Reed is still being groomed, though, so he likely won't be in the big leagues for another year.

As for Garcia, he's struggled with command in the Minors, but is only in his second professional season in America since defecting from Cuba and being drafted in the third round of last year's Draft. Garcia still has a ways to go, but the Dodgers are intrigued by his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame.

Chris Withrow has spent more time with the Double-A Lookouts then any Major League player in memory (2009-2012). The club's No. 10 prospect, Withrow has done well since moving to the bullpen in Triple-A. He's a power pitcher who can reach 100 mph with his fastball. Withrow is on the 40-man roster and was Wednesday callup to the Dodgers.

With a crew of impressive rookies and some talented prospects in the Minors, the future is looking brighter for the Dodgers and the Chattanooga Lookouts.

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