Past, Present, Future Lookouts Working-Out In L.A. This Week

Monday, January 6, 2014
Zach Lee is the Dodgers' top pitching prospect.
Zach Lee is the Dodgers' top pitching prospect.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

LOS ANGELES -- With the college football season ending tonight and the NFL playoffs in full gear, this is the time serious baseball fans begin counting the days until the boys of summer pack up and head to Spring Training. In Los Angeles, several prospects get a head start.

3em;">Fifteen of the organization's top prospects, including 2013 Lookouts Joc Pederson and Zach Lee, will be brought to Los Angeles next week for the Dodgers' seventh annual Winter Development Program.

In addition to Pederson and Lee, invitees are outfielder and Dodgers position player of the year Scott Schebler; Rule 5 pitching acquisition Seth Rosin; infield defensive specialist Miguel Rojas; recent 40-man roster additions include former Lookouts' Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, and Jarret Martin; 2013 big league call-ups are ex-Lookouts' Jose Dominguez, Matt Magill and Nick Buss; pitching prospects Chris Reed and Ross Stripling; and catching prospects Pratt Maynard and Chris O'Brien.

Rojas might be the most intriguing of the group, as general manager Ned Colletti dropped his name as an option to play second base this year if Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero isn't ready and the club decides to go strong defensively. Rojas has a .234 career batting average in eight Minor League seasons, but some who watched him in a few Spring Training games last year compared his defensive skills with 11-time Gold Glove Award winner Omar Vizquel.

The Winter Development Program, started by vice president of player development De Jon Watson, is designed to take the best and brightest of the farm system, accelerate their Major League arrival and aid acclimation to what they will encounter when they get there. Players will participate in workouts and seminars, plus get a taste of Dodgers community outreach with a visit to A Place Called Home, a youth center in South Los Angeles.

Among earlier participants were Clayton Kershaw and ex-Lookout Kenley Jansen. Watson's minicamp also allows club officials to get a line on each player's conditioning prior to Spring Training and to tweak flaws in a pitcher's delivery or a hitter's swing before the start of the real camp, when the player will be focused on making the club.

Those attending receive coaching on baseball skills, but they also are instructed in aspects of Major League Baseball that should be essential but often are overlooked -- from media relations to security issues to interaction with fans.

In addition to sessions with manager Don Mattingly and Colletti, the players will spend time with Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, former players Maury Wills, Eric Karros and Shawn Green, and club president Stan Kasten.

--- Source: MLB.com

Ross Stripling spent most of the 2013 season with Chattanooga.
Ross Stripling spent most of the 2013 season with Chattanooga.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt

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