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Thursday, June 5, 2014
Dodgers take prep pitcher in first round

By Mark Saxon

The Los Angeles Dodgers picked right-handed pitcher Grant Holmes from Conway High in South Carolina with their first pick, No. 22 overall, in Thursday night's Major League Baseball draft.

Here is part of Baseball America's scouting report on Holmes, who was rated the No. 7 right-handed pitcher in the draft:

"Holmes has some of the best present stuff in the class. He came out sitting 93-96 mph, touching 98 mph early in the season and then 91-94 in some later starts. His power curveball is one of the top breaking balls in the country, a plus pitch that flashes better. On the showcase circuit, Holmes was primarily a two-pitch pitcher who flashed a seldom-used changeup."

Here is what Dodgers scouting director Logan White said about Holmes on a conference call Thursday night:

"This pitcher was projected to go, especially early, in the first five picks. The thing I like about him is you have to look at him as more than a high school pitcher. He's an advanced high school pitcher. He's an athletic guy, a lot like [Zack] Greinke, who swings the bat. He's strong, he's physical and he's got good arm action. To me, he had probably the best breaking ball I saw throughout the country. I'm not trying to oversell it. He's certainly a lot better pick than the 22nd pick, I can tell you that."

With their second-round pick, the Dodgers took outfielder Alex Verdugo from Sahuaro High in Arizona. Baseball America projected Verdugo to be selected as a left-handed pitcher. Here is an excerpt of its scouting report:

"Scouts have not liked his body language or effort at times this season on the mound and have noted immature behavior. As a position player, Verdugo profiles as a corner outfielder with an above-average arm, below-average speed and hitting potential. Some teams believe he wants to go out as a hitter, but his professional future is definitely on the mound."

Here is what White said about Verdugo:

"He would have been a very high pick as a pitcher, but he loves to hit. He's not a flyer like, say, a Dee Gordon. I compare him more to a Joc Pederson. He's a line drive, gap-to-gap guy who's got power. I feel we were able to get a player who a lot of people were focusing on as a pitcher. We're going to send him out as a hitter, and if he doesn't hit, he’s going to go right on the mound like a Kenley Jansen or a Pedro Baez and be a big league pitcher."

The Dodgers have not had a first-round pick make an impact in the major leagues since 2007 top pick Chris Withrow, who was an important reliever for the Dodgers late last season and at times this year before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery earlier this week. In the past 20 years, the Dodgers have drafted just two star-level players in the first round: Paul Konerko and Clayton Kershaw.

The draft continues Friday.