Dodger Chatter: 2018 Amateur Draft

Much disappointment has been expressed because the Dodgers couldn’t sign their first round selection this year.  High school right-hander J.T. Ginn chose to attend Mississippi State University and perhaps enter the draft again in 2020 after his sophomore year.

I was 100 percent sure that the Dodgers had a commitment that he would sign or else why would they select him with their first overall selection when some very good signable college players were still available. Already there are suggestions that Billy Gasparino might have punched his ticket out of town or at least might ride on a different car before the next draft. I am not so sure about that as his call must have been supported by all those involved with the draft. Maybe it was a plan to gather two early selections during the 2019 draft, perhaps thought to be an even stronger drafting class next year. I’m not big into conspiracy theories so  I will settle for a missed opportunity. Although, maybe we have to wait for those two selections in 2019 to pass our final judgment.

In any event, it is over and regardless of what other teams did I think the strength of a draft comes from the 31 players that were signed, not by  one that didn’t. For that assessment we indeed do have to settle in  for a longer haul.

Interesting enough, but not surprisingly, of the nine draftees not signed, five are high school players while four are from community colleges. That is pretty much as we would expect. The new contingent of draftees includes eight right-hand pitchers, six lefties, three second basemen, three catchers, one first baseman and 10 outfielders.

J.T. Ginn is now out of the picture for at least two years. In the meantime, by then we will know how the Dodgers second 2018 selection has worked out. Will we be questioning that call or will we be comparing him with Walker Buehler? He might not be a Walker Buehler, but I expect right-hander Michael Grove was not an ill thought out selection by the Dodgers. Perhaps he will be a Caleb Ferguson,a Mitchell White or a Morgan Cooper. I certainly could live with that.

The 6’3”/200-pound Grove was taken with the 68th overall selection out of West Virginia University.

He is a native of Wheeling, West Virginia and graduated from Wheeling Park High School.

Following his high school graduation Grove headed to West Virginia University although he had other scholarship offers from Hofstra, Richmond and Eastern Kentucky as well. He chose WVU because of the baseball program offered by head coach Randy Mazey.

At that time Grove described his pitching arsenal.

“I throw a hard fastball around 90-91 mph,” he said. “I can add in the changeup and a good slider with that as well. I just want to get better all-around during my senior year and have more command with my off-speed pitches, throw a little harder and hit even better.”

Grove did not have an overly strong year as a freshman at WVU but broke out during his sophomore year in 2017. Over 47 innings he posted a 2.87 ERA along with a 0.94 WHIP while walking 15 and striking out 61. His opponents hit but .174 against him. Following his ninth start his season was over as he was scheduled for the now almost commonplace Tommy John surgery.

The young right-hander did not pitch at all during the 2018 college season. He might be ready for some late season work during the current campaign but more likely will begin his professional career in 2019 at which time he will be 22.

It was not surprising that the Dodgers selected Grove during the June draft. In fact, it was expected in some circles, although perhaps not quite so early in the draft. While some pundits were labeling the selection of Grove as a steal Baseball America was a bit more reserved in their assessment of the selection.

“Grove was shaping up to be a priority follow this year as he showed a mid-rotation caliber arm for West Virginia last season before he blew out his elbow in his ninth start of the season. He hasn’t pitched in a game this year as he recovers, but pre-injury he was blowing away hitters with a 93-96 mph fastball and a plus breaking ball with above-average control. Grove’s injury status makes him a true wild card for the draft, but a team willing to take a chance could end up landing a second/third round talent in a later round.”

In selecting Grove, Billy Gasparino felt he had somewhat of an inside track:

“Grove’s a little bit of a unique case,” said Dodgers director, amateur scouting Billy Gasparino. “A  lot of credit goes to our area scout Jonah Rosenthal — he was able to see Grove in both his freshman and sophomore year at West Virginia and gain some comfortability with his physical ability.”

“We felt like we were pretty prepared to know what kind of pitcher we were getting, despite knowing he had Tommy John surgery,” Gasparino said. “He is right about the 12-month mark now in the recovery process, and from all accounts, he is back on track to be at the same health and physical capacity he was before.”

Sometimes things just don’t turn out as planned. For whatever reason J. T. Ginn is not a Dodger. But, Michael Grove is as are 30 other young men. We might just be pleasantly surprised by this drafting class.

Mark Timmons Words

I was asked about Jansen’s, Grandal’s and Puig’s execution in the 9th and I said “I’m all for it!” What a horrible way to lose! Kenley will blow some saves from time-to-time.  He’s not invincible!  In 2017, he only blew 1, which was his best year.  Here’s his blown saves:

  • 2011: 5 for 6
  • 2012: 25 for 32
  • 2013: 28 for 32
  • 2014: 44 for 49
  • 2015: 36 for 38
  • 2016: 47 of 53
  • 2017: 41 of 42
  • 2018: 23 of 26 (hopefully that was his last one – they really hurt)

Kenley owned the loss. It was on him for walking a batter with two outs.  That almost always bites you! Move on, nothing to see here folks!

This article has 58 Comments

  1. Move on my ass… All I get is a yearly rundown on Kenley’s BS’s???
    How many times can Fencepost miss a cutoff man??? Yep maybe there’s a reason he sold his crib in SoCal…
    If you gotta double clutch, bite the bullet, hold the ball…
    That was a team cluster bang…
    Once again thanks for sharing Kenley’s 29 BS in 8 years…
    P.S. And he might blow another one MT…

    1. You don’t walk the man… you don’t get the mental midget making mistakes.

      1. How about backing up the throw Kenley? Nine year old pitchers know to do that.

  2. DC – Thanks for the a Grove update…
    I think Gasparino is safe for another draft…

  3. Nobody is more of a minor league fanatic than me (okay maybe DC). I have seen more than 1,000 minor league games, and have more favorite minor league players than a sane person should have. So, the draft and development of players is something that I follow closely. While I do not believe that Billy Gasparino is in any danger, there have to be concerns. IMO there is no reason to not draft and sign your first-round pick. That is the life blood for a team that has made their primary strategy to build from within.
    Reviewing Gasparino’s draft from 2015-2017, rounds 1-5:
    1. Walker Buehler – Signed and is thus far a home run.
    1A. Kyle Funkhouser – Did not sign
    2. Mitch Hansen – Bust – Released in June. Not doing well in NYY organization…yet.
    2A. Josh Sborz – AAA reliever. On track to make roster in 2019, but is more likely to be a 2020 impact.
    3. Philip Pfeifer – Traded to ATL in the Bud Norris trade.
    4. Willie Calhoun – Traded in the Yu Darvish trade
    5. Brendon Davis – Traded in the Yu Darvish trade
    1. Gavin Lux – Breakout year at RC.
    1A. Will Smith – Playing as expected defensively (vey good) and better offensively than expected. Could very well be with the LAD 25 man in 2019.
    1B. Jordan Sheffield – Has not yet lived up to anyone’s expectations. He is a bust as a starting pitcher. His future lies in the bullpen.
    2. Mitchell White – Solid 2017, questionable 2018.
    3. Dustin May – Has exceeded expectations and progressing quickly through the organization
    4. D.J. Peters – At AA – Fits FAZ model; big power, ignore strikeouts.
    5. Devin Smeltzer – At AA – Looked promising when starting, not so much yet as a reliever.
    1. Jeren Kendall – Has 4 of 5 tools. Unfortunately, the one tool where he is below average is hit (making contact). Way too early to give up on. But he does need to change his approach. He could be an All Star, or he could be a bust. High ceiling, low floor.
    2. Morgan Cooper – Has still not suited up. Was out last year with shoulder tendenitis, and he still has not returned from it. His future is truly unknown
    3. Connor Wong – At RC and doing okay. Started out 2018 tremendously and has slowed down considerably since. Still a highly thought of prospect.
    4. James Marinan – So well thought of that he was traded for Dylan Floro one year after being drafted.
    5. Riley Ottesen – 1-4 with a 11.39 ERA in 27.2 IP at Great Lakes. Now at AZL.
    Overall, for 2015, Gasparino hit a HR with Buehler, and may have a potential ML middle reliever in Sborz. If Sborz makes it to the Show, 2015 will be a good year. 2017 is at best questionable. I am not quitting on Kendall yet, but if he wants to succeed at the ML level he is going to need to change his approach to making contact. If it costs him HRs so be it. I do not see Wong with the Dodgers long term. With Ruiz, Smith, Cartaya, and multiple other candidates, catcher is a luxury right now and Wong may be better as a trade chip.

    It appears that Gasparino had a fantastic 2016 draft. The first six selections above are in the top 17 Dodger prospects, 5 in the top 12, and 4 in the top 10.

    But even considering his past successes, not drafting the proper player and signing him was a blunder. I am not as convinced as DC that Gasparino was 100% sure Ginn could be signed at the Dodgers’ bonus slot. Counting Funkhouser as a 1st round pick, Gasparino has drafted two first rounders that did not sign. It is Gasparino’s and his regional scout’s job to know who is signable and who is not. Ginn should never have been on their board. IMO, it is irrelevant that LAD will get the #31 pick next year. They miss out on a year of development. The Dodgers could have drafted and signed LHSP Shane McClanahan, South Florida ($2,230,100); OF Steele Walker, Oklahoma ($2,000,000); RHP Sean Hjelle, Kentucky ($1,500,000). All three were tied to the Dodgers believing they should be available at #30 and would be signable. It turns out they all were. Now I know some say big deal, they just pick up another next year. The organization would benefit more from a year of development from any of the three, than guessing as to who may be available at #31 next year.
    And there are others that seem to be developing well, including 4 more top 30 in the 2016 draft: Errol Robinson, Luke Raley, Tony Gonsolin, and Dean Kremer, two of the top relief prospects anywhere, Zach Pop and Marshall Kasowski, both 2017 draftees, and the one closest to the ML, Edwin Rios (2015). Others still climbing with an eye to MLB.
    2015 – Andrew Sopko, Matt Beaty, Kyle Garlick, and two more top relief prospects, Michael Boyle and Nolan Long.
    2016 – Andre Scrubb (and yet another top relief prospect), and Brayan Morales, a very speedy CF not named Jeren Kendall.
    2017 – Jacob Amaya (one of my favorites who is having a monster start to 2018 at Ogden), and a very dark horse sleeper who has done nothing but hit, Jeremy Arocho.
    Take away the two first round non- signed draft picks, and Gasparino has done well with where the Dodgers have picked in the draft. No reason to jettison him just yet.

  4. Kenley did not back up the catcher on the throw, it’s on him. The throw made it there. That’s all on Kenley.

    1. I saw Jansen back up the play but the winning run already crossed the plate. Nothing to backup with two outs after the winning run scores.
      Puig’s throw has to be aired or bounce well before it did. The ball exploded high after the bounce that was too close to Grandal. It would have been a lucky catch for the very best glove regardless of position.

      1. I also didn’t like Grandal calling for a high pitch 4 times in a row after getting 2 strikes lower in the zone and then throwing two very high out of the strike zone. It was time to try to get Jansen back down in the zone. and not try to get the high pitch swing and miss from Ohtani.

        1. What’s really on Kenley is his inability to prevent Ohtani from stealing second base. Grandal throwing the ball after double clutching was Puig like.

          1. Wrong, what game were you watching? watch the replay, when the throw comes in, Kenley is hanging out with the catcher, actually IN FRONT of the catcher, he should have already been at the backstop, that’s baseball 101

          2. I watched the replay and I thought I saw Jansen by the screen. I read later that he apologized to Puig for not backing up the throw. That made you right and me wrong. I have had practice with that so I will get over it. Also, I was thinking the runner was coming home and he stayed at third until after the ball got passed Grandal. That was my second goof. I think my other comments were more accurate though.

  5. I wouldn’t mind seeing Kenley lose a good twenty pounds off that beastly-looking body of his and get himself into better shape.

  6. If Strip can get us the win today, yesterday will just be an aberration that we can laugh at later when we’ve clinched the division. If last night starts a funk for a while, then we can have a different discussion.

  7. I think more of Ginn after he didn’t sign and decided to attend college. He could get hurt or not play well as a freshman and that is a gamble but if he believes in himself he can move up in the draft next year, experience college, and get more slot money.
    As for the Dodgers, I don’t think they were hurt. Now if they had a top 10 pick then they would have to be sure the player would sign but not so much at the very end of the draft. They basically get that draft pick back next year and all they lose is one year of development of a draftee.
    I say take a chance with a 25th to 30th pick if you like the player enough . Two first rounders next year is not that much worse than one this year and one next year. Ginn might not have been available had other teams feared he wouldn’t have signed. Even though he was believed to be a late first round pick the Dodgers might have felt he was at least a mid-first round pick.

    1. Unless his family is wealthy, it’s a dumb move! $2.4 million invested at age 21 can set you for life. It is a roll of the dice with your career, and anything can happen: TJ, hit in the head with a line drive, destroyed knee, hit by a drunk driver. One caveat: it;s not dumb is they have insurance!

  8. I like diaz’s bb/k ratio. Bodes well for his future offensive production. Assuming Kemp stays through 2019, diaz could be right in line for the starting lf job in 2020.

  9. Do I think Billy Gasparino is going to be fired anytime soon? No! However, we know that FAZ is all about the numbers and this is a number you can’t argue with:33% of Billy’s First Round Picks would not sign.That’s a significant number. It’s not the end of the world… yet! Sometimes you take a risk and maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t (Buehler vs. Kendall), but you fail on EVERY pick you fail to sign.

    If I were Gasparino, I would ask any and all prospects that might be picked in the first few rounds “We pick #______. That means that we can’t pay you more than ______________. We would love for you to be a Dodger, so I have to ask, Is that enough to get you to sign? If it’s not, we have to go another direction. “

    I would absolutely ask that!

    1. That is exactly what they do. Ginn was rumored to be looking for $3M, The Dodgers first round slot was $2,275,800. The Dodgers best offer was approximately $2.4M, which turns out to be $500K less than the minimum that Ginn required. The Dodgers had no room in their bonus pool to go over budget by $500K and be in a position to sign their other top 10. They had to know that was the case before the draft because others did. They ended up going $312,500 over slot for Michael Grove and signed their 15th pick LHP Julian Smith for $152,500, which added $27,500 against their bonus pool. I think it is clear that the reason that #10 pick, Deacon Liput signed for the slot money was that Ginn was not going to sign, and gave the Dodgers sufficient notice to sign Grove, Rooney, and Liput.
      The Tigers spent the most on their draft…$14,784,100, while the Dodgers spent the least…$5,139,540. It will be interesting to watch what unfolds for the two teams in the next 3-5 years.

  10. I was listening to MLB yesterday and they were saying that Javy Baez and Yasiel Puig were players with similar gifts, but that while Puig was more athletic and more physically talented, Baez had excellent baseball instincts, while Puig does not. I think that is a very good explanation. I suspect that Puig will hit better the second half, but there are ALWAYS going to be those bonehead plays. #EnjoyLanceStephensonToo

    1. There are only so many balls hit that take a great play to change a hit into an out and if bad plays match or exceed them there is no advantage of having a player on the field that can make great plays.

  11. I was at the game last night saw the play perfectly Kenley Jansen did not backup Grandal he was standing right next to grandal to the left.

  12. How about:

    Machado, Britton & $$$


    Verdugo, alvarez, Rios, Sheffield, heredia & wong

  13. Athletes from Mississippi fare much worse than their neighbors in Alabama and Louisiana. It’s unexplainable and bizarre, but true. So, not big deal. The Dodgers get another first round pick next year.

  14. Nick swisher thinks Jose urias will be key for us.

    Ken Rosenthal thinks Taylor would move to 2b, displacing muncy to 1b and bellinger to cf, is machado comes to LA.

    Dontrelle Willis has good teeth.

    Joe buck has awful facial hair.

    John smoltz is cool.

    1. I agree about Urias.

      Machado ain’t coming to LA… unless he’s a D-Bag playing an away game.

      1. Well, urias was arguably the biggest loss from last year’s postseason push. Was it libertore or avilan also? We were basically full strength. But I’m not bitter!

    1. I really believe the D-Bag will sell the farm and their right… well never mind, for Manny!

  15. CT3 doing that strikeout thing again, three last night and two already today.

    1. … but his BA is now up to .260 and over the past 30 days he is hitting .293. The last 15 days he is hitting .342 and the last 7 games he is hitting .381. I think he is trending the right direction.

  16. Please Roberts, give Taylor a great and well-deserved rest …. Or demand that he wear glasses since he seems not to be seeing the ball well!

  17. Where has the Dodger long ball gone? Offense has been not so good the last two games.

  18. I sound like a broken records bu CT3 looks horrible the las two nights. 7 k’s last 8 AB’s. Maybe we do need Machado

  19. Puig hit a shot on a perfectly balanced swing to get an important insurance run in the 8th. He has a higher batting average than every regular except Kemp and Muncy. Don’t tell Bumsrap though!

  20. The Dodgers stink it up against the Angels. Jansen sure as the heck can’t make up for last night but at least he didn’t do it again. We just don’t get up for the Angels like they do for us. Deck mcguire you got to be kidding me. A career minor leaguer who was cut from the Dodgers system struck out 6 in three innings. I might have a chance to strike out Taylor. Oh well hey no gloom and doom when the dodgers win. Roberts may need to give Taylor a day. Baseball is a tough humbling game. When you k 4 times and make an error that can’t be a confidence builder. Taylor is solid and tomorrow’s a new day and as someone said stay positive. The Dodgers won so it could be the start of a winning streak.

  21. Todd Frazier and his $18M contract (2018 through 2019) aside, the Mets should ask for Puig in a trade for deGrom and put Puig at 3rd base.
    The Mets are an offensive mess.

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