2014 MLB Draft Preview: California Talent The Dodgers Could Draft
In our first set of draft profiles, we’ll take a look at draft prospects from California. The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t generally look locally, as they’ve used a first round pick on a Californian just once in the past decade, when they selected Chris Reed out of Stanford three years ago.
However, this class offers some intriguing prospects that may lead to a change in that trend. Here are three prospects from California that could hear their names called by the Dodgers, who hold the 22nd pick in the first round.
Derek Hill, OF, CA HS
Derek Hill’s name seems to be connected to the Dodgers more than any other player heading into the draft. While he doesn’t fit the quintessential mold of a top Dodger pick, there are plenty of reasons he makes sense for the pick.
Hill’s father, Orsino, works as an area scout for the Dodgers. Orsino played professionally but never made it to the majors. Still, the Dodgers love bloodlines and the last time they took a prep outfielder from northern California whose father had ties to the organization, it worked out pretty well.
Derek isn’t the biggest kid, but he has solid size at around 6’0 and 180 pounds. He has a loose, whippy swing that is more line drive oriented now, but could grow into some power. He’s lauded for his bat-to-ball skills and has a good idea of what he wants to accomplish at the plate. Hill’s biggest tools however, are his legs and his glove. Hill is at least a 60 runner on the 20-80 scale and at least a 70 defender in center field. His arm is average, but you’re looking at a potential gold glover up the middle, which is a valuable commodity.
Not your typical Dodgers first rounder, but there’s a connection there and he’s a player with a lot of potential.
Luis Ortiz, RHP, CA HS
I’ve liked Luis Ortiz for a while now. He was hurt earlier this spring, likely due to the fact that his coach pitched him three times in five days in April, but is healthy and showing good stuff across the board.
Ortiz has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and he can bump it up into the mid 90s when he needs it. His slider is considered a future out pitch, and he also tinkers with both a curveball and a changeup. Ortiz has an extremely quick arm, and a solid arm action, though he could stand to incorporate his lower half more in his delivery.
The knock on Ortiz is his height. He’s listed on some websites as 6’2 or 6’3 but looks closer to six foot. His body also doesn’t offer a lot of projection, so what you see is mostly what you get. Still, he has two present plus pitches, a great natural arm and the potential for a deep repertoire.
Jacob Gatewood, SS, CA HS
Jacob Gatewood is one of the more polarizing prospects in the draft — he’s either loved or hated. Gatewood is huge for a shortstop, listed at 6’4 with a lean build that looks like it’ll fill out down the road. He has a strong arm but lacks the agility to stay at short long-term, much like Corey Seager. Where Gatewood differs from Seager, though, is in his offensive toolkit.
Gatewood offers some of the best raw power in the draft, often seen sending balls soaring during batting practice and occasionally in game. The problem, though, is that he doesn’t make a lot of contact and projects as a below average hitter. With his long arms, it’s no surprise that there’s length to his swing.
Gatewood is your typical boom or bust type prospect, one which the Dodgers generally don’t opt for in the first round. Still, Gatewood could hit 30 homers if he puts it all together.
In our next installment, which will come Tuesday, we’ll look at two states the Dodgers generally mine for talent.
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