2016 MLB Draft: Analyzing the Los Angeles Dodgers Strategy and Selections

Last week, we discussed “It Takes Two on MLB Draft Day: Stroke of Luck and Brush of Genius” in an article prepping us for the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. With the Draft ending on Saturday the 11th, the Dodgers have made 42 selections.

We recap the Dodgers 2016 draft, highlighting some of the best picks, dispelling some myths about the Dodgers strategy as a whole, and finally looking at where various experts have ranked the Dodgers organization for their 2016 Draft selections.


Ken Gurnick with MLB.com, who has been writing about the Los Angeles Dodgers since 1989, recapped the Draft well for us in his article entitled “Dodgers’ Draft haul follows familiar pattern.” Here is what he had to say about the 2016 Draft for the Dodgers in that article:

“The Dodgers completed the 2016 MLB Draft on Saturday with a concentration of sign-able college players and right-handed pitchers, as they did a year ago.

This year the Dodgers selected 42 players. Including seven from junior college, 34 of the 42 (81 percent) were from the college ranks and eight (19 percent) were from high school. Twenty-three (55 percent) were pitchers, and of that total 20 (87 percent) were right-handed . . .

After evenly splitting their first 10 picks this year between pitchers and position players (topped by Wisconsin high school shortstop Gavin Lux), the Dodgers took pitchers with 17 of 30 picks on Saturday, including Pennsylvania high school right-hander A.J. Alexy with the 11th-round pick and Alabama high school right-hander Graham Ashcraft with the 12th-round pick. Alexy, at 6-foor-4, threw 164 pitches in a complete game last month.”

You might be concerned that with the Dodgers following a similar drafting pattern from 2015 in 2016, it should be a cause for concern since doing the same thing twice and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

However, do not jump to conclusions too quickly. There are several myths about drafting available players, and specifically the Dodgers strategy with those available players that we will expel here. More importantly, the Dodgers did not have a bad draft in 2015, so following the same strategy should not be a cause for concern.

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MYTH NO. 1: The Dodgers like to draft pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery

Per Ken Gurnick:

“Although [Dodgers director of amateur scouting Billy] Gasparino said the club doesn’t have a strategy of drafting pitchers who have already had Tommy John surgery, six of the 23 pitchers drafted this year have had the procedure. [Gasparino, formerly with the San Diego Padres, responded as follows:]

“Honestly, it’s not a franchise strategy, it’s just that there’s so many of them. But we feel very comfortable when they’ve had surgery and they’ve pitched a year after that that they’re on a healthy path.”

Despite the number of draftees who have had the procedure, the number of patients have gone up significantly and the Dodgers decision-makers felt it (1) was ideal to go with the best talent available despite the surgery, and (2) since the player has had the surgical procedure and recovered it might be possible that the procedure will not be needed again. Sounds logical. You can read more about the increase in Tommy John surgical procedures here, here, here and make the call.

MYTH NO. 2: The Dodgers like to draft right-handed pitchers

From Ken Gurnick’s article, quoting Gasparino:

“That’s just the way the numbers work, it’s where the players are. Our strategy still is to take the best available talent. I’m really happy with today’s picks and I think we’ve added a lot of valuable players.”

Per CBSSports.com and MLB.com, there were 477 right-handed pitchers in the 2016 Draft compared to 159 left-handed pitchers. That means of the drafted players, 75% of the pitchers were right-handed, and 25% were left-handed, which is line with what scientists says is about right for the general population, see here and here. By the numbers (81% and 87%), the Dodgers right-handed college-level draft pics were chosen at a larger clip as opposed to available high school right-handers and left-handers. However, the numbers are too close to call on whether this was a strategy or just bare facts on availability and more importantly, simply drafting the best available player when your number is called. Again, a solid strategy to go with the best available talent, which the Dodgers did.

MYTH NO .3: The Dodgers had a bad 2016 Draft

First, Eric Stephen with True Blue LA, discussed the first day of the Draft for the Dodgers via Billy Gasparino.

Second, you can compare all of the Dodgers 2016 draft pics with where they ranked in the MLB.com Top 200 List. According to MLB.com:

“The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who are at least 23 years old and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.

Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools – 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.”

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The Dodgers have already signed one pick, right-handed pitcher Dustin May, who has been compared to the New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom because of similarities in their size, project-ability and long hair.

Per Ken Gurnick:

“According to MLBPipeline.com, May had one of the highest spin rates at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship in October, making him a natural for the analytical Dodgers. He threw in the low 80s as a sophomore but added velocity this year, reaching 95 mph. He’s from the same high school as big leaguer Tyler Collins. He was recruited by Texas Tech.”

“He’s one of our favorites, not only the talent, but he’s got big red hair and tons of personality,” scouting director Billy Gasparino said Friday. “We call him The Viper, because he has a unique arm action and produces plus stuff. He’s a fan favorite from our scouts’ point of view.””

Interestingly, the Dodgers did draft Oklahoma right-hander Connor Costello who got injured while eating a steak. You can read about that here via CBSSports.com.

Although the Dodgers did not make the MLB Daily Dish Top Five List via Michael Bradburn, the Dodgers did land shortstop Gavin Lux and right-hander Jordan Sheffield from this list. The Dodgers did not miss out on any talent, which some teams did. Furthermore, the Dodgers were given a “B” grade via Danny Webster with the Bleacher Report for their first day of the Draft.

Lastly, the Dodgers continued to follow the Bloodlines strategy with three such picks: shortstop Gavin Lux, outfielder Darien Tubbs, and right-hander Zach Taglieri.

Overall, the Dodgers had a solid draft, starting with shortstop Gavin Lux and Louisville catcher Will Smith. The Dodgers have the top farm system in baseball and they just added more depth through the Draft, which is part of The Dodger Doctrine.

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Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.


  1. This FO has to be at a point where their moves are obvious. Everyone but them knew that Crawford was better off viewing a game rather than playing it. So is this a suprise? Oh please don’t force them to think to much. When they do it’s goodbye DEE GORDON. Now they want us to focus on 2018 and beyond. If we do have the best minor league system, how long will it take these geeks to weed out the true talent from the pretenders? Then where does that leave the great Clayton Kershaw? He surely deserves better. Can their Analysis tell us about when do we become relevant again? I would reckon not..

  2. Robert Hamilton Considering we performed quite excellent in 2015 without Dee Gordon (and he is not suspended because of PEDs) I’d say the front office did a pretty darn good job last year when people like you were decrying the moves they made.  This year, the injury bug has unfortunately bit us pretty hard.  A large number of players are/have been hurt and landed on the DL (Ryu, McCarthy, Montas, Wood, Anderson, Garcia, Ethier, Van Slyke, Kendrick, Puig), or have been playing through injuries that haven’t forced them to the DL, yet (Gonzo, Grandal, Maeda).  We have had way more players on the DL than most other teams this year, yet we are still hanging fairly tough and managing to somehow stay above .500.  Despite the injuries, despite the bullpen that one month is lights out, and another is atrocious, despite the extremely inconsistent lineup outside of a handful of players, we are still within relative striking distance.  With all the reinforcements we have coming within the next two months both in players coming off the DL and expected/hoped for promotions, I think we will have an extremely strong 2nd half.

    Your argument is invalid and does not follow the logic of what has happened.  Do I wish we were doing better?  Most certainly!  Have I expected much given the bevy of injuries we have sustained?  No not really.

    Oh, and in regards to our farm system, yeah, every reputable baseball outlet has ours as the best (Baseball American, Prospectus, ESPN, MLB.com, most scouts, and most 3rd party sports sites/writers).  It is not only because we have great top end talent, but great depth at every level in multiple positions throughout our entire system.  Something very few teams can boast.

  3. Actually the injury list is large but mostly minor leaguer.  Only Rue,,  Eithier, are real major leaguers unless you still consider Anderson and Mccarthy still h useful,  which would be silly. The chance of even two of the injured pitchers being on next year’s roster is unlikely.  They are triple A ” depth” at best.

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