Dodgers Team News

Dodgers News: Exec Explains LA’s Decision to Draft College QB DJ Uiagalelei

The Dodgers made one of the more interesting selections during this years MLB Draft, taking former Clemson and now Oregon State quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei with the 610th overall pick. It was one of those picks that made you question the thought process behind it because Uiagalelei has made it clear that he intends to focus primarily on football.

But the Dodgers decided it was worth a flier of a pick and they now have access to him if he ever does choose to go down the baseball route. Uiagalelei was a two-sport athlete in high school but he chose to lean towards football upon joining Clemson. He hasn’t played baseball at a top level since his high school days but his is listed as a pitcher, infielder and outfielder so he could possibly provide some two-way production down the line.

Amateur scouting Vice President Billy Gasparino gave some insight into why the team decided to draft the quarterback, adding in that the team is “serious” about Uiagalelei.

“I know he’s putting football first, and I know this is a big season for him and his NFL Draft status,” Gasparino said. “We just want to kind of keep him in play and keep the conversation going as a possibility, if that [football] path doesn’t work out.”

Per The LA Times

Uiagalelei has been known for being the successor to star quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the Tigers but after a solid start, his career went downwards quick. He threw for more interceptions than touchdowns in 2021 and while he improved in 2022, he decided to move on from Clemson. He hopes that the move to Oregon State will give him a fresh start and he can continue his football career.

The team has been in contact with the former two-sport athlete for a while now and they believe that he still wants to play baseball.

“But before he suited up for the Beavers, he did get a call from the Los Angeles Dodgers to see if he wanted to give baseball another shot, he said, offering a spot at a tryout. He appreciated the invitation but wasn’t tempted.”

Per The Athletic

This is one of those chess type moves that the Dodgers make that could pan out after some patience. The fact that he wasn’t able to succeed with Clemson is curious and the Dodgers are watching how he plays at Oregon State carefully. They have given him the easy transition to baseball should he struggle again this season.

One of the Dodgers area scouts, Jonah Rosenthal, gave his insight into how Uiagalelei could be if he were to choose the baseball path at some point.

“We very rarely run into a skill set that DJ has,” Rosenthal said. “Superb athlete. Really big-time arm strength. Really great body and potential. And at the end of the day, if [football] doesn’t work out for him, I think this is really legitimate. I think this is a path he would really want to go down.”

Per The LA Times

LA is determined to play the long game here and it could end up working out in their favor. This is a low-risk draft pick that could end up blossoming into something so the team made a calculated risk.

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Matt Levine

Matt earned a Master of Science degree in Sport Management from Louisiana State University in 2021. He was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, growing up a huge fan of the Dodgers and Lakers. Matt Kemp was his favorite Dodgers player growing up.

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