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White, DePodesta stay true to word
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06/07/2004  9:10 PM ET
White, DePodesta stay true to word
Draft duo mixes high school and college talent
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Paul DePodesta (left) and Logan White work in the Dodgers' draft room Monday. (Mark Langill/Dodgers)

LOS ANGELES -- In the days leading up to the First-Year Player Draft, with the industry speculating on whether new Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta would pressure scouting director Logan White into taking more proven college players than high-ceiling high school talent, both executives indicated the Dodgers likely would blend both.

They told the truth. The Dodgers relied on high school players at the top of their draft (three of the first four), then loaded up on college players as the day went on. Of their 20 picks, 14 were college players (four junior college), most taken in the lower rounds (nine of the last 10) to fill in gaps in the farm system. But four of the six high school players were taken in the first six selections.

That included both first-round picks -- Missouri high schoolers Scott Elbert, a left-handed pitcher from Seneca High School, and Blake DeWitt, an offensive-minded infielder from Sikeston High School, taken with a compensation pick received from the New York Yankees for their signing of Dodgers free agent reliever Paul Quantrill. DeWitt was one of 11 hitters White took.


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"A lot has been made of the 'Moneyball' thing and Paul and I get a kick out of it and sometimes get annoyed," White said of the book that documented DePodesta's preference for college players. "We decided to take the best player available. I learned to utilize statistical analysis (DePodesta's specialty) and Paul's learned about mechanics, delivery and makeup. We put the two together and had a really solid draft. We had a really good draft."

With the supplemental pick (No. 33 overall) received as added compensation for the loss of Quantrill, the Dodgers landed Justin Orenduff, a polished right-handed pitcher from Virginia Commonwealth University. The 21-year-old fits White's prototype pitcher's build at 6-foot-4 and 205.

Although only 5-5 this season with a 2.43 ERA, he struck out 129 with 34 walks in 84 innings. Orenduff pitched for Team USA last year, relies on a sinker and slider and was ranked No. 21 in the nation by Baseball America. White said he could reach the Major Leagues in three years.

In the second round the Dodgers took Blake Johnson, a right-handed pitcher from Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge, La. He is 6-foot-4, 195 and has been compared by White to a young Kevin Brown. Like Orenduff, he is projected as a starter, in part because of an advanced curveball and what White calls a "perfect" delivery. He went 8-3 with a 1.31 ERA and 116 strikeouts and 15 walks in 64 innings.

Third-round pick Corey Dunlap, a first baseman from Contra Costa College, is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound 20-year-old, left-handed all the way. White calls Dunlap a Tony Gwynn look-alike in body and swing, who hit .580 this year with only four strikeouts in 130 at-bats. He went to high school with Dontrelle Willis and has shed nearly 70 pounds in the last two years.

In the fourth round, right-handed pitcher Luis Guerra was taken by the Dodgers out of Billy Ryan High School in Denton, Texas. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has a maximum-effort delivery and has ironed out a crow-hop that raised questions about its legality. It was good enough for him to go 9-1 with a 0.85 ERA and 93 strikeouts against only 18 walks in 58 innings.

The Dodgers took left fielder John Raglani out of George Washington University in the fifth round. He is a 6-foot-2, 215-pound 21-year-old with a line-drive swing who made his mark in the Cape Cod League last summer but played with a broken hamate bone in his hand this season and hit .322 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs. Defensively, he is strictly a left fielder. White said he will have routine surgery to remove the broken bone this month.

White said he was looking for bats and he got one in the sixth round -- first baseman Daniel Batz, from Rhode Island University. He is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and is built like J.D. Drew. He's a right-handed hitter with a quick stroke that uses all fields. Batz batted .406 with 12 homers, 24 doubles and 59 RBIs in 187 at-bats, 29 walks and 14 strikeouts.

In the seventh round, the Dodgers selected right fielder B.J. Richmond, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina, who bats and throws left-handed. He redshirted at the University of South Carolina last year and this year hit .457 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Here's how the rest of the first session went: arlos Medero-Stullz, a strong defensive catcher from Barbara Goleman High School built like Bengie Molina; David Nicholson, a second baseman from the University of California who went to high school with top Dodgers pitching prospect Greg Miller; Cory Wade, a right-handed pitcher from Kentucky Wesleyan University; Christopher Westervelt, a catcher from Stetson University compared in build to Kelly Stinnett; Sam Steidl, a center fielder from the University of Minnesota compared to Todd Walker; Jeffrey Larish, a power-hitting left fielder from the Arizona State; Brian Akin, a right-handed pitcher from Davidson University; Joseph Savery, a left-handed pitcher from Lamar High School in Houston, compared in build to Al Leiter; Chase Dardar, a right-handed pitcher from Delgado College; Daniel Forrer, a left-handed pitcher from Chipola College compared to former Dodger Terry Mulholland; and Matthew Paul, a second baseman from Southern University and the older brother of Xavier Paul, last year's fourth-round pick.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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