Dodgers excited to land Withrow
High school right-hander draws comparisons to Smoltz
SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers selected Chris Withrow, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher from Midland (Texas) Christian High School, with their first-round pick in Thursday's First-Year Player Draft.
Withrow was 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA, 90 strikeouts and eight walks his senior year. He was ranked as the 44th-best player available by Baseball America and taken with the 20th pick overall, received from the Red Sox as compensation for the signing of free agent Julio Lugo.
"The year we took Chad Billingsley [in 2003], some people said we were reaching," said Logan White, assistant general manager of scouting. "I'm excited. We got a tall, rangy, athletic kid with outstanding mechanics and his arm action is as good as I've seen. He's a player with a very high ceiling, a frontline starter that we just need to develop the right way. He's got great makeup and with us, character matters."
Withrow is 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, and White compared him to a young John Smoltz in delivery and body type. Withrow's father, Mike, pitched in the White Sox Minor League system and was his pitching coach in school.
"I was completely shocked," said Withrow, who added that he didn't expect to be taken that high. "It's very overwhelming. My family went crazy. I'm very happy how things turned out."
The Dodgers' original first-round pick, No. 22 overall, went to the Giants as compensation for the signing of free agent Jason Schmidt.
The Dodgers also received a supplemental pick (39th overall) as further compensation for Lugo and with that selected University of Tennessee left-handed pitcher James Adkins, 21.
The 6-6, 225-pounder had an inconsistent junior year (5-7, 2.85 ERA), but reappeared on the Dodgers' radar by taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a Southeast Conference Tournament start. His out pitch is a sharp-breaking slider, and his fastball approaches 90 mph.
Adkins had shoulder surgery for an impingement before his sophomore season, but he's healthy now and White said he is eligible to move through the farm system quickly. The 39th overall pick last year, UCLA pitcher David Huff, signed with Cleveland for $900,000.
In the second round, the Dodgers chose Michael Watt, an 18-year-old left-handed pitcher from Capistrano Valley High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The 6-1, 185-pound Watt has a deceptive delivery and an effective breaking ball. He's pitched only four innings this season.
|20||Withrow, Christopher||Midland Christian HS||RHP|
|39||Adkins, James||U Tennessee||LHP|
|86||Watt, Michael||Capistrano Valley HS||LHP|
|116||Gallagher, Glenn||Manheim Township HS||3B|
|146||Lambo, Andrew||Newbury Park HS||RF|
|176||Blair, Kyle||Los Gatos HS||RHP|
In the third round, they chose 18-year-old Glenn Gallagher, a left-handed power-hitting third baseman from Manheim Township High School in Pennsylvania, who impressed White by sending drives into the Dodger Stadium pavilion during a tryout last week.
Their fourth-round pick was Andrew Lambo, drafted as a left-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman from Newbury Park High School in California, who sounds similar to James Loney in that he hits line drives and is smooth defensively around the first-base bag. He's 18 years old, 6-3 and he also pitched. He hit .453 and went 8-2 with a 1.61 ERA.
The Dodgers' fifth-round and final pick of the Draft's first day was Kyle Blair, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher from Los Gatos High School in Northern California, who dropped out of the first round because of signability questions.
He's 6-4, 200 pounds with an above-average fastball and slider. He's an all-conference water polo player who signed a letter-of-intent to attend the University of San Diego, and White conceded that Blair will not be an easy player to sign.
"He's a high-ceiling guy who knows how to pitch," White said. "We'll see what happens there."
As for Withrow, in addition to the professional bloodlines, he has clean mechanics and three pitches that have a chance to be above-average. His fastball is clocked regularly in the 91-93 mph range with a curve and changeup.
Last year's 20th overall pick, high school first baseman Chris Parmalee, was taken by Minnesota and signed quickly for a $1.5 million bonus. White said he anticipated no problem signing Withrow, who had committed to attend Baylor University. He is represented by Randy and Alan Hendricks, who also represent last year's top pick, Clayton Kershaw, and Dodgers starter Jason Schmidt.
White has taken a pitcher with five of his six first picks since taking over the Dodgers Draft in 2002. Four of those five were taken out of high school, his one college top pick being Luke Hochevar, who did not sign in 2005.
"We were a little worried that the team ahead of us [Philadelphia] was on [Withrow], but we were relieved when they went another way," said scouting director Tim Hallgren. "He's a Major League talent. I can't tell you how many years it will take, but he should be a solid starter.
"There aren't any real flaws in his delivery and mechanics. He's a very smart kid, an intelligent kid who competes along the lines of the kind of players we've tried to target in the past."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.