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01/11/10 9:39 PM ET
Prospects attend Dodgers' minicamp
Development Program focuses on skills, MLB essentials
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers let the world know which farmhands might soon make a Major League impact by "inviting" them to an annual two-week developmental minicamp, which opened Monday at Dodger Stadium. Here's the invitation list: Pitchers -- Armando Zerpa, Carlos Monasterios, John Ely, Jon Link, Brent Leach, Travis Schlicting, Josh Lindblom, Chris Withrow, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Aaron Miller and Ethan Martin. Catchers -- A.J. Ellis and Lucas May. Infielders -- Russell Mitchell, Ivan DeJesus and Dee Gordon. Outfielders -- Andrew Lambo and Trayvon Robinson. This is the third year of the developmental minicamp, which is designed to take the best and brightest of the farm system, accelerate their Major League arrival and acclimate them to what they will encounter when they get there. The success of previous invitees -- including Clayton Kershaw and Blake DeWitt -- virtually assures it becoming an annual event. The club is tweaking the program this year to allow for more personalized feedback for each player. Assistant general manager De Jon Watson's minicamp also allows club officials to get a line on each player's conditioning prior to Spring Training and to tweak flaws in a pitcher's delivery or a hitter's swing before the start of the real camp, where the player is focused on making a club. They receive coaching on baseball skills, but also are instructed in aspects of Major League Baseball that should be essential but often are overlooked, from media relations to security issues to interaction with fans and the importance of community outreach. The group will dine Wednesday night with a collection of Dodgers legends -- Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Tim Wallach, Charlie Hough and "Sweet" Lou Johnson. The players will take part in a hospital visit Thursday and will participate in the Martin Luther King Day Parade in Los Angeles on Monday. They will also all attend the Scouts Foundation dinner Saturday night and the Kings game on Jan. 19. At the minicamp, the organization will get its first look at Zerpa and Monasterios, who were Rule 5 Draft selections last month, and Ely and Link, acquired from the White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade. Leach gave the Dodgers two effective months, then struggled and was returned to the Minor Leagues. Schlichting, a converted infielder who has pitched full-time for three years, was a dark-horse candidate to make the bullpen last spring until injuring his back and still made a cameo in Los Angeles. Lindblom nearly made the club out of Minor League camp in the spring and will be in the mix for a starting job. Withrow is considered the organization's top starting prospect, followed closely by the less experienced Miller and Martin. Guerra, a reliever, turned his career around in his sixth Minor League season, while Jansen is a recently converted catcher who throws hard. Ellis could be the Major League backup to Russell Martin, if he doesn't push Martin for playing time. May rebounded last season and figures to open the year at Triple-A. Mitchell is a corner infielder with power, but needs to improve his plate discipline. DeJesus figured to be competing for a Major League job this spring, but he broke his leg last spring and is still in recovery mode. Gordon is considered the organization's best position prospect. Lambo had a disappointing 2009 season, but rebounded in the Arizona Fall League. Robinson has ample tools and displayed power for the first time in his breakthrough 2009 season. Schlichting and DeJesus will cut short their participation and report to the MLB developmental program.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.