01/06/11 8:42 PM EST
Top Dodgers prospects set for minicamp
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Eight of last year's invitees appeared in the Major Leagues for the Dodgers during the season. They were Carlos Monasterios, James McDonald, John Ely, Jon Link, Travis Schlichting, Kenley Jansen, A.J. Ellis and Russell Mitchell.
Here's this year's invitation list for the minicamp, which runs through Jan. 15:
Pitchers: Chris Withrow, Rubby De La Rosa, Javy Guerra, Ethan Martin, Aaron Miller, Nathan Eovaldi, Steven Ames, Luis Vasquez.
Position players: Matt Wallach, Gorman Erickson, Justin Sellers, Dee Gordon, Kyle Russell, Trayvon Robinson, Jerry Sands, Pedro Baez.
The group includes last year's organization Pitcher of the Year (De La Rosa) and the past two Players of the Year (Gordon and Sands). Also included are three top-pick pitchers -- Withrow, Martin and Miller -- who have shown flashes of brilliance but haven't advanced through the system as quickly as hoped.
Guerra and Robinson will miss three days as they attend MLB's development program with prospects from other organizations. Guerra is recovering from a gash on his pitching hand.
The minicamp is designed to take the best and brightest of the farm system, accelerate their Major League arrival and aid acclimation to what they will encounter when they get there.
Among earlier participants are Clayton Kershaw and Blake DeWitt, who made impacts on the Major League club almost immediately. 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.
"This is not a rehab camp," Watson said. "This is a chance to take these 16 young men and give them a chance to work in a large park and get with our staff for one-on-one instruction. A lot of the guys who have come through the program have had an impact on our Major League club."
They receive coaching on baseball skills, but also get classroom instruction 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.
In addition to a daily workout at the stadium, the players will meet with former Dodgers and attend functions in the community, including: visits to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, L.A. Live, Staples Center for an L.A. Kings game and a meeting with NHL Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille, and Galen Center for the USC vs. UCLA basketball game. They will also meet with Dodgers legends including Tommy Lasorda and Don Newcombe and learn from Dodgers staffers about topics including diet and Major League travel. Prominent Los Angeles sports figures who have spoken to the program in the past include the late John Wooden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Joe Torre and Phil Jackson.
The primary instructors at the minicamp are the organizational roving instructors -- Rafael Chaves (pitching), Rodney McCray (outfield/base running), Eric Owens (hitting), Matt Martin (infield) and Travis Barbary (catching). In addition, new manager Don Mattingly will be joined by some of his Major League coaching staff, including third-base coach Tim Wallach, first-base coach Davey Lopes, batting coach Jeff Pentland and hitting instructor Dave Hansen. Special assistants Bill Mueller, Aaron Sele, Jose Vizcaino and Mark Sweeney also will participate.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.