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Los Angeles Dodgers 2015 Draft Preview: Plenty Of Picks And Options

Allen J. Schaben-Los Angeles Times
Allen J. Schaben-Los Angeles Times

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5. Ian Happ, OF (Cincinatti)

Happ is a college performer, one of the better hitters in the country, hitting .369 with 14 homers and as many walks as strikeouts in his junior campaign. He shows a smooth stroke from both sides of the plate and stole 12 bases in 20 tries this spring.

Defensively, Happ has moved to the outfield after playing second base as a freshman, but he should be able to hold his own in a corner and hit more than enough for any position.

4. Austin Smith, RHP (Park Vista HS, FL)

Smith has some things going for him that I really like. He’s already a big kid at 6’4 and 215 lbs. He generates easy velocity, sneaking into the mid 90s, with little effort in his delivery. His breaking ball and changeup show promise and he can throw strikes. The 24th pick may be a little high for him, but the Dodgers could snag him at No. 35 or gamble on him lasting until Nos. 67 or 74.

3. Cody Ponce, RHP (Cal Poly Pomona)

Another pitcher who suffered an injury this spring. Ponce battled “shoulder fatigue” this season but still was able to make 11 starts. He improved dramatically from his sophomore year but was still pitching against inferior competition.

Last summer, he pitched well in the Cape Cod League, the premier summer league for college players. Ponce has a workhorse build at 6’5 and 235 lbs. He has a four pitch mix, with his fastball touching the mid 90s and should offer at least one above average breaking ball.

Also in his favor are the facts that he lists the Dodgers as his favorite MLB team and Clayton Kershaw as his favorite MLB player. While he doesn’t necessarily have the upside of Michael Matuella, his cleaner bill of health makes him a safer option.

2. Michael Matuella, RHP (Duke)

Matuella looked like a potential No. 1 pick last year, but like so many pitchers this year, he suffered an injury in spring. He blew out his elbow and required Tommy John surgery, so he’s not going to pitch competitively until next summer, but taking prospects on the mend is the new fad in the draft. Just look at players like Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde from last year.

Adding to the Tommy John surgery, Matuella hasn’t exactly been a bastion of health during his college career. He averaged 58 innings between his freshman and sophomore years, splitting time between the rotation and bullpen as a freshman, then moving to the rotation full time last spring.

This year, he lasted just six starts before going under the knife. He was also diagnosed with spondilosys, a manageable back condition, last year. There’s considerable risk here, but Matuella offers a fastball that’s been into the upper 90s in the past to go along with a power breaking ball when he’s right.

ESPN’s Keith Law mentioned the Dodgers are interested in him and, with multiple picks in the first three rounds, could go over slot to sign him if need be.

1. Kolby Allard, LHP (San Clemente HS, CA)

Allard first caught my eye in last year’s Perfect Game All American Classic, an annual high school all star game played at Petco Park. All he did was strike out the side, sitting 93-94 with his live fastball and mixing in a sharp breaking ball.

He’s not that big, listed at 6’ but likely an inch or two shorter and, while his arm works well in his delivery, he relies heavily on generating torque with his torso, which may or may not have led to a “stress reaction” in his lower back this spring.

It’s something to think about in terms of future durability, though not as major a concern as a shoulder or elbow ailment. After missing a few months, Allard is back on the mound just before the draft, so if he is showing the same stuff he showed at the PGAAC, he could see his stock rise rapidly as the draft approaches.

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