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Draft class has Dodgers more than pumped

LOS ANGELES -- In 2002, the Dodgers came away with James Loney, Jonathan Broxton and Russell Martin on Draft day. The following year, the team uncovered Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp and A.J. Ellis. In '06, reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was taken in the first round.

Scouting director and assistant general manager Logan White is as excited about this year's Draft class as he was following each of the aforementioned ones after taking infielders Corey Seager with the 18th pick and Jesmuel Valentin at No. 51 on Monday.

"In 2002 and 2003, those were good Drafts, and I knew they were good Drafts," White said. "In 2006, I felt good because of Kershaw. Sometimes you get feels, and this one I'm ecstatic about. It's going to turn out to be a really good Draft. There's no question."

That feeling carried over each day, and 41 picks later, White is ecstatic about the talent the Dodgers were able to uncover in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

The team started things off on Day 1 with Seager and Valentin, a pair of shortstops with strong big league bloodlines. Seager, the younger brother of Mariners infielder Kyle Seager, was drafted as a shortstop out of Northwest Cabarrus High School in North Carolina, and he's committed to the University of South Carolina.

"A lot of people think he has to go to third [base]," White said Monday about Seager, who was named the 2012 Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year. "He has Cal Ripken size. [Seager is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds.] I think it's a mistake to move him off shortstop right away. Let him play and swing the bat. He's definitely an offensive player. He has a very good swing with power, and he's a good makeup guy."

The Dodgers then took the polished defender Valentin, the son of former Dodger Jose Valentin, with the compensation pick they received for losing Rod Barajas to free agency. Valentin was No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa's double-play partner for the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, and White said Valentin could one day move from shortstop to second base.

Despite going with a pair of infielders early, White said he targeted left-handed pitchers above all else, and that is exactly what he did to kick off Day 2. He took a pair of polished lefties in reliever Steven Rodriguez from the University of Florida and hard-throwing Cuban defector Onelki Garcia.

Rodriguez figures to be a Draft pick who should move through the system quickly, and he could be one of the first players from the 2012 Draft to hit the Majors. Garcia, whom White compared to a bigger, more physical Randy Wolf, is expected to come with a high price tag, but White said he's confident the team will be able to sign him.

After Tuesday, there was more balance as the Dodgers selected eight pitchers and seven hitters through the first 15 rounds. By the end of 40 rounds, the usually pitching-hungry team took 24 position players compared to 17 pitchers, 12 of whom are righties.

"That's just how it unfolded," White said. "We took the best available players we could. With any organization, once we get down later in the Draft, you are also filling out your ballclubs so a position guy will take a little more precedence over a pitcher if all things are equal, because you are trying to fill out a roster."

Other notable selections include fourth-round pick Justin Chigbogu, a powerful first baseman out of Raytown South High School in Missouri whom White compared to Mo Vaughn and Prince Fielder. In the fifth, the team took Texas A&M righty Ross Stripling, who led all of college baseball in wins (14) during the 2011 season.

In the 34th round on Wednesday, the team selected USC righty Jordan Hershiser, son of former Cy Young Award winner and Dodgers great Orel Hershiser.

"We didn't leave anybody on the board that we thought we could sign within the new rules and had a good signability," White said. "We went after everybody, and we were real aggressive."

Los Angeles Dodgers