LOS ANGELES -- Top pitching prospect Zach Lee tops a group of 12 invited to the Dodgers' annual Winter Development Minicamp, which opens Saturday at the club's Camelback Ranch-Glendale training complex in Arizona.
Outfielder Yasiel Puig, the $42 million signing from Cuba who was on the original invitation list for the camp, instead will remain in Puerto Rico, where he is playing winter ball. As a member of the 40-man roster, Puig will be in Major League Spring Training camp.
That leaves a dozen prospects to participate in the minicamp, which usually is a fairly good indication of the players who management believes are closest to reaching the big leagues:
Pitchers (8): Steve Ames, Onelki Garcia, Lee, Matt Magill, Rob Rasmussen, Chris Reed, Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow. Ames and Withrow attended the camp last year; Rodriguez pitched effectively for the Dodgers in September, three months after being drafted; Lee is considered by MLB.com the top pitching prospect in the system.
Position players (4): catchers Tim Federowicz and Matt Wallach, outfielders Joc Pederson and Jeremy Moore. Federowicz attended the camp last year and joined the Dodgers in September.
Of the 15 players invited to last year's camp, eight of them reached the Major Leagues during the season (Michael Antonini, Rubby De La Rosa, Stephen Fife, Shawn Tolleson, Josh Wall, Alex Castellanos, Federowicz and Scott Van Slyke).
This year's group includes last year's organizational Player of the Year (Pederson), as well as two recent acquisitions: Rasmussen, a left-handed pitcher acquired from Houston in the John Ely trade, and Moore, a six-year outfielder who appeared briefly for the Angels in 2011 and was signed to a Minor League contract after missing the 2012 season with hip surgery.
This will be the sixth year of the developmental minicamp, which 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 Kenley Jansen. Dodgers vice president 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 the 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. Manager Don Mattingly, Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and former players Maury Wills and Eric Karros are among the expected guest speakers.
Previous camps have been held at Dodger Stadium, which is undergoing major construction upgrades this winter and is unavailable.