LOS ANGELES -- If you like Toronto's Marcus Stroman or Houston's Lance McCullers, the Dodgers hope you'll soon like their first-round pick in Monday's 2018 MLB Draft. Those are the pitchers scouting director Billy Gasparino offered as comparisons to J.T. Ginn, the Mississippi high school right-handed pitcher Gasparino selected.• Draft
LOS ANGELES -- If you like Toronto's Marcus Stroman or Houston's Lance McCullers, the Dodgers hope you'll soon like their first-round pick in Monday's 2018 MLB Draft. Those are the pitchers scouting director Billy Gasparino offered as comparisons to J.T. Ginn, the Mississippi high school right-handed pitcher Gasparino selected.
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"Premium velocity that goes with great movement," Gasparino said of Ginn. "He's got the pitch quality right now. How fast it comes, we think he's advanced. Now, it's working on the finer points."
The 19-year-old Ginn, taken with the 30th overall pick, is a 6-1, 199-pounder from Brandon High School with a high-90s mph fastball. Ginn was selected the Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Mississippi and has a commitment to attend Mississippi State University.
In the second round (68th overall selection), the Dodgers took 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Michael Grove from West Virginia University, who missed the 2018 season recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
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Gasparino used Walker Buehler as an example of the club's success in returning Tommy John patients to pre-surgery performance levels. Buehler had Tommy John surgery shortly after he was Gasparino's first pick in 2015.
Ginn went 5-1 with a 0.36 ERA, 78 strikeouts and nine walks in 39 1/3 innings this year. He made eight appearances, seven starts, with three complete games and a no-hitter. In addition to pitching, he played shortstop in high school and this year hit .419 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs. Ginn was the No. 33 prospect in the Draft according to MLB Pipeline.
Aside from Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers' track record drafting high school pitchers in the first round is spotty. But because Ginn is 19, Gasparino believes the risk is reduced.
"He has premium velocity with a lot of movement and we've seen him develop a better delivery this year," said Gasparino. "We feel he'll be a starter for us one day. We think he's advanced. With his body, ligaments, tendons, tissue -- he's just had one more year to mature, another year of proving he can handle the workload. The added age is a positive in his case."
Gasparino said the Dodgers drafted Ginn as a starting pitcher, not a reliever or a hitter, although he's done both well.
"We heard on TV about him being a reliever," said Gasparino. "I think there was some confusion about him pitching relief early in the season. He went seven innings four times. I think it was a little misinformation. He has premium stuff with a controlled delivery and we think that's a good foundation to be a starter."
The recommended slot signing bonus for the 30th overall pick is $2,275,800. The slot for the 68th pick is $917,000. Gasparino said he hadn't spoken with either player since their selections and wouldn't speculate on their signability.
"We really hope to sign both kids," he said.
Gasparino said the Dodgers thought highly of Grove before he was injured and were comfortable with medical reports that he will heal 100 percent from the surgery he had 12 months ago.
"We felt like his talent level matched that pick number and with our comfort level from last year. It made sense for us," said Gasparino, who has proved in his four Dodgers Drafts that he won't shy away from Tommy John recipients.
"We feel confident in our development people and medical staff to get these pitchers back to where they were. The Walker Buehler example is a good one and we hope to repeat it with Grove."
This is Gasparino's fourth Dodgers Draft. With the first pick in the other three, he went with a college pitcher (Buehler), a high school shortstop (Gavin Lux) and a college outfielder (Jeren Kendall).
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.