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Dodgers draft 8 college players on Day 2

@kengurnick
June 4, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- And on the second day of the MLB Draft, the Dodgers went back to college. After taking slugging college infielders Kody Hoese (Tulane) and Michael Busch (UNC) then veering to high school pitcher Billy Lewis with the final pick on Day 1, scouting director Billy Gasparino and

LOS ANGELES -- And on the second day of the MLB Draft, the Dodgers went back to college.

After taking slugging college infielders Kody Hoese (Tulane) and Michael Busch (UNC) then veering to high school pitcher Billy Lewis with the final pick on Day 1, scouting director Billy Gasparino and the Dodgers made eight selections on Tuesday and all were college players, headed by Butler right-handed pitcher Ryan Pepiot in the third round.

Draft Tracker | Draft Central
Dodgers take Tulane slugger with first pick

That makes 10 of the Dodgers' first 11 picks this year from college, which is the franchise’s tendency since Andrew Friedman arrived as president of baseball operations. Last year, it was 11 of the first 13. The year before, nine of the first 10. It was 10 of the first 11 in 2016 and 10 of the first 12 in 2015.

Signable college players allow clubs to reallocate bonus money to higher picks. The Dodgers have $8,069,100 to spend on their first 11 picks, with $2,740,300 designated for the 25th overall pick (Hoese), $2,312,000 for the 31st pick (Busch) and $793,800 for the 78th pick (Lewis).

Round 3: Ryan Pepiot, RHP, 21, Butler University
MLB Pipeline listed Pepiot as having the best changeup in the Draft. He is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound starting pitcher who also has a low-to-mid 90s fastball but an inconsistent breaking ball. He was 4-4 with a 3.92 ERA and an eye-popping 126 strikeouts in 78 innings, but also 44 walks and 15 hit batters. He was a three-sport star who opened eyes in last summer’s Cape Cod League. Pepiot broke Pat Neshek’s school career strikeout record.

Round 4: Brandon Lewis, 3B, 21, UC Irvine
The 6-foot-3 Lewis underwent a body transformation, losing 70 pounds from early high school, through two years of baseball at Pierce Junior College and one season at UC Irvine, where he has unleashed his raw right-handed power. While batting .315 this year, he tied the school single-season record with 14 homers and added 54 RBIs. MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo suggests Lewis might need to move to first base or left field. He has been compared to Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins.

Round 5: Jack Little, RHP, 21, Stanford
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Little tied Stanford's single-season saves record (16) in 2018 after going undrafted out of high school in Las Vegas because of his college commitment. He had a 3.32 ERA with 12 saves and 50 strikeouts in 30 innings. He has a starter’s four-pitch mix rather than a typical closer’s overpowering heat. That qualifies him to fit the Dodgers’ fondness for versatility as a swing man.

Round 6: Aaron Ochsenbein, RHP, 23, Eastern Kentucky
Ochsenbein’s 2016 season was cut short by Tommy John surgery, but he had an 0.83 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings as a closer this year. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-hander has a high-90s fastball and high-80s splitter. Having been granted a redshirt season, Ochsenbein already has an undergraduate degree in aviation and is in grad school at Eastern Kentucky. His college coach, Edwin Thompson, also coached Marcus Stroman and said Ochsenbein is as dominant.

Round 7: Nick Robertson, RHP, 21, James Madison
Robertson had eight saves as the closer for JMU and is an imposing figure at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds. His fastball tops out at 96 mph and his secondary pitches still need some work. He went 5-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings this season. He missed the 2017 season with an injury.

Round 8: Ryan Ward, LF, 21, Bryant University
Ward rebounded from a broken wrist suffered during the 2017 season to hit .409 in 2018 while posting the greatest offensive season in school history. The left-handed pure hitter really didn’t tail off in 2019, batting .382 with 13 homers. He’s 5-foot 11, 198 pounds.

Round 9: Alex Gamboa, LHP, 22, Fresno CC
Originally enrolled at Fresno State, Gamboa transferred and returned from 2017 Tommy John surgery to make 18 appearances this year for Fresno CC, going 8-1 with a 1.97 ERA, 97 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 64 innings. His fastball reaches 93 mph. Gamboa worked out at Dodger Stadium a week ago. He has a commitment to Keiser University.

Round 10: Zac Ching, SS, 22, Va. Commonwealth U
Ching is a signable college senior with a contact bat that delivered a .310 average this year. He’s 5-foot-9, 180 pounds and he spent a year at the IMG Academy after high school.

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 on MLB.com beginning at 9 a.m. PT.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.