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Dodgers' Draft strategy? Take the best available

LA eyes pitcher Espino with first pick at No. 25
@kengurnick
June 3, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers almost never reveal strategy, except for the MLB Draft, insisting they take the best player available, no matter what. They have two of the first 31 picks in the 2019 Draft, which will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers almost never reveal strategy, except for the MLB Draft, insisting they take the best player available, no matter what.

They have two of the first 31 picks in the 2019 Draft, which will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 41 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.

Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, mock drafts from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

Overall pick No. 25 is the Dodgers’ first-round pick and overall pick No. 31 is a compensation pick received for not signing last year’s first-round pick, high school pitcher J.T. Ginn, who instead attended LSU.

Scouting director Billy Gasparino said the organization’s approach to the Draft is unwavering, whether he has two high picks or not, whether last year’s pick signed or not, whether the talent pool is deep or shallow.

“Andrew [Friedman] and Stan [Kasten] deserve credit for taking the long view of how our Draft operation collects talent. We take the best player available and figure out the signability. And in the case last year, we do get a pick back and we’ll be aggressive again.”

Here’s how the Draft is shaping up for the Dodgers, whose first selection is the 25th overall pick.

In about 50 words

The Dodgers have ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 10 Minor League systems each year since 2015, placing seventh this year. In addition to the 25th and 31st overall picks, the Dodgers have the 78th, 102nd and 131st picks in the first four rounds.

What they’re saying

“Some teams aren’t as excited about the player pool this year as we are. We’re really comfortable with the quality of players we feel will be available when we pick. With a little luck, our spots will match the strength of the Draft.” -- Gasparino

Who might they take?

MLB Pipeline’s latest mock Draft projects the Dodgers taking Georgia high school right-handed pitcher Daniel Espino with the 25th overall pick and Florida shortstop Brady McConnell with the 31st overall pick. Espino, and several other top prospects, were at Dodger Stadium on Monday. Other players MLB Pipeline has linked to the Dodgers are Kody Hoese, a third baseman from Tulane; Tyler Callihan, a high school third baseman from Florida; Logan Davidson, a shortstop from Clemson; Brennan Malone, a right-handed high school pitcher from Florida; and Brooks Lee, a high school shortstop from California.

Money matters

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

The Dodgers have $8,069,100 to spend on their first 10 picks with $2,740,300 designated for the 25th overall pick in the first-round; $2,312,000 for the 31st overall pick (compensation for not signing 2018 pick J.T. Ginn); $793,800 for the 78th overall pick (compensation for Yasmani Grandal); $571,400 for the 102nd overall pick in the third round; $430,800 for the 131st pick in the fourth round; $321,100 for the 161st pick in the fifth round; $249,000 for the 191st pick in the sixth round; $195,700 for the 221st pick in the seventh round; $163,400 for the 251st pick in the eighth round; $150,100 for the 281st pick in the ninth round and $142,300 for the 311th pick in the 10th round. In the past, the Dodgers have been rigid about not exceeding the threshold that would cost a first-round pick.

Shopping list

The organizational need is left-handed pitching and outfielders. They always load up on pitching. And they also haven’t drafted and developed an All-Star second baseman since Steve Sax (Dee Gordon was drafted as a shortstop).

Trend watch

This is the fifth Draft of the current management team. Gasparino is the director of amateur scouting, but top brass Andrew Friedman, Josh Byrnes and David Finley are also heavily involved in a group effort. With the first pick in their first four Drafts, they went with a college pitcher (Walker Buehler), a high school shortstop (Gavin Lux), a college outfielder (Jeren Kendall) and a high school pitcher (J.T. Ginn, who did not sign). They like college players, drafting 34 of them with 40 picks last year.

“Money plays into it, but the underlying philosophy is that college players are probably a better asset,” Gasparino said. “And they can get better. It gets understated, but they show up in the big leagues. We really believe in that play and we go to it a lot.”

Recent Draft History

Top Dodgers picks for the last five years

2018 -- J.T. Ginn, RHP, did not sign, attending LSU
2017 -- Jeren Kendall, OF, Class A Rancho Cucamonga
2016 -- Gavin Lux, SS, Double-A Tulsa
2015 -- Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 -- Grant Holmes, RHP, Double-A Midland (Oakland)

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