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Dodgers focus on pitching, college in 2014 Draft

The 2014 First-Year Player Draft was an arms race, and the Dodgers came away with several polished ones.

It began with the powerful right arm of Grant Holmes, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound 18-year-old from Conway (S.C.) High School, whom Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Logan White said is "a lot better pitcher than [the 22nd overall pick]."

The Dodgers' first-round selection throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 100 mph, and he adds a breaking ball that some analysts have called one of the best of the Draft class. Holmes said he's still working on developing his changeup to be more of a consistent weapon, but it didn't hurt him at Conway High this season. Holmes pitched to a 0.52 ERAA and struck out 82 batters against just 16 walks in 40 innings pitched.

Holmes leads a wave of incoming pitchers -- assuming they sign. The Dodgers drafted 21 pitchers overall (19 right-handed), including six with their first 10 picks. They drafted nine infielders, eight outfielders and two catchers, with 32 of the Dodgers' 40 picks coming from college.

"Hopefully, we all can do good and get moved up as quick as possible," Holmes said.

The Dodgers dipped into the collegiate pool early for most of those arms, taking UNLV 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-hander John Richy with their third-round pick (98th overall), whom White called "a bulldog on the mound."

Tommy John surgery didn't deter the Dodgers, who drafted two post-surgery pitchers within the first 10 rounds. The Dodgers have clocked University of Washington right-hander Jeff Brigham (fourth round, No. 129) as high as 98 mph, with a developing slider and changeup. And seventh-round pick Trevor Oaks (No. 219), a California Baptist University right-hander, said he feels like he didn't even have the surgery.

The Dodgers also selected a pair of college closers early, in the form of ninth-round pick Matt Campbell (No. 279) of Clemson and 11th-rounder A.J. Vanegas (No. 339) of Stanford -- both right-handers.

In terms of position players, the Dodgers selected McEachern (Ga.) High School infielder Jared Walker (fifth round, No. 159) and Texas Tech catcher Hunter Redman (eighth round, No. 249) on Day 2, and their second overall selection, Alex Verdugo (second round, No. 62) was a two-way star at Sahuaro (Ariz.) High School. The left-hander throws 90-94 mph on the mound with a plus curveball, but for now, he will play in the outfield.

"His bat is really good," White told "He reminds me a lot of [No. 2 Dodgers prospect] Joc Pederson, and maybe that's an unfair comparison to put on him at the moment. But there's similarities in the way they run and the way their athleticism is, and stuff like that. And I think he's going to go out and be a really good hitter."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for
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