Credit Dodgers' scouting director Logan White for ensuring that Clayton Kershaw's big league successes have come in a Dodger uniform, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The club had targeted Kershaw and Evan Longoria in the 2006 draft, but were worried that neither would last until the team's seventh overall pick. Several pieces had to fall into place: Luke Hochevar failed to sign in 2005, leading to his being taken first overall the next year. Meanwhile, with many scouts on hand for the last pre-draft starts of Kershaw and Brad Lincoln, the former struggled while the latter dominated. Lincoln went fourth overall to the Pirates. According to White, with Longoria already off the board to the Rays, the Dodgers "were hoping and praying Clayton would get to us." That's just what happened: consensus top arm Andrew Miller fell, perhaps owing to signabilty concerns, and was nabbed by the Tigers at number six, leaving Kershaw for L.A. The decision to take Kershaw caused some initial consternation when Tim Lincecum, taken with the tenth pick by the rival Giants, began his career with a bang. Now, of course, the Dodgers (and their fans) could not be more pleased with their selection. Here are a few more notes from the leagues' western divisions:
- With the Rockies off to an up-and-down start, the Denver Post's Woody Paige has some harsh words for the team's ownership and management. He says that, with a top-12 attendance but a bottom-7 payroll, the club appears "content to produce a .500 team." Among the decisions Paige disagrees with are the team's apparent intention to rely on veteran pitchers like Roy Oswalt and Jon Garland while former top prospect Drew Pomeranz toils in Triple-A and Tyler Chatwood bounces between the minors and the big club. He also faults the club for going with the now-departed Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac instead of bringing up Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu to start the season. He warns that the Rockies could be in danger of losing the affections of stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Unhappy superstars can always cause problems by demanding a trade, of course, but it is worth noting that Colorado has no immediate need to sell its shortstop and left fielder on staying in town. Tulowitzki is inked through at least 2020 (with a 2021 club option), while Gonzalez is under contract through 2017.
- Despite four starters on the disabled list, the Rangers lead the American League in ERA (3.38). Richard Justice of MLB.com writes that the success of the pitching staff is attributable to GM Jon Daniels's efforts to create a deep, talented organization. Likewise, Justice praises Daniels's confidence to enter the season without prior stalwarts Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara, and to bring in veterans Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski on one-year deals. The 37-year-old Berkman, in particular, has hit .299/.422/.465 in 154 plate appearances as the club's primary DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says it is still too early for the club to narrow down its likely pick with the first choice in the upcoming amateur draft, tweets Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The club will likely have more clarity when it conducts staff meetings in early June, Smith further tweets.
- As the Astros gear up for an important draft, the club is holding a series of four regional player workouts, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. According to scouting director Mike Elias, the workouts will allow the club to "get up close and personal with the process and see some guys further down the list." He further notes that the process was utilized with success by the Cardinals: "It really helps those players get drafted and helps us make better decisions in the draft."
- Meanwhile, Houston is beginning to see returns from its efforts to develop a pipeline of talent from the Dominican Republic. According to another tweet from Smith, Luhnow is excited about the first Dominican prospect that the club's efforts produced. Jose Cisnero, a right-hander that was originally signed in 2007, checked in at fifteenth on Baseball America's ranking of the club's prospects and has been pitching from the club's bullpen this year.