Time to head to Hollywood for our amateur signing bonus series. Here come the Dodgers…
- Zach Lee, $5.25MM (2010)
- Clayton Kershaw, $2.3MM (2006)
- Joel Guzman, $2.255MM (2001)
- Ben Diggins, $2.2MM (2000)
- Ethan Martin, $1.7325MM (2008)
With the McCourt's divorce still ongoing and the team facing an uncertain financial situation, many assumed that the Dodgers were punting the 28th overall pick in this year's draft by selecting Lee. The talented righthander was considered extremely tough to sign, using a scholarship to LSU as one of the nation's best quarterbacks recruits as leverage. The Dodgers could have claimed to have made Lee a fair offer, then taken the 29th overall pick in the 2011 draft as compensation if they didn't sign him. Except they did sign him, so give them credit. Lee didn't pitch after signing and will start his career next season.
Kershaw was the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft, the first high school player selected in a class dominated by college arms (and Evan Longoria). After just 44 minor league starts (and four relief appearances), Kershaw was pitching in the the big leagues as a 20-year-old. Two-plus seasons into his career, the lefty owns a 3.17 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 4.2 BB/9, as well as the top spot in Los Angeles' rotation.
The Dodgers signed Guzman out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old and allowed him to steadily climb the minor league ladder. He made his major league debut in June 2006, and his first career start came as a cleanup hitter. Unfortunately Guzman didn't live up to the bonus or hype, hitting .211/.348/.211 in just 23 plate appearances before being sent back down. The Dodgers dealt Guzman to the then-Devil Rays a few weeks later for Julio Lugo. He hasn't appeared in a big league game since 2007, but is still toiling away in the minors.
Diggins, drafted out of the University of Arizona with the 17th overall pick in 2000, made his pro debut in 2001 and had was solid: 3.58 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 4.1 BB/9. He was better the next year (3.20 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9), but the Dodgers traded him and another minor leaguer to Milwaukee for Tyler Houston and a player to be named a week before the 2002 trade deadline. Diggins appeared in five games with the Brewers that season, but was out of baseball a few years later after having Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks.
Martin was the team's first round pick in 2008 (15th overall), but he didn't make a good first impression. He suffered a season ending knee injury almost immediately after signing, and didn't debut until 2009. Martin's currently working his way up through the system; in 213.1 career innings, he's posted a 9.5 K/9, 6.0 BB/9 and 6.35 ERA.
We're not counting Japanese veterans in this series even though they have zero MLB experience when signing, but Hiroki Kuroda's $7.3MM bonus would easily top the list. Hideo Nomo received $2MM when he came stateside.