Top prospects set for camp at Dodger Stadium
Pederson, Lee among 15 big league hopefuls invited to Winter Development Program
LOS ANGELES -- Fifteen of the organization's top prospects, including Joc Pederson and Zach Lee, will be brought to Los Angeles next week for the Dodgers' seventh annual Winter Development Program.
In addition to Pederson and Lee, invitees are outfielder and Dodgers position player of the year Scott Schebler; Rule 5 pitching acquisition Seth Rosin; infield defensive specialist Miguel Rojas; recent 40-man roster additions Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia and Jarret Martin; 2013 big league call-ups Jose Dominguez, Matt Magill and Nick Buss; pitching prospects Chris Reed and Ross Stripling; and catching prospects Pratt Maynard and Chris O'Brien.
Rojas might be the most intriguing of the group, as general manager Ned Colletti dropped his name as an option to play second base this year if Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero isn't ready and the club decides to go strong defensively. Rojas has a .234 career batting average in eight Minor League seasons, but some who watched him in a few Spring Training games last year compared his defensive skills with 11-time Gold Glove Award winner Omar Vizquel.
The Winter Development Program, started by vice president of player development De Jon Watson, is designed to take the best and brightest of the farm system, accelerate their Major League arrival and aid acclimation to what they will encounter when they get there. Players will participate in workouts and seminars, plus get a taste of Dodgers community outreach with a visit to A Place Called Home, a youth center in South Los Angeles.
Among earlier participants were Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen. Watson's minicamp also allows club officials to get a line on each player's conditioning prior to Spring Training and to tweak flaws in a pitcher's delivery or a hitter's swing before the start of the real camp, when the player will be focused on making the club.
Those attending receive coaching on baseball skills, but they also are instructed in aspects of Major League Baseball that should be essential but often are overlooked -- from media relations to security issues to interaction with fans.
In addition to sessions with manager Don Mattingly and Colletti, the players will spend time with Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, former players Maury Wills, Eric Karros and Shawn Green, and club president Stan Kasten.
Five of the 11 participants in last year's Winter Development Program played in the Major Leagues in 2013 -- Magill, Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow, Tim Federowicz and Steven Ames (with Miami). Since the program's inception in 2008, 40 participating players have reached the big leagues.
Last year's camp was held at the Camelback Ranch-Glendale Spring Training site because Dodger Stadium was under renovation.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.