Monday, August 16, 2010

Dodgers sign Zach Lee, three others

This is a bit of good news on top of another Dodger late-inning meltdown -- this time to the Braves. The Dodgers led 3-1 going into the 9th. Hong-Chih Kuo retired the side in the 8th on seven pitches. He then proceeded to load the bases (recording one out) before Octavio Dotel came in with his gas can and allowed three runners to score.

Anyway, onto the good news.

The Dodgers shocked a lot of people by signing first-round pick RHP Zach Lee on Monday prior to the 9 p.m. Pacific deadline.

Lee, who was committed to play football and baseball at LSU, signed for an undisclosed bonus. Update 1: Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times says the bonus is $5.25 million spread out over five years, which is nearly $3 million more than Clayton Kershaw got in 2006 ($2.3 million). It was the largest bonus for a Dodger draftee (Hiroki Kuroda got $7.3 million in 2008 as part of a Major League contract). Update 2: Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports says Lee is giving up football.

Immediate speculation was the Dodgers' had punted the pick by choosing perhaps the most unsignable player in the draft.

Lee profiles as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. He has a four-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s with a little movement. He has touched 95 mph and if he can sustain that as a starter, he could valut into No. 1- or 2-starter territory because of his surprising polish. He also has a low 80s slider. Lee's best pitch might be his changeup, which MLB.com calls "Major League average right now." It has a chance to be a plus pitch for him. Lee, like many of the Dodger high school draftees (Billingsley, Kershaw, Withrow, Martin) is projectable with a strong frame (6'4, 195 lbs.).

This is a nice coup for the Dodgers. I, like many, doubted the Dodgers would sign Lee when he was chosen. I'm glad to say I was wrong. There hasn't been a whole lot to get excited about recently for the Dodgers. However, this would be a spot of good news and go a long way to start rebuilding the farm system after 2-3 years of minimal spending. I would rank Lee in the Dodgers' top 20 for sure and potentially the top 15.

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The Dodgers also signed 11th-round pick OF Joc Pederson to a deal Monday, which inludes a $600,000 signing bonus, or four times the recommended slot value for an 11th rounder.

Pederson was commited to USC but passed up the opportunity to be a Trojan to be a Dodger. The Dodgers have a glut of outfield prospects, but the toolsy Pederson will need some time to develop. Baseball America says his tools are potentially average or better. We could be looking at a top 10 Dodger prospect in a couple of years.

The Dodgers also signed two more outfielders -- 21st-rounder Noel Cuveas and 26th-round pick Scott Schebler to a contract with a $300,000 bonus. The Dodgers spent more than $1 million in bonuses for guys drafted in the 11th round and later. It only made sense for them to ink Lee to a deal. The Dodger farm system got much stronger today.

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Former Dodger draftee Kyle Blair signed with the Cleveland Indians for $580,000 today. The Dodgers grabbed him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft and BA considered him one of the best pitch high school pitching prospects. He fell to the fifth round because of signability issues. The Indians took a chance on him in the fourth round this year.

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