Will Dodgers gamble for possible big reward in player draft?

Will Dodgers gamble for possible big reward in player draft?
Brady Aiken watches the MLB draft as he receives a congratulatory phone call just after he was selected by the Houston Astros as the first pick on June 5, 2014. (Hayne Palmour IV / Associated Press)

The 2015 Major League Baseball draft is Monday, and do you know what your Dodgers are going to do?

Of course not. They don't either, but they have a pretty good idea of the four or five players who might be available when their first-round pick comes around at No. 24.


"Picking 24 in this draft with the amount of volatility there is, we have a group of guys but we're just not sure what's going to happen," said Billy Gasparino, the Dodgers' new scouting director. "We're just really playing it straight up, where we line them up and see what happens."

Which with the Dodgers could be most anything. Gasparino previously was the scouting director for the Padres, and he will admit to one difference running the draft for the Dodgers.

"At times maybe it can make you take on a little more risk because you know there are other ways to acquire talent," he said. "Maybe it's made us a little more aggressive but we're not like changing course in a big way."

Which takes us back to that 24th pick. The wild card in this year’s draft is left-hander Brady Aiken, who was the No. 1 overall pick last year by the Astros out of San Diego Cathedral Catholic High School. But when he came to Houston to take his physical before signing, an MRI exam indicated trouble with his ulnar collateral ligament and he was never signed.

Aiken went to the IMG Academy in Florida, blew out his UCL in his first outing and had Tommy John surgery in March. Most teams are expected to pass on a risky 18-year-old who will have his development pushed back a year.

Of course, most teams aren't the Dodgers.

"The medical staff is going to have a big say in who we consider," Gasparino said. "I think at some point the talent outweighs the medical risk and we would look at those types of players. It's kind of a sliding scale there at times. It also depends upon who else is available."

The Dodgers also have the 35th overall pick -- as a compensation pick for losing Hanley Ramirez in free agency to the Red Sox -- and picks 67 and 74. Many consider this a weak draft, but Gasparino likes its overall quality.

"I think everyone judges it by like the first five or 10 picks, and I think the top of the class is a little weaker than usual," he said. "But from pick 10 to 70, we think it's a normal draft, if not stronger. For our four picks, we feel really good about it."

Gasparino said although he ultimately has to make the call, the first-round pick in particular is more a group decision. He estimated he's written 120 reports on players for this draft and seen at least 200 overall.

Logan White, the Dodgers' previous scouting director who left in the off-season to become a special advisor with the Padres, was known for gravitating to high school players, particularly pitchers. Gasparino said he doesn't expect any particular pattern to emerge with him.

"We're really trying to stay flexible this year," he said. "No strong preference, best player available -- I know that sounds cliche but it really is. We feel like we have that luxury to just really take the best talent."