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Dodgers stock up on college talent in first 10 rounds of the draft

Dodgers stock up on college talent in first 10 rounds of the draft
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announces the No. 1 selection by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round of the MLB draft on Monday. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

The Dodgers continued to favor experience during the second day of Major League Baseball’s draft Tuesday, selecting a college player with each of their eight picks. After 10 rounds, the crop of 11 picks included six pitchers, four infielders and an outfielder. The draft concludes Wednesday with 30 more rounds.

Los Angeles began Tuesday by selecting right-hander Ryan Pepiot out of Butler. Pepiot, the highest draft pick in school history, posted a 3.92 earned-run average as a junior this season. He established school records for both single-season and career strikeouts.

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The Dodgers went local in the fourth round, taking UC Irvine junior third baseman Brandon Lewis. The 6-foot-3 Lewis was an all-conference performer for two seasons at Pierce College before transferring to Irvine for the 2019 season. He batted .315 with 14 home runs and a 1.006 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 54 games. According to MLB.com, Lewis lost 70 pounds between high school and this season, dropping from 285.

“Lewis is someone we saw last summer that [scout] Paul Cogan put on our radar as a potential power bat,” Dodgers director of scouting Billy Gasparino said. “He’s a local kid, and we think he has all fields power. We had him in a workout here and he proved it. He can play a couple different positions and had a really good opening campaign in Irvine, so we were excited to get him there.”

Lewis was the second third baseman the Dodgers drafted, joining Tulane’s Kody Hoese, who was chosen in the first round with the No. 25 overall pick Monday. Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler said he was familiar with Hoese because Tulane coach Travis Jewett was the hitting coach at Vanderbilt when Buelher was at the school. Buehler compared Hoese’s swing to that of Ryan Braun.

Justin Turner returns to pine

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner returned to the lineup Monday after a four-game absence spawned by a hamstring injury. Turner emerged without aggravating the ailment. He went two for four and scored a run. And yet the Dodgers gave him another break Tuesday. He is expected to play Wednesday.

“There's going to be some residual soreness,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Guys are playing well [so] just felt it was just smart to get him down.”

Roberts said Turner will likely get another day off this weekend against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers then play games the next 17 days. Roberts said they’ll continue handling Turner with caution for “a couple of weeks.”

“Just to kind of get out of the woods with that and let him go,” Roberts said. “It's just a nice luxury that guys are playing well and we need Justin active and trying to take the long view with him and all of our players.”

So why not just put Turner on the injured list?

“He's just too valuable on the bench,” Roberts said. “If there's a spot, in a big spot, he's one of your best bats. … To have him in a big-leverage spot, we have no one that can do that. And that presence, that at-bat, if we need it, is huge.”

Short hops

Catcher Austin Barnes caught five innings and went 1 for 3 with a run-scoring single in his first rehab game for single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday. Barnes is on the injured list with a groin injury. He scheduled to play in another rehab game Wednesday before joining the Dodgers in San Francisco on Friday. ...Roberts said Matt Beaty, who hasn’t played since suffering a hip flexor injury Sunday, was available to pinch-hit Tuesday but will remain out of the lineup until Friday.

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