Dodgers use their first-round draft picks on a pair of power hitters

Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese looks for a sign from his third base coach during a game against Cincinnati on March 23, 2018.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers used their two first-round picks Monday in Major League Baseball’s draft to take college power-hitting prospects, selecting Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese with the 25th overall pick and North Carolina infielder/outfielder Michael Busch at No. 31.

Los Angeles chose Jimmy Lewis, a high school right-handed pitcher from Texas, in the third round with the 78th selection to conclude the first day of the three-day event.

“We liked that demographic and it’s worked out in our favor in this draft,” Dodgers director of scouting Billy Gasparino said. “We’re extremely happy to get both those college bats.”

Hoese, 21, batted .391 with a .486 on-base percentage and .779 slugging percentage in 58 games as a junior this season. He ranked fourth in the country with 23 home runs after hitting none as a freshman and five as a sophomore. He compiled more walks (39) than strikeouts (34). He was named the American Athletic Conference player of the year and Baseball America ranked the 6-foot-4 third baseman as the 29th-best prospect in the draft.


“His defense is plus,” Gasparino said. “We like the two-way type of players. I think he can play other positions. He’s a good athlete. He can run. So not only do we get power with Hoese, I think we get plus defense, too.”

Busch, regarded as one of the best pure hitters in college baseball, will join the Dodgers as a second baseman despite not playing the position in three seasons at North Carolina. Busch, who played first base and left field in college, played games at second base in the Cape Cod League last summer after playing shortstop in high school in Minnesota.

He emerged as on the radar last year, batting .317 with 13 home runs and a .986 OPS as a sophomore. He hit .294 with a 1.017 OPS and 16 home runs this season, which hasn’t ended with North Carolina advancing to the super regionals over weekend.

“Wherever I can play and be in the lineup to help the team offensively, I think, is the biggest contribution I’m going to make,” Busch said. “But wherever on the field they put me is where I’ll work the hardest at, that’s for sure.”


Busch was taken with the compensation pick the Dodgers received after not signing their first-round selection — right-handed pitcher J.T. Ginn — last year. The team used the compensation selection for losing Yasmani Grandal in free agency on Lewis, a hard-throwing 6-foot-6 right-hander committed to Louisiana State.

Ryu named pitcher of the month

Hyun-Jin Ryu was named the National League pitcher of the month after allowing three runs in 45⅔ innings across six starts last month — good for a 0.59 earned-run average. He recorded 36 strikeouts and issued three walks.

Ryu threw a shutout May 7 against Atlanta and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his next outing against Washington. The performances comprised a chunk of his streak of 32 consecutive scoreless innings.

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“No surprise,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And this guy, it’s all sort of blending together, all those starts that he’s made this year. He’s been so consistent and to get the national recognition as National League pitcher of the month, well deserved.”

Bellinger given rare day off

Cody Bellinger didn’t start for the first time since May 5 and Roberts insisted it was simply a breather for the right fielder.


“You could argue it’s more mental than physical,” Roberts said. “But when you’re playing every day, you’re dynamic on both sides of the baseball, on the bases, your mind needs just as much of a blow as far as preparing every day and trying to play at a high level.”

By the unsustainable standards he set for the season’s first six weeks, Bellinger is slumping while carrying a 10-game hitting streak. Bellinger is batting .300 in those 10 games, which dropped his average from .394 to .376.

Twitter: @jorgecastillo

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