Low-level Draftees impressing in AFL

Low-level Draftees impressing in AFL

LOS ANGELES -- It would have been a great call a year ago to predict that Blake DeWitt and Cory Wade would be key contributors on a Dodgers club that reached the National League Championship Series.

But anyone closely following the Dodgers' representatives in the 2007 Arizona Fall League at least would have known who they were.

DeWitt and Wade used their experience in the AFL as a springboard to success. They attended the organization's minicamp at Dodger Stadium in January, opened eyes in Spring Training and took advantage of playing time to carve out a role in the upcoming season.

The Dodgers have eight current participants in the Arizona Fall League and the early performance of one clearly stands out.

At 20, outfielder Andrew Lambo is a little young to be considered anything more than a very long longshot to make a Major League impact next year. But his early play in Arizona is a continuation of the ability he's already shown since the Dodgers drafted him out of Newbury Park High School in the fourth round in 2007.

Lambo, who bats and throws left-handed, is hitting .346 in seven games in Arizona. He's 6-foot-3, 198 pounds and coming off an All-Star season at Great Lakes, where he hit .288 with 15 homers and 79 RBIs.

Meanwhile, one of the most impressive performances of any Dodger at the Arizona Instructional League was that of right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, drafted in the 11th round this year out of Alvin (Tex.) High School.

Despite undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery his junior year, Eovaldi was a tough sign, having committed to Texas A&M and set a high asking price by bypassing college. The Dodgers were convinced he was healthy, they worked him out when they played in Houston in July and he received sales pitches from manager Joe Torre and pitchers Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton before signing for $250,000.

"Eovaldi throws as hard as Broxton did when we signed him," said assistant general manager Logan White. "If he starts, he'll throw in the mid-90s. If he relieves, he'll hit 100 mph easy."

After signing, Eovaldi pitched in six games with the Dodgers' Gulf Coast League entry, allowing one run and striking out nine in eight innings. He made one appearance at Rookie League Ogden, pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He will be 19 when Spring Training starts.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.