LOS ANGELES -- A little rain couldn't dampen the spirits of the children from the Algin Sutton Community Center when they received a visit from 25 of the top prospects in the Dodgers organization on Thursday. The event was moved from the Dodgers DreamField to the gymnasium because of the weather, but the children still had a chance to learn the basics of baseball from the Dodgers prospects. Nearly 100 children broke off into stations focusing on different aspects of baseball, such as hitting, fielding, baserunning, pitching and training.
The event was part of the Dodgers' Winter Development Program, where the top prospects have a chance to work out and practice at Dodger Stadium while also getting acquainted with the Los Angeles area. The two-week program also teaches the prospects about the importance of being involved in the community. "We're instilling in these guys the work in the community that the Dodgers do as an organization," said David Brennan, the Dodgers' community affairs manager. "It's important to show these young guys the importance of going out into the community of Los Angeles, working with kids and promoting the game of baseball." The ability to interact with children and give back to the community was one of the most important lessons the prospects learned, according to Dodgers reliever Cory Wade. "It's great because it shows that there's more than just the on-the-field things," Wade said. "What you do off the field is just as important or even more important so this whole experience for the last two weeks is great." Wade was joined by fellow Dodgers such as Clayton Kershaw, Blake DeWitt, Ramon Troncoso, James McDonald and Chin-Lung Hu. They were also joined by some of the club's top Minor League players such as James Adkins, Jesus Castillo, Brent Leach, Josh Lindblom, Jacobo Meque, Travis Schlicting, Tony Abreu, Josh Bell, Ivan DeJesus Jr., A.J. Ellis, Austin Gallagher, Jamie Hoffmann, Andrew Lambo, Lucas May, Russell Mitchell, Xavier Paul, Trayvon Robinson and Matt Wallach. The players were impressed by some of the talent in the room, as the children had a chance to swing the bat, run the bases and play catch. "A lot of these kids have talent, but they just need teaching," McDonald said. "They probably look up to us, but it's important they realize we're just regular people, just like them." McDonald and Wade helped run one of the more popular stations where the children had the chance to throw like they were pitching off a mound to a catcher. "I liked getting into position to throw the ball," said 13-year-old Vanessa Pelayo. "It's really cool. They are real baseball players." But some of the throws weren't exactly on target, which elicited laughs from many of the children. "I liked throwing the ball, but they didn't catch it, and it hit the wall," said 13-year-old Stephanie Vazquez with a laugh. And while some children just had fun throwing the baseball, others relished the fact that they had a chance to meet players who have reached the Major League level.
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.