Saturday, December 8, 2007

Player Profile: Clayton Kershaw

I'll kick off my Player Profile series with a look at one of the most highly touted prospects in all of baseball at any level, Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers selected him with the #7 pick in the 2006 draft, just behind names like Luke Hochevar (the ass who got drafted TWICE by the Dodgers but never signed), Evan Longoria of the Rays, and Andrew Miller of the Marlins (traded in the Cabrera-Willis deal from the Tigers). He'll turn 20 just before the start of next season. He attended Highland Park High School in Dallas, Texas where he was drafted straight out of high school.

What makes him so intriguing is that not only does he have a blazing fastball, knee-buckling curveball, and a good changeup, but he's left-handed. For the upcoming 2008 season, has named in the #4 prospect, just above Joba Chamberlain and Clay Buchholz. That's some pretty good company.

He started the year off in Class A ball with the Great Lake Loons in the Midwest League where he went 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA and a .203 BAA. The most impressive stat is his strikeouts, where he had 134 in 97.1 IP. He moved up to the Jacksonville Suns of the Southwestern League in Double-A ball where he was 1-2 in 5 starts with a 3.65 ERA. His BAA was still even better at .193. He still struck out 29 in 24.2 IP, allowing him to have the second highest K/9 IP in the Minors. I'd say that's a pretty impressive debut performance.

Anytime teams talk trade with the Dodgers, he is one of the names that always pops up. His combination of overpowering stuff, great accuracy, and being a lefty makes him wanted by everyone. Will the Dodgers label him as untouchable, or are they willing to go for a veteran with a proven track record? That's the never-ending question.

As much as I'd like Erik Bedard or Dan Haren, I don't see any good reason to trade him away. At only 1 year out of high school, he already played in the Futures Game. Since his stuff is so dominating, I think it's safe to bet that he should have continued success in the Minors, barring any major injury like always. The Dodgers have great young talent, but he might top that list. They've got to hold onto him.

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