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The Dodgers' commitment to player development is again on display as the sixth-annual Winter Development Program opens this weekend.
Twelve of the Dodgers top prospects are at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona for the week-long event. Workouts focus on fundamentals, strength training and conditioning.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly will work with the players as will many minor league coaches and instructors.
The program also relies on former Dodger players to prepare the prospects on off-field topics such as media relations, diet, and Major League travel. The minor leaguers will meet Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and Dodger legends, Maury Wills, Ron Cey, and Eric Karros.
A season ago, fifteen players were invited to the Winter Development Program with eight reaching the big leagues in 2012. Since the program’s inception in 2008, 36 participants have reached the Majors including Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, A.J. Ellis, and Scott Elbert.
A pair of players with brief Major League experience will also attend. Catcher Tim Federowicz, acquired in a 2011 trade, has appeared in ten big league games and could be penciled in as the Dodgers’ backup catcher this season.
Lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez dazzled during a September call up with Los Angeles a year ago. The 21-year old surrendered only one run in 11 appearances. He figures to battle for a spot with the big club in Spring.
Others attending include a pair of right-handed pitchers recently elevated to the 40-man roster, Steven Ames and Matt Magill. Two left handers, Cuban Onelki Garcia and Rob Rasmussen will be on hand as will outfielder Jeremy Moore.
One attendee who already has Major League insight is catcher Matt Wallach, son of Dodger coach Tim Wallach. The 26-year old is a veteran of six minor league seasons, the last two at Double-A Chattanooga.
Despite a flurry of acquisitions at the Major League level, Dodger President Stan Kasten believes the key to long-term success is a focus on player development.
The Dodger minor league system finished 2012 with the third-best winning percentage among big-league affiliates. Four of the seven farm teams reached the past season.
Only the Rangers’ minor league teams have posted a better combined winning percentage than the Dodgers over the last two seasons.
Pitchers and catcher report to Spring Training February 12, with full-squad workouts scheduled four days later.
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