The 2011 MLB Draft begins on Monday, and the importance of the event cannot be understated. Relatively speaking, investing in the draft is a drop in the bucket compared to overall team expenditures, and filling an organization with young, cheap talent is the lifeblood of a successful franchise. The Dodgers might be struggling on the field this season at 28-32, but the bulk of their draft history has produced the Dodgers' best players this season, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.
Per Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (WAR), three of the Dodgers top four players (before Sunday's game) were drafted by the team:
- Matt Kemp (2003, 6th round): 2.6 WAR
- Clayton Kershaw (2006, 1st round): 2.3 WAR
- Chad Billingsley (2003, 1st round): 1.6 WAR
- Andre Ethier (drafted by Oakland, acquired via trade while in minors): 1.6 WAR
The Dodgers have suffered a great amount of injuries this season, and have sent 13 different players on 18 total trips to the disabled list this season. As a result, they have had to rely on their minor league depth more than ever, and have had several drafted players make contributions this season. The Dodgers have had 13 former draftees play for the team this season:
- 2002 (2): James Loney, Jonathan Broxton
- 2003 (5): Chad Billingsley, Xavier Paul, Matt Kemp, Russ Mitchell, A.J. Ellis
2004 (2): Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra
- 2005 (1): Ivan DeJesus
- 2006 (1): Clayton Kershaw
2008 (2): Josh Lindblom, Jerry Sands
The MLB Draft is a three-day event, beginning Monday at 4 p.m. PDT with the first round and supplemental round on MLB Network. For more news and information on the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.