51s’ best talent must ‘knock door down’

Last season, the 51s sent 15 players to the parent Los Angeles Dodgers, who had seven rookies on their playoff roster.

Las Vegas will have a hard time matching those numbers this year, especially with roster spots at a premium for the Dodgers, who are 20-14 and leading the National League West.

"We’ve got some of the better players in the (Pacific Coast League) on this club, but even the best players here are still learning and still developing," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who watched the 51s’ 4-1 victory over Oklahoma at Cashman Field on Wednesday night.

"Our job is not to have these players knocking on the door to get to the big leagues, but to knock the door down … to be so ready that they dominate at this level, because when they get to the big leagues it’s going to be a totally different situation."

Colletti is in his second year as GM of the Dodgers, which was named Baseball America’s Organization of the Year last season. He visits each Dodgers farm team during the year and strives to field a balanced blend of veterans and youngsters in Los Angeles.

"We’re not looking to hold kids back to the point where their best years are spent in the minor leagues. It does take time, though," he said. "(51s outfielder) James Loney hit .380 in this league last year, but he’s still learning and still developing, so when he comes to the big leagues — and he’ll be there, and he’ll be a Dodger when he’s there — he’ll be even more prepared than he was last year, when he had a real nice September for us.

"It’s the same thing for (51s outfielder) Matt Kemp. He’s got a world of talent. They’re both gaining on it, but we want to see them knock the door down."

Kemp started the season with the Dodgers, but he was optioned to Las Vegas during a major league rehabilitation assignment. The Dodgers did the same with pitchers Hong-Chih Kuo and Yhency Brazoban.

"That says something about our depth at the big league level," Colletti said. "They have to work their way back into it."

Colletti said he was impressed with several other Las Vegas players, including outfielder Delwyn Young, shortstop Tony Abreu and pitchers Joe Mays and D.J. Houlton, who earned the win against the RedHawks, giving up a run on five hits, with seven strikeouts, in six innings.

Colletti also praised the play of former 51s third baseman Andy LaRoche, who was called up to the Dodgers on Sunday and is hitting .400 after going 1-for-2 with an RBI and three walks in a 5-3 win over Florida on Wednesday.

NOTES — Infielder Luis Maza and pitchers B.J. LaMura and Matt Riley were sent to Las Vegas from Double-A Jacksonville, and pitchers Mark Alexander and Luis Gonzalez were sent from the 51s to Jacksonville.

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