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    Dodgers draft Kendall George, Jake Gelof on Day 1 of MLB draft
    • July 10, 2023

    The Dodgers made a statement with their first pick of the 2023 amateur draft: they’ve bought into the new rules designed to make speed a more integral part of the game.

    High school outfielder Kendall George was not projected to be a first-round draft selection leading into this year’s event. Yet the Dodgers tabbed the 18-year-old with their first selection, 36th overall, on Sunday.

    The Dodgers also selected University of Virginia third baseman Jake Gelof with the 60th pick in the draft.

    George, from Atascocita High School in the suburbs of Houston, hit .445 with 32 stolen bases, a .581 on-base percentage, nine doubles, seven triples and 45 runs scored in 39 games during his senior season.

    George also starred on the USA Baseball Under-18 National team that won the 18 and under World Cup last September. In that event, he hit .364 and reached base in 10 of 18 plate appearances while stealing five bases.

    “George was the perfect fit,” Dodgers amateur scouting director Billy Gasparino said. “He can hit. We’re going to add power. He just checked so many boxes for us.”

    Speed was a big box. Gasparino said “the way the game’s evolving, his ability to collect hits and steal bases” were attributes favored by MLB’s new restrictions on pickoff attempts, bigger bases, and infield shift limits.

    “We feel it at the major league level daily,” Gasparino said.

    George also attended Major League Baseball’s Breakthrough Series and Hank Aaron Invitational, where he traded tips with Rajai Davis, the veteran outfielder who taught him how to overcome a shared weakness ― a lack of arm strength.

    Gasparino said he is “very confident” that he will be able to sign George. The slot value for the number-36 pick is $2.36 million. The Dodgers and George are “still working through the (financial) details,” Gasparino said.

    Gelof, 21, set Virginia’s school record for home runs in a season (23) as a senior. He also set the school’s single-season RBI record (90) that he set in 2022 as a junior.

    The Dodgers’ next pick will be No. 95 on Monday, as Rounds 3-10 begin at 11 a.m. The final rounds (11-20) continue Tuesday starting at 11 a.m.

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    ​ Orange County Register