Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dodgers Working to Find Spot for Chad Billingsley

Expect Chad Billingsley, 21, the Dodgers top-rated pitching prospect, to be promoted from AAA Las Vegas to Los Angeles by mid-June or sooner, no later than the end of next month. Billingsly, 21, has a 2.04 ERA and has struck out 40 in 38 innings for the Las Vegas 51s, including a no-hit bid Billingsley took into the eighth inning April 28. Dodgers GM Nick Colletti has resolved to create a roster spot for Billingsley by dealing No. 4 starter Odalis Perez if possible. Colletti has not ruled out demoting Perez to the bullpen if necessary, as Colletti has had difficulty finding a suitor for Perez because of the two years remaining on Perez's $24 million three-year contract. Perez's ERA stands at just under 7.00, but he has had three solid outings. Perez will be showcased when he returns Friday from bereavement leave in Santo Domingo, where he has been tending to his ailing mother. The powerful but portly Billingsley, who tips the scales at 240 on his 6-foot frame, is described as a mature 21, fiercely competitive but difficult to rattle. His fastball regularly hits the mid-90s and is complemented by off-speed pitches that are unusually effective for a youngster. Scouts predict Billingsley's fastball velocity will increase as he matures. Billingsley would move into the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but projects as the Dodgers opening day ace within two years.