The Los Angeles Dodgers have dipped repeatedly into their fertile farm system the past few seasons, which has new members of the Chattanooga Lookouts loaded with aspirations.

"If they aren't excited about their opportunity, they need a little bump on the head," Lookouts manager John Valentin said Tuesday. "They are so close to the big leagues. Consistent play and obviously having the right attitude of coming out and playing every day can make that trip to the big leagues awfully quick.

"With the experiences the past Double-A players have had as far as moving up to the big leagues and how quick it happens, they should be very optimistic about their future."

For the first time since 1987, an organization other than the Cincinnati Reds provided the coaches and players at Lookouts media day. The new Class AA affiliates of the Dodgers practiced after Tuesday's interviews, will work out again today at AT&T Field and will bus Thursday morning to Birmingham for their season opener that night.

Chattanooga begins its 70-game home schedule next Tuesday night against Montgomery.

Four of Baseball America's top eight prospects in the Dodgers organization are opening with the Lookouts: outfielder Andrew Lambo (No. 1), starting pitchers Josh Lindblom (No. 4) and Scott Elbert (No. 5) and third baseman Josh Bell (No. 8). Among those joining them are reliever Brent Leach (No. 21), outfielder Jamie Hoffman (No. 22), reliever Victor Garate (No. 24), starter James Adkins (No. 26) and catcher Lucas May (No. 28).

There are 19 Lookouts with past Southern League experience, including eight former all-stars.

"I feel like everybody is a prospect on our team," Lambo said. "I really don't like labeling everybody, because it's like you're a prospect because of what you did last year, but now it's time to see what you can do this year. The Southern League is probably the toughest Double-A league in all of minor league baseball, and you really do want to get something out of this."

Pitcher Chad Billingsley, first baseman James Loney, catcher Russell Martin and reliever Jonathan Broxton had prominent roles last season as Los Angeles advanced to the National League Championship Series. All four of those players came through Double-A Jacksonville in 2005.

Last season, pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Cory Wade, James McDonald and Elbert went straight from the Suns to the Dodgers.

"I don't want to compare one group to another, and I don't want to act like we're going to be a bunch of world-beaters," Dodgers farm director De Jon Watson said. "But I think this will be a very competitive group that has shown good chemistry in spring training."

Lookouts pitching coach Glenn Dishman had the same role in Jacksonville last year and said sending so many players to Los Angeles was "a bright moment in my career." He believes there are opportunities again this year because the Dodgers struggled this spring and have question marks with four or five guys in the bullpen.

Jesus Castillo has been pegged to start Thursday, followed in the rotation by Elbert, Travis Chick, Lindblom and Adkins. Chick pitched for the Lookouts in 2005-06, while Adkins pitched at the University of Tennessee.

Dishman said he loved coming to Chattanooga when he was with the Suns because of the mountains and river, and Valentin admitted the city has made a great first impression.

"The people are wonderful here, and they've been very friendly," Valentin said. "I'm looking forward to a great experience and having the fans come out and enjoy good baseball, because we're going to give it to them."

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