The Los Angeles Dodgers already have a crowded outfield, but prospect Joc Pederson continues to impress and could prove he’s ready for a shot against major league pitching at some point in 2014.
Pederson was the Dodgers’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, but struggled in the Arizona Fall League last season, going 5-for-52 (.161). This time around, the California native is following up another strong regular season with an impressive showing in winter ball.
Pederson is playing for Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League, and currently has a .941 OPS, 5 home runs and has drawn 34 walks in 31 games. Taken by Los Angeles in the 11th round of the 2010 draft, the left-hander has looked like a steal ever since.
Over 1,400 minor league plate appearances, Pederson has a sterling.301/.394/.503 batting line. With Double-A Chattanooga this season, he slugged 22 home runs and stole 31 bases. There is some power in his bat, but the on-base skills make him stand out as a potential top of the order guy.
There is some question as to whether or not he’ll be able to make it defensively as a center fielder, but his ability to produce at the plate should allow him to stick as a corner outfielder if it comes to that.
MLB.com has Pederson ranked as the Dodgers’ top prospect and the No. 43 prospect in all of baseball. He is routinely attributed as a gamer with plus baseball skills and good makeup.
There aren’t many young American players who opt to play in the Caribbean, so that alone is a great sign he’s committed to making himself the best player he can be. Plus, judging by his Twitter feed he’s making the most of his time in Venezuela, sampling the candy the country has to offer. Hey, you gotta have some fun, right?
With Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp, the Dodgers are looking to unload an outfielder this offseason. If Pederson continues to overachieve it may not be long before they’re looking to unload another veteran outfielder. It’s just as likely, however, that Pederson ends up as a prospect the Dodgers dangle to other teams as a trade token.
Wherever he ends up, Pederson clearly has a future as a major leaguer. The Dodgers have a reputation, justifiably, as a team that has built their current club by spending; whether it be in free agency, the international market or by adding payroll in trades. Pederson is a player the front office can hang their hat on as proof they can uncover a gem late in the draft as well.