Joc Pederson is a forgotten man.
While many believe that Pederson may be ready for a Major League debut, Pederson is stuck behind four starting-caliber outfielders, three of whom have already been All-Stars, and another who is likely to play in his first All-Star game very soon.
Playing in the Southern League, Pederson slashed .278/.381/.497 to go with solid power numbers and a 15.9% walk rate. The numbers are impressive, yet when the Dodgers needed another outfielder during the 2013 season, they called on Yasiel Puig, and not Pederson.
It is hard to believe that Pederson, 21, is being somewhat overlooked during Spring Training. Recently named the number one Los Angeles Dodgers’ prospect by Baseball America, there are those that still consider him underrated. Baseball America’s own Ben Badler had this to say about him on Twitter after the rankings were released:
Though Pederson is held in very high regard by the Dodgers organization, he faces an uphill battle when it comes to making the big league club out of Spring Training. The Dodgers have too many outfielders as it stands, and Pederson still has some flaws in his game, something manager Don Mattingly alluded to when speaking about Pederson:
"It’s a matter of Joc developing and understanding his keys for certain pitchers and his approach to those guys.”
Mattingly was referring to Pederson’s inability to hit left-handed pitching at the Double-A level, where he managed to only hit .206 against southpaws. Pederson is entering his age-22 season, so there is plenty of time for him to work on facing “those guys.”
If Pederson were ready for the big leagues, the Dodgers would then be able to deal one of their current starting-caliber outfielders. Pederson could be used as the fourth outfielder, a role that Mattingly said he would feel comfortable with for such a young player:
"There's nothing wrong with guys coming up and playing part time. You don't want to have guys come up and sit."
The Dodgers will likely take a wait-and-see approach with their surplus, with Pederson’s development figuring prominently in their actions. If Pederson has demonstrated enough improvement at Triple-A Albuquerque by the MLB trade deadline, the Dodgers may be able to trade one of their surplus outfielders to bring back a player to fill an area of need for the stretch run.
Mattingly, for his part, had some very high praise for Pederson’s swing, comparing it to some very successful big leaguers:
"He’s got really nice hands. He’s fluid. He’s what you want really as far as how the swing is supposed to look. It’s easy, more of a Cano-ish (swing) … CarGo and those guys. His swing looks a lot more like those guys because it’s nice and easy. There’s no tension in his swing.”
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