While the Los Angeles Dodgers are working to cut away out their surplus of outfielders, with the Matt Kemp trade expected to be finalized by Thursday, there’s one outfielder the team holds high hopes for. After making his Major League debut in September, Joc Pederson appears to be in store for a more significant role in 2015.
Pederson made Pacific Coast League history in 2014 with Triple-A Albuquerque as he became the first PCL player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in 80 years. In trading Kemp the San Diego Padres, Pederson figures to be given every opportunity to take the reins in center field with Yasiel Puig moving back to right field.
During an interview with Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian on MLB Network’s Hot Stove, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly compared Pederson to Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez:
Well, a little difference with him and Robbie (Cano), he’s going to strikeout more. He’s more like a Carlos Gonzalez for me. He’s got that swing that stays in the strike zone, he’s going to have to keep it under control. He swings hard and swings hard all the time, he’s got power to all fields. To me, this guy is a baseball player and that’s what I think I like about Joc as much as anything.”
Albeit in a small sample size (38 plate appearances), Pederson struck out 11 times and had just four hits. In 141 games with the Isotopes, he had 149 strike outs in 553 plate appearances; up from the 114 strike outs he had in 519 plate appearances during the 2013 season with Double-A Chattanooga.
In four of the last five seasons, Gonzalez had at least 105 strikeouts — ending the streak last year (70 strikeouts) in a season cut short due to a knee injury. Although Gonzalez was prone to striking out, he also hit at least 20 home runs and drove in a minimum of 70 runs during the same five-year stretch.
With Kemp and Hanley Ramirez no longer in the lineup, the Dodgers will rely on more spots in the order to provide power and production. Pederson won’t necessarily be immediately looked at to become a major threat with the bat, but success he can have with the bat will go a long way toward cementing his status as an every day player sooner rather than later.
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