When examining the Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfield, you find a cornerstone in Yasiel Puig, hope in Matt Kemp, frustration with Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, and a valuable reserve in Scott Van Slyke.
Soon to be added to the conversation is Joc Pederson, who is currently with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate. The highly-touted center fielder has turned heads and led to many suggesting he be given a spot on the current roster, given Crawford’s and Ethier’s struggles. With the Albuquerque Isotopes, Pederson is hitting .390 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs.
The left-handed center fielder has been particularly lethal against right-handed pitching, hitting .455 with a 1.394 OPS, six home runs and 12 RBIs. As is often the case for a left-handed hitter, Pederson isn’t nearly as effective against lefties — .282 average, .762 OPS, one home run, three RBIs.
According to Christopher Jackson of Examiner.com, Pederson believes there’s more to it than simply being unable to hit left-handed pitching as well:
You face four lefties in a row, feeling crappy, they make good pitches and then they say you can’t hit lefties. Obviously that’s a rash opinion, or too quick, but essentially if you face four righties, feeling bad and they make good pitches, tip your cap. But they don’t (criticize you). It’s a very long season, so I’m not worried about it one bit.”
At the young age of 22, Pederson is well aware of the need to improve, but also is content with where he’s at:
If he makes good pitches, you kind of have to tip your cap. I’m happy with how things are going. I see a lot of improvement, but I also see a lot of weaknesses I’ve got to keep improving on. So it’s very encouraging.”
While Pederson may not become a regular at the big league level this season, 2015 remains a real possibility. There’s been speculation the Dodgers will ultimately trade one of their outfielders, with Crawford and Ethier being the most likely candidates. ESPN’s Jim Bowden recently presented the case of trading both of the aging outfielders and handing the center field reins to Pederson.
Should Pederson continue his current pace, the Dodgers would be hard-pressed keeping him in the minors for much longer. While Mattingly may be rotating his current outfielders now, a core of Kemp, Pederson and Puig may be the best case scenario in the near future.
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