In the final installment of reviewing the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Minor League affiliates, we turn our attention to Triple-A Albuquerque. The Lab is one of the best hitting environments in baseball, so it’s safe to assume pitchers will be happy and hitters will be disappointed with the move to Oklahoma City.
As for the 2014 season, the pitching struggled all around but one historic performance on offense gave fans something they’ll never forget.
Player of the Year – Joc Pederson
Pederson established himself as a top prospect with a strong season in Double-A as a 21 year old. Going into the Pacific Coast League, evaluators believed his performance would increase. However, no one could have predicted that he’d make history.
Pederson began the season on fire. After an 0-for-3 performance in the opener, he hit three home runs over his next four games and didn’t look back. By the All-Star break, Pederson already had 17 home runs and added 20 stolen bases.
In July, the outfielder hit six more homers and then went on a tear in August. On the 18th, he hit his 30th home run of the season, while sitting on 28 stolen bases. Four days later, he stole his 29th base and the next day, became the first player in 80 years to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the Pacific Coast League.
The tools are there for Pederson to contribute at the Major League level; all he needs is consistent playing time. He was used sporadically in his callup and never managed to get into a groove. He has nothing left to prove in the Minors and must play everyday in 2015, be it in Triple-A or the show.
Pitcher of the Year – Yimi Garcia
It wasn’t a great year for pitching in the PCL, as the league posted a five-run per game average and the Isotopes’ cumulative ERA was 5.51. However, Garcia was one pitcher who consistently gave the team a chance to stay in the game.
Garcia was a relative unknown in the Dodgers’ system for years, despite posting solid numbers nearly every year of his professional career. He opened eyes in 2011 by pitching well in another unfriendly environment with Ogden. He’s moved up the ladder every year and spent most of 2014 in Triple-A, where he posted a 3.10 ERA and struck out 69 batters in 61 innings.
The right-hander doesn’t have the highest ceiling and likely fits into a Major League bullpen as a middle reliever, but he’s consistently produced and has good enough stuff to miss bats. The Dodgers’ bullpen situation is murky over the next few seasons but the team would be foolish to let him go for nothing.
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