Following the 2014 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers had the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. Joc Pederson had just finished his fifth year in the minors and most expected him to be called up soon.
He had just finished a season in Triple-A in which he hit .303 wit 33 home runs and 30 steals. While his power has never been a problem, he has always had an issue with striking out. In Triple-A he struck out 149 times, and through 403 plate appearances in the majors this season, he has already struck out 117 times.
Manager Don Mattingly believes Pederson can make improvements to his swing without compromising his power, via Tyler Kepner of the New York Times:
I think his swing can get better without losing any power at all,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “I think he can put the ball in play another 50, 60 times a year, where he should cut his strikeouts down. It’s just a matter of continuing to grow with his swing and take little bites out of it, make it a little bit shorter, where it needs to be, and understanding how to do that.”
Pederson is currently hitting .228 but believes he can do much better. In fact, his teammates do too:
He’s a .300 hitter,” said Justin Turner, the Dodgers’ third baseman. “It’s a game of adjustments, and he’s working every day, trying to get back to it. He’s not satisfied being a .230 hitter with a bunch of homers. He wants to get hits and hit for power.”
The center fielder’s average started declining around the time when he hit a home run in five consecutive games. At that point he was hitting .267. Although his offense has declined, he still holds a 131 wRC+.
If Pederson can make some adjustments, the Dodgers will have a bonafide center fielder for years to come.