Joc Pederson hit 33 home runs in 2014 with Triple-A Albuquerque as part of a historic 30-30 season, which was the first time in 80 years a player in Pacific Coast League hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases.
The success in his lone season at the Triple-A level only further heightened expectations for Pederson, which were already at an astronomical level. Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers essentially having traded Matt Kemp to free a spot in the outfield for the rookie, all eyes are on Pederson.
The 22-year-old rookie had gotten off to a quiet start through the first five games of the season, but was in a zone in the Dodgers win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Pederson clubbed the first home run of his Major League career and said he was happy to get the big moment behind him, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
It was a relief,” Pederson said of his first Major League home run. “After the first hit, I’ve hit a lot of home runs in the Minor Leagues and you wonder when you’ll get the first one. It’s nice to get it out of the way and get back to helping the team win.”
On top of hitting his first home run in the big leagues, Pederson showed his opposite field power by driving the ball to the balcony level in left-center field. It was something he did with relative regularity during spring when he led the Dodgers with six home runs and 13 RBIs.
Although manager Don Mattingly refrained from publicly naming Pederson the club’s starting center fielder, no other Dodger has yet to start at the position dating back to the Dodgers beginning their three-game exhibition Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
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