Baseball is unlike any other sport in that after a player gets drafted, even if it’s No. 1 overall pick, chances are they do not go straight to the Majors. There instead is the process of a player working his way up the Minor-League ranks. That takes some less than a year to play their way to the Majors, while others spend several seasons in the Minors.
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson was selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2010 draft. He made his Major-League debut four years later, and now he is having an outstanding rookie campaign, and is among the early favorites to win National League Rookie of the Year as he leads the Dodgers and all rookies with 18 home runs.
While Pederson has made the game of baseball look easy this year, hitting towering home runs and making one outstanding catch after another, his path was one filled with challenges, via Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News:
They say the fast track, but try being on all those 14-hour bus rides in the minor leagues,” Pederson said, laughing. “The minor leagues are a grind. It may seem like that was a quick process, but trust me, those bus rides are long.”
Pederson made his debut in September 2014 as a 22 year old. Former Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who was the GM when Pederson was drafted, credits a rather quick arrival in The Show to Pederson hailing from a baseball family:
He grew up in a family that respected baseball, that had an unbelievable understanding of the game,” Colletti said. “Whenever you can find somebody that has that kind of understanding, where baseball is that big a part of their life, where it’s not just a once-in-a-while thing it’s a constant thing, it has an affect. When your dad’s a professional baseball player, you’re saturated in it every day. You see it, you live it, you have a feel for it. Couple with that with the skill set, the athleticism and the ability to play in the middle of the diamond. That catches your attention.”
Although it may seem like those bus rides are long, and a prospect’s time spent in the Minors is even longer, there’s been a recent trend of young players being called up at a young age. Whether its Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, who made their debuts at 19 years old, or recent call-up’s like Carlos Correa (20), Byron Buxton (21), Joey Gallo (21) and Kris Bryant (23), who are all starting for their respective teams.
Dodgers top prospects Corey Seager (21) and Julio Urias (18) may be the next to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a Major-League ball player as each conceivably may be called up when active rosters expand in September.