When Matt Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres in December, it left a clear path for the Joc Pederson era to officially begin.
Pederson, 23 in April, is one of the most exciting Dodger prospects in recent memory, and for very good reason. Baseball America named him the 34th-best prospect in baseball, pre-2014, while Baseball Prospectus deemed him as the 50th-best prospect during that same time span.
Just this past week, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Pederson as the 28th-best prospect, with MLB.com giving him recognition at No. 13 overall.
Last season, Pederson became the first player in 80 years to post a 30/30 season in the Pacific Coast League. As a result, he was named the PCL MVP, Rookie of the Year and was named to the All-PCL team, capping off one of the most historic seasons in minor league history.
To no surprise, Pederson was called up to the Dodgers in September, given the opportunity to get a feel for what Major-League pitching is like. In a small sample size, he slashed .143/.351/.143 with zero extra base hits in 38 plate appearances. He struck out 28.9 percent of the time, but recorded a very impressive 23.7 walk percentage.
Yes, those are generally underwhelming numbers, but it’s impossible to judge a top prospect based on 38 career plate appearances as a September call-up. Despite not living up to the unrealistic expectations placed on him, Pederson still gained valuable experience and got a taste of playing in actual Major League Baseball games.
For those actually worried that Pederson is on the verge of becoming a “bust” based on his limited statistics from last season (hopefully nobody out there thinks this), the latest version of the Bill James Handbook projects him to slash .269/.355/.462 with 26 homeruns and 29 steals in the 2015 season.
CONTINUE READING: Joc Pederson’s Expectations In 2015