Joc Pederson: The ‘Other’ Talented Outfielder for the Lookouts

Joc Pederson Photo Courtesy: Tim Evearitt

Joc Pederson has three home runs to lead the Southern League so far this season. Photo Courtesy: Tim Evearitt

By: Michael Wottreng

When the Chattanooga Lookouts travel this season, outfielder Yasiel Puig will garner a lot of attention from fans and media. After all, Puig signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in June of 2012. However, there is another elite outfield prospect that people should notice.

Joc Pederson, ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Dodgers organization by Baseball America, is the Southern League leader in home runs and has shown an all-around game that will stand out even next to a player as talented as Puig. Baseball America, the leading outlet for ranking prospects, lists Pederson as the best defensive outfielder and the player with the best strike zone discipline in the Dodgers minor league system.

Joc Pederson has been working at all three outfield positions. Pederson was named the best defensive outfielder in the Dodgers system by Baseball America.

Joc Pederson has been working at all three outfield positions. Pederson was named the best defensive outfielder in the Dodgers system by Baseball America.

The Palo Alto, Calif. native was a dual-sport star coming out of high school. Pederson committed to play baseball at the University of Southern California and had a spot to be a preferred walk-on for the Trojans football team. Initially, it was reported that it would take a $1 million signing bonus to get Pederson to walk away from his scholarship, but he signed with Los Angeles for $600,000 after being drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

“It was one of the harder decisions I’ve had to make,” Pederson said. “Looking back on it, I’m happy with my decision. I love coming to the park everyday and playing against other great players.”

The decision came down to the opportunity to play baseball consistently everyday or wait three years until he became draft eligible again. The 2012 Dodgers’ Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year used a resource few young players have. Pederson’s father, Stu, spent seven of his twelve minor league seasons in the Dodgers organization including a brief stop in Los Angeles during the 1985 season.

“There are a lot of benefits,” Pederson said. “He knows a bunch of the coaches that are still coaching throughout the minor leagues. He gave me a heads up of what it would be like. I’m thankful and blessed to have a father that can help me out.”

Joc Pederson stuff. Photo Courtesy: Michael Murphy

With a father that spent 12 seasons in the Minors, Pederson has the appreciation and the motivation of a seasoned veteran. Photo Courtesy: Michael Murphy

Pederson has adjusted nicely against Double-A pitching as six of his nine hits this season have gone for extra bases. The Southern League leader in doubles is learning everyday about the nuances of playing with an athlete of Puig’s skill.

“It’s definitely something you have to get used to, especially because of the language barrier,” Pederson said. “He still has a lot to learn language-wise, but his skills are off the charts. For instance, the other day when he threw the guy out at third, he threw a missile.”

The big-league Dodgers have three All-Star outfielders under long-term contracts in Matt Kemp (signed through 2019), Carl Crawford (2017), and Andre Ethier (2017). With a crowded Major League outfield and high expectations for Puig, Pederson’s vision focuses on his progress as an all-around player.

“I’m just trying to improve my game as much as possible everyday,” Pederson said. “You can’t control what happens. I have to come to the field every day and perfect my craft.”

When all eyes are focused on another outfield position, Pederson will continue to increase his skill level. While Puig is making headlines, the 21-year old from California will sit in the background preparing for his time in the spotlight.


Michael Wottreng is a Broadcast and Multimedia Assistant for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow Michael on Twitter here: @MWottreng

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Categories: 2013 Southern League Feature

Author:Michael Wottreng


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