Gambling on Prospects: Joc Pederson

This series will look at prospects and show whether they are worth an investment on your fantasy team. Every owner knows that the secret to a strong minors system is knowing who to throw away and knowing who to keep. Each player featured in this series will be given one of the following recommendations:

  1. Hold ’em : If you own this prospect, hang tight. While times may seem rough, the talent is worth holding onto.
  2. Fold ’em : If you own this prospect, now is the time to sell while they may still have some name value.
  3. Walk Away: This prospect is not worth paying attention to in your league.
  4. Run: Get to the waiver wire immediately and put a claim in for this prospect.

Matt Kemp was benched for the fifth consecutive game last night, despite having a better OPS than Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier. He has been scuffling defensively in center field and was recently called out by Don Mattingly.

“No, it doesn’t look the same,” Mattingly said. “Just the burst, the kind of outrun-the-ball burst. Talking with Matt, I don’t hear anything [physically] that he can’t play. We’re just not seeing the burst.”

Andre Ethier has taken over in center field while Kemp, with last night’s injury to Carl Crawford finally looks like he’ll be back in the lineup in left field where he has been working out. Ethier is no center fielder either, at least when looking at Heyward and Gomez and other naturally gifted center fielders, but he is serviceable there. With Crawford heading to the DL, the situation is less crowded and obviously less murky than it was yesterday.

In the mean time, Joc Pederson is absolutely destroying AAA as a centerfielder for the Albuquerque Isotopes. With just three outfielders now vying for three spots (sorry Scott Van Slyke), yet still a need for a natural center fielder, the Dodgers are in a precarious position. Not only are there no at bats available for their top prospect, but the question remains if he can play a strong enough center field.

Here is a look at what Pederson looks like on both sides of the ball. Both videos courtesy of the fine people at Minor League Baseball:

 

The Past:

Joc Pederson was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodger in the 2010 draft out of Palo Alto High School. He had committed to USC and was looking for a million dollar deal to forgo college, causing him to last until the 11th round. He signed at the last hour for $600,00. Here is what Baseball America had to say about him pre-draft:

Though he was only 5-foot-4 as a freshman, Pederson has grown a lot over the past few years and now sports a muscular, compact frame that draws comparisons to Jim Edmonds.
 He doubled as a wide receiver for Palo Alto’s football team, but Pederson’s future is on the baseball diamond, where he profiles as a five-tool player. He runs a 6.7-second 60-yard dash, gets fantastic jumps in the outfield and has an above average arm.

Pederson’s combination of speed, power and on base skills have been present since his professional start in 2011.

Year LVL AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2011 RK-A 316 58 11 65 26 43 63 .323 .407 .503
2012 A+ 434 96 18 70 26 51 81 .313 .396 .516

Despite such excellent numbers, Pederson was left off Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus Top 100 prospect lists heading into 2013. That would change after, at the age of 21 Pederson hit 22 home runs and stole 31 bases in AA. Again the OBP is strong, though the K rate had increased to 22%

LVL G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2013 AA 123 439 81 22 58 31 70 114 .278 .381 .497

The Present:

Fast forward to 2014 and Pederson was ranked as the #34 overall prospect by Baseball America and #50 by Baseball Prospectus. I was one of the lowest on Pederson, ranking him as the 81st best prospect heading into 2014. My concerns were outlined here, but essentially I was worried about his ability to hit LHP. When this issue was combined with the outfield situation in Los Angeles, I was more than a little concerned that Pederson could end up in a platoon situation. (Heck, that’s where Kemp has been).

Looking at his numbers vs. LHP in 2014, it’s pretty obvious that whatever issue he had in 2013, is not one now.

Year AVG OBP SLG K% BB% ISO
2013 .200 .299 .269 27.4 11.3 .069
2014 .300 .388 .557 30.0 12.5 .257

Overall, Pederson’s line is outstanding this season with the exception of a 27% K rate.

LVL G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
 AAA 49 187 43 15 32 13 36 61 .348 .453 .647

The Future: I did not rank Pederson high enough heading into 2014; the difficulties he had vs LHP seems to have been isolated to 2013 and he’s improved his stock even more with his performance this year. Andre Ethier is a capable fill-in at center field, but I can’t help wonder if he is simply being showcased for a trade. Very little of this Kemp benching makes sense, though that situation is likely now over with Crawford’s injury. What does make sense is that Pederson would immediately be worth rostering in redraft leagues if he was promoted, as he can produce numbers across the board. With high expectations in LA, and San Francisco being major league baseball’s best team, the Dodgers face the same question they did last year at this time. Is it the right time to bring up their prized outfield prospect? Even with 4 outfielders (3 of which earn between $15-21M per season) I think it is. Recommendation: Run. 

 

Other Prospect Notes:

D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners. Peterson is having a spectacular May with 6 home runs, 24 RBI, 3 SB and a .537 SLG. Just in High A ball, Peterson should move quickly and may find himself on more Top Prospect lists midseason. An excellent bat, he may find himself moving over to 1B. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #59. Recommendation: Run

Dominic Smith, 1B, New York Mets. Just 18 in single A, Smith is hitting .271/.335/.312 with 0 home runs. While I’d never dismiss an 18-year-old highly touted prospect, the lack of any power is evident in his game. While I ranked Peterson ahead of Smith preseason, I think the gap has widened even further. It may be time to cash in on his name value. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #61. Recommendation: Fold ‘Em.

Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago WhiteSox. Johnson was promoted to AAA a couple of weeks back after hitting .329/.414/.446 in AA as a 23-year-old. Micah has bounced back from a disappointing 2013 and could be playing himself into the White Sox starting second base job in 2015. Prospect Ranking in 2014 N/A. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em

Cameron Bedrosian, RP, Anaheim Angels. 22-year-old AA closer has struck out 42 batters in just 22 innings this year. His fastball is hitting the mid-high nineties. The Angels have themselves in a playoff position early and Bedrosian could be a key piece for them down the stretch. Prospect Ranking in 2014 N/A. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em

Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals. Taylor has 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases in the first 46 games as a 23-year-old in AA. He has excellent speed, having stolen 51 bases in 2013. His trouble with making contact in 2013 (22.5% K rate) is the one thing that hasn’t gotten better, now sitting at a whopping 35% K rate. On pace for a 40/40 season, Taylor is worth targeting now in hopes he can improve that contact rate. Prospect Ranking in 2014 N/A. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em

Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins. Berrios turned 20 yesterday, 1 day after posting another impressive start of 6 IP 7H 1R 1BB 7K in high A ball. With the talent ahead of him in the Twins organization, it’s easy to overlook Berrios, but with 3 plus pitches already, he shouldn’t be forgotten. Prospect Ranking in 2014 N/A. Recommendation: Run

Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets. Just 18 years old, Rosario was promoted to full season ball yesterday. Rosario had been in extended spring training where he had an OPS of 1.150. He was signed as an international player for $1.75 M last year by the Mets. If you have patience, he could be very special. Prospect Ranking in 2014 #74. Recommendation: Run

 

If you’re gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right.

Paul Hartman

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Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.