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Joc Pederson: A Hitting Prospect Exists in the Dodgers Farm System

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The Dodgers don't have too many hitting prospects in the upper farm system right now, especially with shortstop Dee Gordon and outfielder Jerry Sands graduating to the big leagues in 2011. What the Dodgers do have is plenty of pitching prospects including 2010 first round pick Zach Lee, 2011 first round pick Chris Reed, Allen Webster, and Nathan Eovaldi, among others. But one rookie ball outfielder could change all that. His name is Joc Pederson and is a hitter to watch in 2012.

The Dodgers drafted outfielder Joc Pederson in the 11th round of the 2010 Rule 4 draft. He managed just 12 at bats in the Arizona rookie league after getting drafted, but did some damage in the Pioneer league last season. He started the 2011 season in the Low A Midwest League, but struggled is his 50 at bats, and then was moved down to the Rookie Pioneer League where he dominated, hitting .353-.429-.568 with 11 home runs, 64 RBI, 54 runs scored, 24 stolen bases and a solid 54-36 K/BB rate.

His batting average did benefit from an extremely high BABIP of .403, but showed very good power as his .214 ISO and .568 slugging percentage indicates. His power did not come at the expense of strikeouts though as he struck out in just 17.4% of his at bats, and walked in over 11% of his at bats as well.

More on Pederson after the jump:

I checked out what some of the prospects experts had to say about Pederson and here is what John had to say about him in his Dodgers Top 20 Prospect rankings back in early December:

9) Joc Pederson, OF, Grade B-: Very attractive combination of tools and skills. Grade could be much higher next year if he can hit outside the Pioneer League.

Pederson lead the Pioneer League in RBI with 64, was 10th in home runs with 11, third in runs scored, second in stolen bases, and fourth in batting average, so he showed he is ready for a promotion to the Midwest League in 2012. John gave him a B- grade, and I have to think it was due to the demotion, which is fine.

In the comments thread of his Dodgers Top 20 Prospects list, a reader asked what Pederson's upside was, and John responded saying he could be a 20 home run - 20 stolen base type hitter, but more likely he will be a 15/15 hitter with a good OBP.

In his list of sleeper prospects for 2012, ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Pederson:

Outfielder Joc Pederson has gotten significantly stronger since high school and projects to hit for average and power between his excellent bat speed and sound swing. He's fast enough for center but the bat should profile in a corner if he has to move.

With Matt Kemp signed for the next 8 years, Pederson could finally force Kemp to move to right field once he is major league ready. Keith also responded to a readers' question about Pederson in his Top 100 Prospects list chat on Thursday by saying the following:

Pederson's further away, chance to be an above-average regular or better.

Better than an above-average regular? That is music to this Dodgers fans' ears. Yes, he is several years away from making an impact at the big league level, but it is nice to finally hear something good about a Dodgers hitting prospect.

Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus chimed in on Pederson in his recent Top 11 Dodgers Prospects list:

His approach and pitch recognition is highly advanced for his age, and he has a sweet left-handed swing with the potential for 20-plus home runs as he learns how to drive balls. He's has solid-average speed and is an excellent baserunner.

Those of you in deeper fantasy/dynasty leagues should take a look at Pederson once all of the upper level and Top 100 prospects have been drafted, as he could shoot up the rankings in 2012. John said his grade could be "much higher" in 2012 if he can perform in the Midwest League, so does that mean he could be an A-/B+ prospect then?

I certainly hope so. Let me know your thoughts on Pederson and if you have heard anything different than what John, Keith and Kevin have said about him this offseason.

I am liking what John, Keith and Kevin have said/written about Pederson, but what do Minor League Ball readers think about him?