Let's take a look at 10 of the most important attributes that should help to indicate what a prospect’s future might hold. Players are ranked on a scale of 1-10 by their qualities for each aspect, accumulating in a final prospect grade. Grades are based on what prospects can bring to the table from the current position they are projected to play in the major leagues.
Without further ado, let’s find out if Joc Pederson makes the grade…
1) Baseball IQ – Joc is the son of former major leaguer Stu Pederson, who also played in the Dodgers organization. Check out what Baseball America had to say about the prospect’s high baseball IQ and "grinder’s mentality" here. Rating: 10 out of 10.
2) Batting-Eye – With all of the success the outfielder is having to start the 2014 season, Pederson has surprisingly struck out a total of 45 times, averaging about 1.2 K’s per game. After striking out a career high 114 times last year, this will be worth monitoring in the future. Rating: 9 out of 10.
3) Hit-Tool – After hitting for well over a .300 batting average each of his first two full minor league seasons, Pederson’s average dropped to .278 in 2013. No worries though, as the lefty has hit for a .359 clip to begin 2014. Rating: 9 out of 10.
4) Power – The toolsy outfielder followed up an 18 HR season in 2012 while playing in the CAL League, with a 22 HR performance during the 2013 season while in Double-A. After a promotion to Triple-A to begin the 2014 season, Pederson has already amassed a total of 11 long-balls in his first 38 games played. Rating: 9 out of 10.
5) Speed – Over the past 3 full minor league seasons, Pederson has put up stolen base totals of 26, 26, and 31. To kick off the 2014 campaign, the outfielder has swiped 11 bags in 38 games. That’s not easy to do when 11 or your 51 base hits are home runs! Rating: 9 out of 10.
6) Body – The outfielder measures in at 6’1" and 185 pounds. He has the frame and athleticism that will allow him to produce a nice mix of home run and stolen base totals for the foreseeable future. That athleticism will also allow the top prospect to play all three outfield positions in the future. Rating: 10 out of 10.
7) Durability – Drafted out of high-school, the Palo Ato native has logged 84, 110, and 123 games in each of the past 3 seasons. The biggest durability concern here has more to do with Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier and their ability to stay healthy as Joc’s personal roadblocks. Rating: 10 out of 10.
8) Ceiling – When you are examining a player that is capable of contributing in every fantasy category, the sky can be the limit. Fantasy owners should keep expectations reasonable at first, hoping for a future 20-20 player. But if Pederson can put it all together and become a future 25-25 player, he would become a very valuable fantasy commodity, similar to a young Grady Sizemore. Rating: 10 out of 10.
9) Floor – Scouts have been giving the Dodgers’ top outfield prospect mixed reviews for years now. Some love him, others question his potential. I tend to side with the first group, and his performance thus far in 2014 just shows why. At worst, I think we might be looking at a player in the mold of a Will Venable. But that is a worst case scenario. Rating: 7 out of 10.
10) Future – The question isn’t when Pederson will be ready, but when the Dodgers will make space for him. If the top prospect comes close to reaching the levels some scouts expect, we could be looking at a perennial top 25 fantasy outfielder. Rating: 9 out of 10.
Overall Grade: 92% - A
Future Outlook: It appears as though Joc Pederson is looking to replicate George Springer’s 2013 Triple-A stat line in search of the minors first 40-40 season in a very long time.* The Dodgers outfield just might give the prospect a chance at that record. With no place to play in already one of the most crowded outfields in the big leagues, there is no need to promote Pederson until an opening occurs. No one is trading for Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier’s bloated contracts, while Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig shouldn’t be expected to go anywhere anytime soon. To get a chance to watch Pederson don the big league uniform in 2014, I believe we will need to see a significant injury occur somewhere in this outfield, or a trade will need to take place. After Pederson makes his way to the big league club, he should provide fantasy managers with a nice mix of power and speed. I think we could be looking at a fantasy option similar to Corey Hart very early in his career (2006-08), posting totals of +20 HR with +20 SB with a solid batting average. You never know if a prospect will find immediate success upon arrival, or take a while to get their feet under them in the show. But once Joc settles in as an everyday big league outfield, he should be a good one for a very long time.
* No Minor Leaguer in at least fifty years has recorded a 40-40 season. According to the "Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract," there have been three such seasons in the minors, but official statistics for stolen bases are difficult to come by before the 1960’s.