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Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson might be top trade bait

BASEBALL

The double-A center fielder who represented the Dodgers in the All-Star Futures game awaits his major league debut, but the team's outfield is already crowded with players signed through at least 2017.

July 14, 2013|By Bill Shaikin

NEW YORK — As May turned to June, the Dodgers needed a center fielder.

Matt Kemp's hamstring had given out on him. The Dodgers liked Skip Schumaker in center field for a day or two, but no way for a month. They did not like any of their center fielders at triple A.

Joc Pederson, the Dodgers' highly regarded double-A center fielder, appeared to be next in line.

"Everyone texts you, wondering what's happening," Pederson said.

This is what happened: The Dodgers moved Andre Ethier to center field, for his first stint there in the major leagues. They replaced Ethier in right field by calling up another double-A outfielder, a kid named Yasiel Puig.

Pederson, 21, still awaits his major league debut, but he represented the Dodgers in the MLB All-Star Futures game here Sunday. He singled and walked in two plate appearances, and Angels first base prospect C.J. Cron singled twice, helping the United States team to a 4-2 victory over the World team.

Pederson also showed off power in batting practice and a strong arm in the game, and rest assured the flock of scouts took note. With Puig, Ethier, Carl Crawford and Kemp all signed through at least 2017, the Dodgers could trade one and still have no room for Pederson.

That makes Pederson logical trade bait. He is batting .296 with 14 home runs at double-A Chattanooga, and he leads the Southern League with a .516 slugging percentage. His splits offer some concern: the left-handed Pederson has a .202 batting average and .549 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against left-handers, a .338 batting average and 1.059 OPS against right-handers.

Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti declined to discuss the interest opposing teams have shown in Pederson or the likelihood of trading him, but he did speak highly of Pederson's progress.

"He has above average baseball acumen to go along with talent," Colletti said. "He's a hard worker who not only aspires to be a big league player but works at it daily."

Pederson said he has "no idea" whether the Dodgers would trade him.

"I'm just going to live in the moment," he said. "That's out of my control."

He said he was playing with the knowledge that all 30 teams would be watching him, not just the Dodgers.

"I'm just trying to make myself the best I can possibly be," Pederson said. "Wherever I end up, I end up."

Pederson said he was "absolutely not" disappointed that the Dodgers had not called him up instead of Puig.

"They were doing what was going to help the team the best," Pederson said. "He's doing great. The Dodgers are doing great. That's what matters.

"His talent is unbelievable. He brings a great energy to the team. He does everything so good. Every day, you were being wowed with something."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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