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Outfield tough to break in for Dodgers' top prospect Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson can add and subtract same as you. Looks at the math exactly the same way. And it’s bad enough four won’t go evenly into three, but try five.

The most curious, and potentially troubling, aspect to the 2014 Dodgers is how they will smoothly find playing time for four All-Star-caliber outfielders -- Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford -- for three spots.

Then there’s Pederson, ranked the Dodgers’ No.1 prospect by Baseball America and their 2012 minor league player of the year. And also an outfielder.

Looks like the wrong position to play but Pederson takes the pragmatic approach.

“You really can’t do much about that,” Pederson said. “I guess it just makes you push that much harder. I’m not really competing against a normal outfield. You have four superstars, so it makes me a little hungrier and work a little harder in the off-season. I guess I’m fortunate to be in that situation and push myself to the most capacity I can.”

Pederson, 21, spent last season at double-A Chattanooga, where he batted .278 with 22 home runs and 58 runs batted in, with .381 on-base and .497 slugging percentages. Most observers do not grade him as a future superstar, but more of a solid everyday major league player. He could make his first appearance this season.

“I hope I’m pretty close, but I guess you never really know until you’re there,” Pederson said. “You hear so many different opinions. Until it really happens, I guess you never know.”

Pederson was drafted in 11th round in 2010 out of Palo Alto High. His father,
Stu Pederson, was drafted by the Dodgers in 1981 and played eight games with them four years later.

With the surplus of outfielders, Pederson has also heard he’s a trade candidate.

“I guess I’m pretty fortunate to be in that situation, but obviously I don’t want to get traded,” he said. “I feel like being a Dodger in L.A. would be something special. It’s close to home.

“The Dodgers would just be trying to win, trying to do what’s best for their team, and if they think they can get somebody for me that will help them win you can’t be mad. That’s just trying to look up for themselves.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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