Joc Pederson got his first taste of big league action on Labor Day, and it didn't take him long to see how cruel life can be. With two on and two out in the ninth, and with the Dodgers down 6-4 to the Nationals, he took a called strike three on a full count courtesy of a perfect breaking ball from Rafael Soriano.
Alas, his first "Big League" moment will have to wait.
Perhaps he won't have to wait long, as he gets the start in center field on Tuesday night, with the horribly slumping Yasiel Puig taking a seat. It wasn't a hard decision for Don Mattingly to make, as the combination of wanting to see what the organization's best minor league player in baseball can do, along with needing to let Puig clear his head made it easy to pull the trigger.
In case you're not familiar with Pederson, check out his numbers at Triple-A Albuquerque this season: 121 games, .303 AVG, .435 OBP, 106 R, 17 2B, 4 3B, 33 HR, 78 RBI, 30 SB. Considering he was the Pacific Coast League's Rookie of the Year and MVP, I'd say he more than tore things up down on the farm.
Now of course comes the obvious question: If Pederson plays like a star, will he be starting for the Dodgers in October?
That's certainly getting way ahead of ourselves, as there aren't many people who have made a Puig-like impact in such a short time. But if you're looking for talent and looking for a guy who can lift a lifeless offense, this is the guy.
Take away the ridiculously crowded outfield, and it's not unreasonable to think that Pederson would've already been in LA long ago. Maybe not to start the season, but he would've gotten the call at some point earlier than now. That's how good of a talent he is.
What could hold him back? Well, duh... the crowded outfield. Was there ever any doubt? Trying to get him consistent playing time when Donnie has to mix in Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Scott Van Slyke, Andre Ethier, and Puig is really difficult. Of course, after watching how putrid their production at the plate has been for the most part, Donnie can always just go with the hot hand and use that as his reason.
It'll be easy to root for Pederson to succeed, because he's undoubtedly one of the of the stars of the future, and a guy the Dodgers will build around once the mega-millionaires are off the books. Ned Colletti refused to include him in any deals, and if he had, then guys like David Price or Cole Hamels would be wearing Dodger blue right now.
For Dodger fans who are looking for reasons to get excited down the stretch as the lead in the NL West continues to shrink, Pederson could be exactly the kind of guy to get behind. And who knows? Maybe that means he'll be a feature player in the postseason.
Let's just see if he's on the field enough to show what he's got.