De Jon Watson, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ vice president, player development, was back in Albuquerque this weekend to watch the Isotopes. Prior to Saturday night’s game Watson sat down for an extensive interview about the current Isotopes and the other players coming up through the Dodgers’ farm system.
One area of concern in recent years for the Dodgers has been a lack of depth in position players in the minors. Albuquerque’s current roster only seems to support this.
Among the current 12 healthy position players, only three were originally drafted or signed as amateurs by the Dodgers organization. Of those three, catcher Griff Erickson and infielder Delvis Morales are seeing primarily as depth pieces.
Center fielder Joc Pederson is the lone homegrown prospect with the Isotopes. Like many hitters before him, Pederson has put up huge numbers at home (.386/.527/.693, 10 HR) compared to good, but not as great, numbers on the road (.276/.380/.491, 9 HR).
In most organizations, regardless of any perception of his stats being inflated by his home ballpark, Pederson would have been promoted to the Majors long ago. The Dodgers, though, have too many outfielders as it is in the big leagues.
All of this gives Los Angeles the luxury of letting Pederson continue to develop in the minors. Watson said this will be good for the 22 year old in the long run.
“You’re talking about a good young kid who’s a smart player,” Watson said. “He knows there are things in his game where he needs to continue to grow and develop. It’s rare that you see a guy go right from the minors to the big leagues and just take off running like (Yasiel) Puig did. It’s very rare that it happens.
“There’s still more pieces to his game that I think he can truly evolve in. You guys haven’t seen him incorporate the bunt game like we did last year in the Southern League. It was something that really kept him going last year when he went into a little slump.”
The Dodgers have had issues defensively in center field this year. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke are all natural corner outfielders, which has led many fans to want Pederson to be called up.
“His defensive play, it’s been good here but I’ve seen it better,” Watson said. “There are things we continue to work on there. Battling out at-bats with runners in scoring position (is another). Those are areas of his game where there’s still room for growth.”
Watson said he understands why Dodgers fans are excited for Pederson’s eventual arrival. When that will happen remains undecided.
“It’s exciting to have a player with his skillset,” Watson said. “He can do so many things for a club. You just want to keep challenging him and letting him go out there and continue to learn. 22 years old, there’s a lot of baseball in front of him and I think he’s going to be a really good player when it’s all said and done.
“We just like where his mindset is. He’s playing hard and (we’re) just trying to keep him focused and managing the smaller things that he can manage. He really can’t control what’s going on up top, but he can control is what he is (doing) here on a daily basis. He can impact the games here and try to win games on a consistent basis.”
Watson had plenty more to say about the top position player prospects and the top pitching prospects at Double-A Chattanooga, many of whom will be in line for promotions to Albuquerque next season. Look for that story Tuesday.