Joc Pederson, in Team Israel uniform (2012)

By Scott Barancik, editor

2012 wasn’t a bad year for Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson.

A third-year player drafted out of Palo Alto High School, the 6-foot-1 outfielder hit .313 with 18 HRs, 70 RBIs, a .396 on-base percentage, and 26 stolen bases for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A+). The Dodgers named him their Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year. Baseball America called him the best defensive outfielder in the club’s farm system. It also said he had the franchise’s best strike-zone discipline.

But if you thought the buzz on Pederson couldn’t get more positive, think again.

Halfway into the 2013 season, the 21-year-old is hitting more home runs and doubles than last year, stealing more bases, and getting caught far less often. His ranking on Baseball America’s list of top minor-league prospects has rocketed from 85th overall at the beginning of 2013 to 35th. At yesterday’s All-Star Futures Game — which pit the top 25 U.S. prospects against the top 25 foreign-born prospects — Pederson singled, walked, and scored a run in his only two plate appearances, and he nearly tossed out a runner trying to score on a sacrifice fly.

Here’s what Sports Illustrated had to say about him yesterday:

Pederson is an outstanding natural athlete and a grinder with a high baseball IQ. While none of his tools are well above average, all five have the potential to be average or better; he’s got a compact stroke with legitimate power, and an advanced approach at the plate that translates into on-base ability. Scouts are split as to whether he can stay in center due to the limitations of his speed and arm, but he may be able to fulfill the offensive profile needed in left field.

Despite his prowess, Los Angeles is in no hurry to promote Pederson to Triple-A, and we may not see him wearing Dodger blue anytime soon, if ever.

Added S.I. yesterday: “His future in the Dodgers’ organization is cloudy due to their expensive four-player logjam; Carl CrawfordAndre EthierMatt Kemp and Yasiel Puig are all under contract through at least 2017. [Pederson] represents a significant trade chip if they need to acquire an impact player at the deadline, though.”

Joc Pederson’s career stats

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