Joc Pederson makes surprising debut at A+ with the Quakes

Much to my surprise, Joc Pederson made his season debut with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Monday night. It was surprising because by all accounts, the 2010 11th-round pick was slated to begin the season in Midland, Mich., with the Great Lakes Loons.

A groin injury in spring training caused him to miss the first two weeks of the minor league season. I asked him about it via Twitter on April 2nd, but he wasn’t sure where he’d end up.

@feelinkindablue still in AZ rehabbing my groin…so gotta get it better before I can break camp and they haven’t told me where I am going

So when I saw Pederson was skipping Low-A in favor of High-A, it was surprising.

Pederson played briefly in the Midwest League last season, going 8-for-50 with seven walks and nine strikeouts. He went to Ogden when the Rookie-ball season opened and promptly mashed there (.353/.429/.568) to take home team MVP honors.

Pederson, who doesn’t have one standout tool but is average across the board, went 0-for-4 in his California League debut. He hit third in the lineup and played center field. Leon Landry and Casio Grider have split time in center field this season, so if Pederson is with Rancho for an extended period of time, I could see Landry playing a lot of left field despite being a better defensive center fielder than Pederson.

Suddenly, the Quakes’ roster looks a little crowded. With Grider, Landry, and Pederson, the Dodgers also have outfield prospect Jonathan Garcia playing right field (and struggling) every day. Christopher O’Brien, a catcher by trade, is playing some first base while Austin Gallagher is splitting time between first base and designated hitter. Chris Jacobs, recently back from injury, is taking up DH duties as well.

In the end, there might not be enough at-bats to go around for these guys every day. Of the players mentioned, Grider is the least impressive prospect of the bunch. Grider was an infielder last year with the Loons, so I suppose there’s a chance the Quakes could move him back there, but Tyler Henson and Charlie Mirabal seem to be entrenched up the middle.

Manager Juan Bustabad (yes, it’s his real name) has a tough job ahead of him. It’ll be interesting to see how he juggles the playing time in Rancho.

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I’m actually attending Friday night’s game in Rancho with Jared Massey of LA Dugout. If I get a chance to talk to the skipper or any players, I’ll be sure to pass along the information. I know I’ll be snapping plenty of photos and probably taking some video. Zach Lee is tentatively scheduled to start.

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