Joc Pederson can flat out hit. The 21-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers outfield prospect put up a .278/.381/.497 slash line last year in Double-A Chattanooga. Swinging from the left side, he went deep 22 times. For good measure, he swiped 31 bases. There is no reason to believe the system’s top prospect won’t continue to get better as he matures as a hitter.
Pederson on his mindset and approach: “You want to keep it simple, because hitting is such a hard thing to do. It can get complicated pretty quickly. The clichéd way to explain [keeping it simple] is ‘see the ball hit the ball’. Each hitter has his own cues and while it varies for each individual, I assume most good hitters keep it simpler than the hitters who struggle.
“If you’re thinking too much, you’re already at a disadvantage. The ball is coming so fast that you need to have a clear mind. When you keep it simple you can be confident with your approach and take that confidence into the box.
“I work off the fastball. I think most everyone does. I don’t look only for fastballs, but I do work off them. Other than that, what I’m looking for kind of depends on the pitcher and how he’s attacking you. A pitcher is going to go with his strengths, and you have to stick to yours, but you still have to be willing to vary up. It’s a cat-and-mouse game and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That’s a fun part of baseball.”
On developing a good swing: “You want to get on plane with the ball and stay through the zone for a long time. You want to get the maximum bat speed you can while still being in control. You want to do that off a good base.
“You want the going through the middle of the zone, right out until your arms can’t extend anymore. I guess that’s how you’d explain it. Our hitting coordinator talks about it being like an airplane landing on a runway. You want to land it smoothly. That’s kind of how you ride out your bat plane. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but it’s one way to visualize it.
“I’m still making adjustments. I think you can [learn to create more backspin], but I also think it‘s going to come naturally with a good swing. There are a lot of vocabulary terms you can use for hitting, but essentially you need to be on plane with the ball if you want to hit it hard.
“I mostly try to stay out of the mechanics part, because that’s when it starts to get complicated. I look at hitting more as feel than mechanics.”
On Baseball America saying his most glaring offensive hole is against lefthanders: “I can probably agree with that. I need to hit lefties better. However you want to look at it — whatever the problem is and how to fix it — at the end of the day, I just need to hit lefties better. Do you know what I mean? This game is about results.
“Why haven’t I [been better]? I guess if I knew, I’d fix it. Honestly, I’ve been doing some trial and error, and hopefully it comes around sooner rather than later.”
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