With only six games remaining for the Mesa Solar Sox (five after Friday afternoon’s game), two top Dodgers prospects have suddenly come to life. Unfortunately, it is a matter of too little too late, as the Sox are on the brink of elimination from making it into the Arizona Fall League’s championship game. In fact, their elimination number is down to two, thus making their chances of a championship berth slim and none, and slim, as they say, has already left town.
The good news, however, is that top Dodgers outfield prospect and their 2012 minor league Player of the Year Joc Pederson finally hit his first AFL home run on Thursday afternoon, a three-run shot that helped lead the Solar Sox to an eventual 4-3 win over the Phoenix Desert Dogs. The win was the second straight for the Sox but unfortunately yet again, they possess a dismal 8-16-2 record, worst in the AFL. (Remember that 8-game losing streak?).
Although Pederson is having an awful time at the AFL, the fact that he missed nearly two weeks due to an injury that he suffered while making a spectacular diving catch is undoubtedly a contributing factor for his meager .103 batting average. The 20-year-old Palo Alto, CA native describes his 2012 AFL experience as “a long Fall League.” And though Pederson will never admit it, what needs to be taken into consideration is that he has had absolutely no break whatsoever, having played the entire 140-game 2012 minor league season at Rancho Cucamonga and Chattanooga, played in the Southern League playoffs, played in the World Baseball Classic qualifying games for Team Israel, and then went straight to the AFL. Simply put, the kid is flat out exhausted.
In spite of Pederson’s dismal AFL season, he has kept everything in proper perspective and maintains a very positive attitude about it all, even after being demoted from Low-A Great Lakes to Rookie League Ogden in 2011.
“Being sent down was the best thing that happened to me,” says Pederson. “Johnny (Washington) showed me how to keep my body out of the way of my swing and now it’s repeatable and consistent.” Pederson has very high praise for Washington, the Ogden Raptors hitting coach. “He’s taught me a ton about hitting, and we just clicked,” said Pederson.
Also coming to life for the Mesa Solar Sox (albeit a very small sample size) is top Dodgers pitching prospect Onelki Garcia who, after missing most of the AFL due to an oblique strain, pitched two scoreless innings for the Sox on Tuesday. The highly touted 23-year-old Cuban lefty allowed no runs and only one hit and one walk in his two innings of work while striking out one.