Dodger Third Round Pick Born to Play Baseball

There must have been a time in Sergio Pedroza's life when he didn't play baseball That was before he learned to crawl. The game came into his life shortly after that and it's been the center of his existence since.

"When did I start? "he muses. "Oh, at two, maybe three. My dad would throw to me in the backyard." He's been swinging a bat ever since and doing it quite well, too. Other sports? Naah, even in high school he didn't mess around with those. In California, where he grew up, you can play the game year-round so that's what he did.

He earned a scholarship to Cal State-Fullerton where the game is played on the highest collegiate level. Only trouble was he was a catcher and they were loaded at that position. So, he learned to play the outfield.

What the Dodgers admired most about his game was his power potential so they went for him in the third round. Scouting Director Logan White said at the time, "People were picking up the good-hitting college outfielders quickly so we felt we had to make the move."

That was fine with Pedroza, even though he'd been a Giant fan growing up. He just wanted to play so when negotiations began to drag a bit he got antsy to be out there and joined the fold. An admirer of Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds and Larry Walker ("I like lefthanded batter who can turn on the ball.") he went to Ogden and made like all of them combined, hitting -- get this -- .500 (23 for 46 with four home runs). "I was seeing the ball good. I had a lot of energy and my bat felt light," he noted.

L.A. decided to get him out of the league before he battered it down so promoted him to Columbus. There he found, "The pitchers are about the same except they tend to move their fast ball in and out more." While his long ball production stayed up, his average suffered. Before the season was over,he was busy solving those puzzles.

"I was having trouble hitting at night," he explains. "In Ogden it seemed to stay light until about the ninth inning . That wasn't the case in Columbus and I was having trouble seeing the ball. So I got contacts and they seem to help a lot. Toward the end I was hitting better.

"Then, that humidity in Georgia. I wasn't used to that. It really drained me."

He wound up with a .207 batting mark in the South Atlantic League but added 12 more home runs Now he's in the Instructional League, working on some things.

"I have to stay under control. I have to be careful because when I get a couple of hits, I might start looping my swing. " His approach is basic, "I see the ball and try to make good contact and not pull everything."

He's more than just a home run hitter for he has a strong arm and runs well. "I can steal a base although they don't seem to want me to be doing that much."

After instructional he'll return home where, "After a couple of weeks, I'll want to get back on a field and play again." You can be assured if the Dodgers hold winter workouts in the Stadium starting in January, he'll be one of the first to show up.

"I'll play this game until they tell me I can't. I'll have to break both legs before I give it up. "

Did I hear the Dodgers say they are looking for players with character? They obviously have one getting ready in this guy. Nice to have that around -- especially from somebody who can deliver at the plate.