Dodger Prospect #17 - SS Jaime Pedroza

His father, Jesus, played professionally in Mexico. His brother, Sergio was selected in the third round by the Dodgers in 2005, while younger brother Richie stars at Northview High in Covina and has accepted a scholarship offer from Cal State Fullerton. So it is no surprise that shortstop Jaime Pedroza is our Prospect #17.

5-10 175 BS TR
Born- September 12, 1986, Riverside, CA
Obtained- Selected #7 in 2007 draft

It seemed as if Jaime Pedroza was swinging a bat even before he took his first steps but the baseball talent that has run so richly through the Pedroza family didn't really kick in until his sophomore year at Northview High School in Riverside, California.

As a freshman, with runners in scoring position a pitcher at rival Covina High intentionally walked his older brother Sergio to get to him in the lineup, Pedroza ripped an RBI double.

He did the same thing again two days later, prompting a Northview parent in the bleachers to quip, "You walked the wrong brother -- again"

"That was Jaime's defining moment," Northview coach Darren Murphy said. "That was where he separated himself from his brother and got to pound his own chest a little bit."

Tales of Pedroza's passion for baseball are still being retold at Northview. About how he would he take extra swings in the batting cages after games whether he went 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, and for lecturing teammates who showed up for practice even a minute late.

It didn't take long for that to reach the ears of UC Riverside coach Doug Smith, who snatched him up late in his senior year after a scholarship offer from the University of San Diego fell through.

Pedroza became a three-year starter at shortstop for UC Riverside, leading the Highlanders to a Big West title and an NCAA tournament berth his junior year before forgoing his senior year to enter the draft.

Jaime had hit .325 and led the team in doubles (17), homers (13) and RBIs (55), leading the Highlanders to their first-ever Big West Conference Championship and a No. 7 national ranking.

"He's just a baseball nut," Smith said. "He knows the game because he's played it so much. He's not the biggest kid and he's not the most talented kid, but he's got a real great baseball IQ."

After being selected by the Dodgers in the ninth round of the 2007 draft, Pedroza said was going to be comfortable playing in Ogden after being drafted in the ninth round by the Dodgers and assigned to the Raptors in the Pioneer League. "My brother was always telling me stuff about Ogden so when I got here I knew quite a bit about it," Jaime said.

His brother, Sergio, was a third-round pick of the Dodgers in 2005 and played 21 games for the Raptors that year. Ironically, in 2007 he played for the Vero Beach Devil Rays, hitting .287 with 21 doubles, 20 homers and 59 RBIs in the Florida State League.

As he thought, he was certainly comfortable at Ogden and was named Southern California First Year Minor League after a remarkable rookie season, earned the Player of the Year award by the Professional Baseball Scouts of So Cal.

He finished with second highest batting average in the Pioneer League as he hit .360 with 18 doubles, eight home runs and 40 runs batted in over 56 games. He got a brief taste of the California League in the final weeks of the season, hitting .250 (3-for-12) in five games for Inland Empire.

He had closed his term in Ogden by hitting .383 over the final 24 games, slugging seven of his eight homers and knocking in 27 runs.

He opened the 2008 season with Inland Empire and suddenly the hits just quit coming.

A season-opening slump that saw him hit .163 spilled into early May, so Pedroza dialed his brother, to ask for his advice. "You just have to stay positive," Sergio, an outfielder in the Tampa Bay organization, told him. "You know you're good, so go out there and prove it."

After that conversation, he stopped tweaking his swing and returned to the consistent, focused approach that has been his trademark in previous years.

Though Pedroza said his confidence was shaken by his sluggish start, the Dodgers' faith in the former ninth-round pick remained strong.

  Inland Empire manager John Valentin, a former major league infielder with the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, said it's not unusual for prospects to need a few months to get accustomed to a higher level of play.

  "It's a big jump," Valentin said. "He was being tested against guys who are soon-to-be Class AA players. In the lower levels you see a lot more pitchers who don't have the command that they have here, and when you have command, good pitching usually beats good hitting."

Everything came together in May and he posted a .349 average. He hit .326 in June, .282 in July and finished August with a .340 burst.

  On June 17th, Pedroza wrote his name in the California League record books with four doubles in a game against Bakersfield. 

He finished the season with a solid .290 average, 31 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs and 57 runs batted in. He threw in 25 stolen bases for good measure.

On the franchise list, he just missed finishing in the top ten in hitting but he made the elite list in runs (78), hits (139), doubles (31), triples (7) and stolen bases(25).

All remarkable numbers for a shortstop in his rookie season -- or any season for that matter. Excluding his dreadful .163 average in April, he hit .316 (126-for-399).

A switch hitter, he was pretty much dead even from each side of the plate, hitting .287 vs. left-handers and .291 against righties. He also was involved in 51 double plays, tops in the entire franchise.

He has a strong work ethic and won't change that. "I need to keep coming out and swinging the bat well and being aggressive and play my game," he said. "If you don't work hard all the time, the game will get away from you."

After his explosive year at Ogden, scouts were cautious about his future, saying he would need to follow the season up with another strong effort at a higher level.

He certainly did that and will open the 2009 season at Chattanooga.

Jaime Pedroza

year  team       ave   obp   ops  gm   ab    r    h  2b 3b hr  bi  sb
2007  Ogden	.360  .413  .981  56  211   33   76  18  1  8  50   4
      InEmp	.250  .400  .650   5   12    1    3   0  0  0   1   1
2008  InEmp	.290  .352  .783 126  479   78  139  31  7  9  57  25
 Totals		.311  .365  .841 189  702  112  218  49  8  17 98  30		  

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