2B Jaime Pedroza - Dodger Prospect #38

If you were a shortstop and the Dodgers #17 prospect in 2008 and seemed on the fast track to reach Los Angeles, it would be natural to be discouraged if you were not only demoted from Inland Empire to Great Lakes but also switched to second base. However, that wasn't the case for newly-minted second baseman Jaime Pedroza, our Prospect #38.

Dodger scouts picked up quickly on the fact that Jaime Pedroza had all the necessary bloodlines to become a major leaguer.

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 stared at Northview High in Covina and received a scholarship offer from Cal State Fullerton.

Some say Pedroza was swinging a bat even before he took his first steps and his performance at Northview High School in Riverside, California are still being told and retold.

They talk 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.

After high school he 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) while leading the Highlanders to their first-ever Big West Conference Championship and a No. 7 national ranking.

He seemed a natural but never was he prepared for the wild swings his career would take in the Dodgers minor league system.

After being drafted in the ninth round by the Dodgers he was sent to Ogden and finished with second highest batting average in the Pioneer League (.360) with 18 doubles, eight home runs and 40 runs batted in over 56 games. He was also named a Pioneer League all-star.

He got a brief taste of the California League in the final weeks of the season, hitting .250 in five games for Inland Empire.

He was named Southern California First Year Minor Leaguer after his remarkable rookie season and earned the Player of the Year award by the Professional Baseball Scouts of Southern Cal.

But when he opened the 2008 season at Ogden, the hits just quit coming.

He was hitting .163 in early May and he called his brother, Sergio, an outfielder in the Tampa Bay organization, for advice. "You know you're good, so go out there and prove it," He was told.

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

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. Excluding his dreadful .163 average in April, he hit .316 (126-for-399).

  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."

On the franchise charts, 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.

It was predicted that he would open the 2009 season at Chattanooga.

Not only he wasn't promoted to Double-A, he was dropped back a notch and switched from shortstop to second base to make room for überkind Dee Gordon.

Apparently undaunted, he dug in.

With the Loons, he jumped out to a .328 average in April, helped by a five-hit game on April 30, the first in Great Lakes history. Then settled back to .264 in May and going into his 52nd game he was locked in a 1-for-13 slump. He wasn't seeing the ball well and couldn't find a rhythm at the plate.

He remembered his brother's advice and went back to the basics.

"My one plan was to go up and hit the ball hard," he said. "That's the only thing that was going through my mind. That was my whole approach going into every at-bat."

One could say that worked out pretty well.

The 22-year-old put Great Lakes on the board early with a two-run homer in the first inning. He tripled leading off the third and later scored on a wild pitch. Pedroza beat out a bunt in the fifth.

Realizing he had a chance to hit for the cycle, he popped out to second base. Then he focused on staying on top of the ball and rammed a double to right field in the seventh.

Pedroza became the first Loon to hit for the cycle.

"I felt numb," he said. "The whole dugout was going crazy. It's such a great feeling, especially when you get a win out of it."

He finished the season with a .260 average and with 135 hits (7th in the Dodgers system), 100 runs scored (first), 33 doubles (8th), six triples (tied for 6th), 15 homers (tied for eighth), 57 runs batted in and 25 stolen bases (fifth). He also finished sixth with 80.14 runs created, the most of any middle infielder.

He knows that at 5-8 and 167 pounds, he has to keep proving himself each season and that scouts are cautious about his future.

But 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.

"One thing I've learned is I have no control over where I'm going to be," he said. "The best thing I can do is go out and play hard and put up some good numbers. Everything else will take care of itself."

At this point, one shouldn't bet against him.

His record:
Jaime Pedroza    bb  tr  5-10  175
Born: Sept. 12, 1986
Obtained- selected in ninth round of 2007 draft.

year	team     ave   obp   ops   gm   ab    r    h  2b 3b hr   bi sb
2007	Ogden	.360  .413  .982   56  211   33   76  18  1  8  50   4
	IEmp	.250  .250  .783    5   12    2    3   0  0  0   1   1
2008    IEmp	.290  .342  .783  128  470   78  139  31  7  9  57  25
2008	GLks	.260  .361  .793  136  520  100  135  33  6 15  78  36
--------------------------------------------------------------
 Totals		.289  .363  .820  325 1222  212  353  82 14 32 176  66
We would like to thank Jared Massy of ThinkBlue, Evan Chavez of NewMexicoFan.com, Nick Eustrom, Brandon Lennox and Yadja and Bob Bacher for their much-appreciated help in compiling this list. Each had a different slant on the top 40 and when I set up my list, their thoughts were extremely valuable. If there is any criticism of the LADugout Top 40, be advised that these gentlemen are not at fault, all the blame lies with me.

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