CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Mired in an early-summer slump, Joc Pederson stayed the course.
The Chattanooga outfielder knew there was no reason to panic or press, for he learned earlier than most players that the journey to the big leagues is never a smooth one.
"I've definitely had my ups and downs, but as they say -- that's part of the game," Pederson said Monday. "I'm fortunate that my dad played and I was raised in a baseball family where I knew coming into it what was going to happen.
"You obviously still need to experience it for yourself, but it helps prepare you to handle it."
Joc's father, Stu, enjoyed a 12-year pro career, including a brief eight-game stint with the Dodgers.
He groomed his son to follow his baseball footsteps and served as Joc's high school coach in California.
"I think more than anything, my instincts for the game just developed sooner than most players," Pederson said of his father's influence.
Stu's coaching and guidance helped mold Joc into the Dodgers' eleventh round pick in 2011, plucked from high school in Palo Alto, Calif.
But since Joc signed his pro deal, his father's role has changed drastically.
Stu has trusted
"He just watches and cheers rather than in high school when he'd get on me after the game and say what are you doing," the younger Pederson said. "These days he'll wait for me to call and wait for me to ask questions, instead of calling me up and telling me stuff.
"I think now he just likes seeing me have more fun, I guess."
Joc had little of that in his first season in the minors, hitting .160 in Low-A Great Lakes and eventually being demoted to the rookie league.
Despite the disappointment, the then-19-year-old remained patient and refocused his approach, working with a new hitting coach to turn his game around. He quickly rebounded with a .353 average in rookie ball and one year later received the Branch Rickey Award as the top minor league position player in the Dodgers' organization.
"You want to be consistent at (every phase of the game), but I've got a lot of work to do on that," Pederson said. "Obviously I love to hit, so I focus a lot on that, but I'll just keep fine working to fine tune everything."
This year Pederson leads the Lookouts and ranks among the Southern League's leaders in hits, home runs, RBI, total bases, stolen bases and on-base percentage, among other categories.
He's had a few rough patches, but has routinely flashed skills both at the plate and in the field that back up his ranking as the Dodgers' No. 3 overall prospect.
"He's one of the best defensive outfielders I've seen," said Lookouts' manager Jody Reed. "He runs the bases and has great instincts on the bases. Obviously he swings the bat well, too.
"Really, every phase of his game is pretty good."
The impressive start earned the 21-year-old an invite to not only the Southern League Al-Star Game, but also the MLB Futures Game that is part of the big-league all-star festivities next week in Kansas City.
"I've watched that game in the past and you see some of the players who have come out of it. It's an honor to represent the Dodgers and see how I compare with some of these other players," Pederson said of Sunday's contest. "Plus, I'm just excited to see what the all-star weekend has to offer. Hopefully one day I'll get to be in the next couple days of that event and compete in the home run derby and the all-star game."
Reed says it's not a matter of 'if' with Pederson, but 'when' he eventually gets that chance.
"He's a really good player and we're just watching him progress," Reed said. "I think he'll tell us when he's ready for the big leagues."
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