There were many bright spots for the Dodgers Rookie League Ogden Raptors this season, most all of them on offense. 19 year old Joc Pederson who led the Pioneer league in RBI, and 2011 12th round draft pick 21 year old O’Koyea Dickson who led the Pioneer League in Slugging Percentage, were the Raptors top 2 offensive weapons.Dickson joined the team on the 4th of July, 2 weeks after being drafted, and all he did was hit, for average and power. Pederson actually began his season at Great Lakes (Low A) on May 29, but only spent a couple weeks with the Loons struggling mightily. He was sent back to Ogden June 21st only missing their first game of the season. Considering Joc just turned 19 in April and only played in 2 games for the AZL Dodgers in 2010, Ogden was probably the best landing spot for Joc, but more on him later.
First let’s focus on Dickson who made a name for himself during his junior season at Sonoma State, which led to him being drafted by the Dodgers.
He was named the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) newcomer of the year as he led his club in five offensive categories, runs scored, hits, home runs, total bases and slugging percentage. Dickson led the conference in runs scored with 61 and had 52 runs batted in, he also was awarded a gold glove for his .983 fielding percentage at first base. According to the Sonoma State web site:
"His 11 home runs were second-best in the CCAA, one of which came in the Div. II World Series opener against top-ranked Grand Valley State to send the game into extra innings — a game in which Sonoma State pulled off the 7-6 upset victory"
Dickson led Sonoma State to just it’s 2nd ever appearance in the NCAA Division II baseball championships, and he was a major factor in leading the Raptors to their 2nd consecutive Pioneer League championship appearance. In just 48 games, 20 less than Pederson, O’Koyea hit .333, and blasted 13 HR tying Scott Schebler for the team lead.
He added 38 RBI’s in his 48 games, while striking out 44 times to go along with 19 walks. He also led all of the Pioneer League in slugging percentage at .603 and got on-base over 40% of the time. Dickson hit .347 vs lefties and.329 against righties.
OK also had some unusual home/away splits during the season. He hit 8 of his 13 homers on the road, even though he played 8 fewer games away from Lindquist Field in Ogden. But even though he hit 8 HR in away games, he only had 12 of his 38 RBI on the road. He also hit just .297 on the road compared to a silly.360 average at home.
The only area in which he really struggled was hitting with runners in scoring position. Even though his average was a solid .341 with runners on-base, he hit just .265 with RISP, so that is one area where he has room for improvement.
Defensively he was as good as it get’s. Rawlings announced in May that they would again be awarding gold gloves to minor leaguers but it would be limited to the 10 domestic full season leagues. So even though O’Koyea doesn’t qualify for a Gold Glove his defense in 2011 would make him a lock for one. He committed just 5 errors in 402 chances giving him an impressive .988 fielding percentage. But more impressive was his Range Factor of 9.45, Range Factor is putouts + assists/games played.
By comparison James Loney, who is considered a solid defensive first baseman has a range factor of 8.01 and there are only 2 MLB first basemen with a Range Factor higher than Dickson’s 9.45. Albert Pujols at 9.77 and Joey Votto at 9.48. Pujols won the gold glove in 2010 & 2006 and Votto should win the gold glove in 2011 based on the current stats, which he’s at the top of in nearly every category.
The point is not only can young O’Koyea Dickson hit, and yes the Pioneer League is definitely a hitter friendly league, but he also is statistically a fantastic defensive first-basemen. He’s listed at 5’11 and 215 pounds, but he’s thick and is probably closer to 225 than 215. He’s does run well however and looked like an above average athlete the numerous times I watched him in person this season.
It will be interesting to see how his bat translates to Great Lakes or hopefully Rancho Cucamonga in 2012, but his glove has shown that it plays regardless of what level he is sent to. All of these factors make a strong case for O’Koyea Dickson to be the 2011 Ogden Raptors MVP.
However, A solid case can also be made for Joc Pederson. As mentioned earlier his season began in late May when he was sent to Great Lakes. He struggled mightily managing only 8 hits, all singles, in 50 at-bats. He lasted just 16 games, before being sent to Ogden. One positive for young Joc, a 2010 11th round pick, was he struck out 9 times compared to 7 walks during his short stint at Great Lakes.
After missing the Raptors season opener on June 20th, Pederson was inserted into the lineup for the 2nd game of the season and wasted little time making an impact. He doubled in his first at-bat driving in a run, then walked and struck out in his next 2 AB’s, before doubling again and driving in 2 more runs in his 4th at-bat. This would set a precedence for what would be a very strong all around offensive season for Joc.
Joc is listed at 6’1 185 but that must have been his measurements from High School. Like Dickson, Joc has a thick build with a strong lower half. He runs better than Dickson, as demonstrated by his 26 stolen bases, between both Great lakes and Ogden, while only getting caught stealing 5 times.
He too showed solid plate discipline for a 19 year old with a 54 to 36 strike out to walk ratio in Ogden. He destroyed right-handed pitching to the tune of a .377 batting average and also hit all 11 of his homers off of righties. He struggled a bit vs lefties, but he still managed to hit .284 off of them, and actually had a 12/10 K to BB ratio vs lefties. He also is a smart base-runner as he went 10 for 11 in stolen base attempts against lefties.
Joc is also versatile enough to play all 3 outfield positions, however he spent most of his time in left-field. He’s got a solid throwing arm finishing the season with 12 outfield assists between Great Lakes and Ogden, but he also committed 7 errors, 6 of them as a left-fielder. His range factor, which is putouts + assists/games played was a solid 1.76. In comparison to MLB outfielders Joc’s range factor would be equal to Matt Holliday and Ichiro, but far below the elite outfielders like Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen who’s range factor is 2.7. So all in all Joc is above average defensively with decent range and a strong arm.
But Joc’s biggest strength is his bat, and his bat showed well in 2011 as a 19 year old playing in his first real professional season. His .353 average was 4th best overall in the Pioneer League, finishing behind 3 Orem Owlz who play in an extremely hitter friendly park. He finished with 94 hits in 68 games adding 20 doubles, 2 triples and 11 HR.
He had an on-base percentage of .429 which was 2nd best in the league and slugged .568, 7th best, giving him an OPS of .997. By comparison Dickson’s OPS was 1.005. OK finished 2nd in the league in OPS with Joc finishing 3rd. Joc was also 3rd in the league with 54 runs scored and his 64 RBI were 3 better than anyone else in the league. He also finished 3rd in stolen bases.
Given that Joc finished in the top 3 in OBP, OPS, SB and Runs, while finishing 4th in BA, and leading the league in RBI he gets the nod over O’Koyea as Lasorda’s Lair 2011 Ogden Raptors MVP. Throw in the fact that he did this at 19 years old, after struggling mightily at Great Lakes and that tells you something about his character. He didn’t hang his head after his struggles and being sent from Low A to the Rookie League.
Joc also got better as the pressure increased. He hit a remarkable .386 with RISP, .374 with runners on, and just .333 with the bases empty. His .386 average with RISP is seriously impressive, and he hit well both at home (.365) and on the road (.341) his only area that really needs improvement is hitting against lefties.
OK was significantly better defensively and had he played the same number of games as Joc he would definitely have finished higher in every offensive category. OK had a better post-season than Joc, but all in all they both had terrific offensive seasons and provided an excellent lefty righty 1-2 punch in the middle of the Raptors order. It will be interesting to see if they come up through the system together, and if so how they progress.
Joc and OK give the Dodgers 2 young talented all-around prospects to keep an eye on, not bad for 11th and 12th round picks.