Posted in Baseball on June 7, 2007|
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This just in: my hometown Kansas City Royals have drafted slugging Shortstop Mike Moustakas out of Chatsworth High School in California, with the second pick in the MLB amateur draft.
I don’t get it. Are we giving up on Angel Berroa so quickly? He was 2003 Rookie of the Year!
Oh. Never mind.
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Today we’re going to Fenway to meet young Dustin Luis Pedroia. He is one of the rare rookies on my SLP list who has been allowed to work through his struggles without being sent back to the minors. He has been the Red Sox 2B since the end of training camp.
Mr. Pedroia is from Woodland, CA, and chose to play for the dominating college baseball factory at Arizona State University. There he earned Pac-10 player of the year honors, as well as 2003 NCAA Defensive POY. He also befriended the immortal Brady Quinn. When looking through his various online player bios, the ominous word “scrappy” came up. Yes, Dustin is small, listed at 5′ 9″. He is an excellent fielder and base-runner, though he does not appear to be much of a threat to steal (zero so far in 2007).
All well and good, but can he hit? A few weeks ago, the answer would have been “No, not really”. Pedroia was hitting as low as .172 early in the season, and was in serious danger of losing his starting spot to Alex Cora, who is nobody’s long-term answer to anything, other than the trivia question “Name the brother of former Seattle Mariner Joey Cora”. But our hero responded as only a truly scrappy ballplayer can – he exercised exquisite plate discipline (only 11 strikeouts, for a rook?) and legged out some doubles, raising his average to a sparkling .319. His play between May 28th and June 3rd earned him Player of the Week honors in the American League.
And, in his most media-savvy move to date, Lil’ Dustin got into a tiff with A-Rod over a hard slide and an elbow that helped break up a Pedroia relay throw and scored a Yankee run. He didn’t back down from the confrontation, which can only further endear him to the Red Sox Nation and most of the rest of the world.
Pedroia helps form a core of interesting, lesser-known players in Boston, along with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jonathan Papelbon, and mound-gazer Hideki Okajima. We’ll be keeping an eye on his stats throughout the rest of the season with future Smells Like Pujols updates, which can be tracked via the leaderboard in the right-hand sidebar.
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