Palo Alto High School has a long track record of celebrities who have attended during their teenage years. The list includes American actors James and Dave Franco, NBA player Jeremy Lin, and Michigan Wolverines football head coach Jim Harbaugh.
A lesser known celebrity and graduate from the 1978 class is former MLB player Stu Pederson. After MLB, Stu Pederson stayed in his home town of Palo Alto to coach the high school baseball team. Thirty-two years later, another Pederson was graduating from Palo Alto high school, but this time as a big-time baseball recruit: Joc Pederson, Stu’s son.
Joc Pederson was drafted by the same team that his dad played for, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selected in the 11th round, he was given a signing bonus of $600,000 to encourage him to decline his scholarship offer to the University of Southern California. He accepted the offer and Joc started the 2011 Minor League baseball season with the Dodgers’ Pioneer League affiliate the Ogden Raptors. He was the youngest player on the Raptors at 19 years old.
After hitting .353 with 11 home runs and leading the league in RBI’s (64), OPS (.997) and outfield assists (9), as well as being second in stolen bases (24) and on-base percentage, being third in runs (54) and walks (36) in 68 games. Pederson was selected as a Pioneer League and Rookie League all star. By season’s end, Peterson was rated the Pioneer League # 3 prospect and the best hitting average in the Dodgers system by Baseball America in 2011. A promotion to the single A league’s Rancho Cucamonga Quakes would end his short and successful career with the Ogden Raptors.
By the end of the 2013 season, Pederson was ranked the #1 prospect in the Dodgers organization. At the beginning of the 2014 season, he was ranked as the 34th best prospect in the minor leagues. The Dodgers invited him to spring training in 2014, and after a successful stint, he was assigned to the AAA Albuquerque Isotopes for the 2014 season.
Pederson was added to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and called up to the majors for the first time on September 1, 2014. Manager Don Mattingly said in a statement, “The people in our organization that have seen him the most say he’s the best center fielder in our organization”
In 2015, the offseason trade of Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres secured Pederson’s position to start the season as the Center Fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Starting for his hometown and childhood favorite team was a dream come true for the young 23 year old.
The first half of the 2015 MLB season has brought major success to Joc, who currently has 20 home runs and 40 RBI’s at the all star break. He has been selected to represent the National League in the home run derby.
Pederson was also selected to play in the MLB all star game, which will take place Tuesday July 14th, the first Los Angeles Dodger rookie to be selected to the squad since Hideo Nomo in 1995.