Joc Pederson declared that hitting already was a difficult process. To those watching him these days, it would appear the opposite is true.
The Dodgers' No. 2 prospect homered twice and drove in five runs during a perfect night at the plate Tuesday as Triple-A Albuquerque outslugged El Paso, 11-6.
After walking in his first at-bat, Pederson slugged a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Isotopes a 3-1 lead. An inning later, he launched a three-run blast to complete his fifth career multi-homer game. Pederson added a double and a single, finishing a triple shy of the cycle while going 4-for-4.
"It was just trying to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it," said Pederson, who raised his batting average to .442. "We were playing well, it was nice to get a win tonight. I think everyone swung the bat pretty well."
Pederson also hiked his OPS to a Minor League-leading 1.447. He's second in the Pacific Coast League and tied for third in the Minors with five homers among nine extra-base hits. But the 21-year-old outfielder doesn't think much of his early-season success.
"I think just pitch selection," he said. "I'm just trying to get a good pitch and get a good swing on it. Hitting is already hard enough, just go with the flow. Honestly, I don't look at my numbers and it's still super-early. It doesn't matter how you start, it's about how you finish."
While Pederson is knocking on the big league door, he knows he has to show improvement in order to take that next step.
"The coordinators are always coming to town and trying to make my weakness stronger and keep working on my strengths," MLB.com's No. 34 overall prospect said. "My defense, getting better jumps, positioning myself better. On the basepaths, really watching the pitcher before I get out there to get a better jump. Working on being more selective at the plate. There's a bunch of things they want me to work on."
Batting one spot ahead of Pederson, Isotopes leadoff man Mike Baxter was 4-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored.
"Awesome," Pederson said of Baxter's game. "Great momentum swing to start the innings off and whatnot. Can't really ask for more from someone hitting in front of you."
Miguel Olivo also went yard twice and collected four RBIs as Albuquerque ended a three-game slide.
"I think it's pretty awesome to have someone with so much experience," Pederson said of the 35-year-old catcher. "He's as smart as they get. I think we're all fortunate to have him on the team."
Matt Magill (1-1), the Dodgers' 12th-ranked prospect, gave up three runs -- one earned -- on five hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
El Paso's Alex Castellanos doubled, singled and drove in two runs against his former team.