RED SOX G.M. Theo
Epstein isn't asking for much from rookie Dustin Pedroia. "Just to hit
ninth, make the adjustment to big league pitching, make all the routine plays
at second base." Epstein suspects, however, that he just might get more.
"We think with those relatively modest expectations that he might sneak up
170-pound Pedroia is often compared with the similarly diminutive David
Eckstein, but Pedroia, 23, possesses more power than the Cardinals' shortstop.
Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA system projects him to hit 33 doubles in 2007;
Eckstein's career high is 26. Pedroia's pop, combined with his selectivity (a
.396 OBP in three minor league seasons) and ability to make contact (one K per
16 plate appearances), could immediately make him one of the AL's top nine-hole
hitters. And the 20 pounds of pudge he shed through rigorous off-season
workouts should allow the former shortstop to expand his range, which is
already above average. "I'm just trying to get on base and score runs, and
to make an out [on defense]," says Pedroia.