Former ASU Star Dustin Pedroia To Play In Arizona Fall League

Sept. 29, 2004

Scottsdale Republic
By Brian Gomez

SCOTTSDALE - Dustin Pedroia is returning to the Valley - just not as a member of the Arizona State University baseball team.

He's a Scottsdale Scorpion.

Once projected to participate in a minor-league minicamp this week, the 21-year-old shortstop instead will play for the Arizona Fall League's Scottsdale Scorpions, who open their 38-game season Tuesday at Scottsdale Stadium. advertisement

Pedroia, who was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of this year's Major League Baseball amateur draft, comes to the Scorpions after a successful stint with the Class A Sarasota Red Sox of the Florida State League.

In 30 games, Pedroia batted .336 with eight doubles, three triples, two home runs and 14 RBIs. He was promoted to Sarasota in early August after hitting .421 with the Class A Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League.

'I think that the Red Sox know that I'm ready,' Pedroia said of his chances of getting called up to the major leagues. 'Whoever has seen me play, they know that I'm ready. It's just a matter of getting some at-bats in and getting used to the way that we play pro ball.'

The Red Sox sent all of their other minor-leaguers to the Peoria Saguaros, but they assigned Pedroia to the Scorpions in hopes that he'll receive more playing time. He'll start the season on the taxi squad, meaning he can play only Wednesdays and Saturdays, although there's a good chance that he'll be elevated to the regular roster.

If Pedroia had stayed at ASU for his senior season, he'd be enrolled in classes right now while playing fall ball. He contemplated a return to college during a five-week holdout but ultimately decided to accept Boston's $575,000 signing bonus.

'Me and (ASU coach Pat) Murphy were talking every day during the whole thing,' Pedroia said. 'He said that if they kept doing what they were doing, then I might have to come back to school. He knew that it was a possibility, but he told me that he wouldn't let me go back to school and that I needed to start my career in pro ball.

'I know some teams passed on me, and if it was lower (his draft position, 65th overall), I definitely would have gone back to ASU and played. I just wanted to get in the right situation. A lot of people told me I was going to go earlier, but I was the Boston Red Sox's first pick, and that's a lot better than some situations, so I knew I had to take it.'

In three years with the Sun Devils, Pedroia batted .384 with 71 doubles and 298 hits while starting all 185 games. As a sophomore, he marked a school-record 34 doubles and 120 hits, the fourth-most in ASU history.

Despite the gaudy numbers, Pedroia never played in the College World Series. The closest he got was in 2003, when ASU was eliminated in the Super Regional at Cal State-Fullerton. Pedroia went 0 for 13 in the three-game series.

'When I look back, I'm going to say that it was the greatest time of my life,' Pedroia said. 'We played every game like it was our last game. One team wins it all. One team is going to have a good year. That's what ASU brings. If you don't win it all, then you don't have a good year, and that's the only way it should be when you're playing baseball.'

At 5 foot 9 and 180 pounds, Pedroia often relies on his scrappiness, although his pure athletic ability is evident in a number of dazzling defensive plays. He claims that his short stature isn't a factor.

'If you can play, you can play at any level,' Pedroia said. 'It doesn't matter if you're 4 foot or 7 foot.'

Pedroia anticipates that he'll be in the big leagues sooner than later, as long as he continues producing and keeps a positive mind-set.

'You just think positive every day and you play hard,' Pedroia said, 'and I think good things will happen.'

Brian Gomez is a correspondent for the Scottsdale Republic.
© Arizona Republic (2004)

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