If Matt Kemp hits the DL, Dodgers may go prospecting

Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is dealing with an achy hamstring, an injury suffered in his team's 4-3 loss to the Angels on Wednesday. Kemp is headed for a Thursday MRI. For now, he's considered day-to-day. But we may soon downgrade him to week-to-week.

Kemp's manager offered up some pessimism on Wednesday night...

"I shouldn't say it, but anytime you hear the dreaded hamstring word, usually it lasts a little bit," [Don] Mattingly said.

So it does. Kemp missed 58 days with a hamstring injury last season (though he reportedly doesn't think this year's tweak is as severe).

LA will have an interesting decision to make if Kemp hits the disabled list, because the team doesn't really have a stellar replacement option on the major league roster. Carl Crawford isn't shifting to center, and Skip Schumaker is Skip Schumaker. And, as the LA Times' Steve Dilbeck points out...

At Triple-A Albuquerque, the center field choices are not exactly appealing: Matt Angle (.298 batting, .440 slugging), Tony Gwynn Jr. (.288, .360) and Elian Herrera (.304, .403). And none are on the 40-man roster.

But when we look to Chattanooga, the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate, the names get better — much better.

Joc Pederson, 21, has been the regular center fielder at Chattanooga, and he's off to a blazing start this season. Pederson is hitting .313/.393/.516 with eight homers in 219 plate-appearances, plus he's swiped 15 bags in 17 attempts. He delivered an almost identical slash line at Single-A last year (.313/.396/.516), while clearing the fence 18 times and stealing 26 bases. So he's a legit talent.

Then there's Yasiel Puig, the $42 million Cuban defector who dominated during Cactus League play this spring (30-for-58, .828 SLG). Puig is hitting .309/.386/.590 in Double-A with eight bombs and 11 steals (and 15 walks, which is 15 more than he had in the spring). He's spent most of his year in right field for Chattanooga, making only two appearances in center. And he also made that one appearance on the police blotter (for reckless driving).

Most veteran Dodger-watchers (like this one, and this one) seem to think Pederson is the call-up here, if indeed the team reaches into its minor league system. If that's the case, then the Puigists (like me) will simply have to wait a bit longer. Pederson will certainly be worth a look in mixers, whenever he hits your waiver wire.

If Tony Gwynn Jr. is promoted ... well, no. They wouldn't do that to us, right? Let us not speak of it.

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