LOS ANGELES -- Joc Pederson has never been to Israel, so the idea of playing in the World Baseball Classic was pretty far-fetched for the young hitter.
But after talking to his roommate in Spring Training, he realized it wasn't such a crazy idea, having grown up in a Jewish community with a mother who is Jewish.
Fast forward to Friday, fresh off of playing for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifier and coming a game short of reaching the Classic, Pederson was at Dodger Stadium to be honored as the Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year.
That experience, combined with a stellar season with Class A Rancho Cucamonga, has Pederson riding high. He will be playing in the Arizona Fall League, suiting up for the Mesa Solar Sox next month.
"I'd love to go to Big League camp to get to know some of the guys and then go to Double-A and give it my best," Pederson said.
The experience playing for Team Isreal, which lost to Spain in the qualifier final last Sunday, has helped prepare him for the challenges ahead.
Surrounded by former players Shawn Green, Brad Ausmus, Gabe Kapler and Mark Loretta, Pederson said the experience was one he'll never forget.
"We were only together for like 10 days and this group of guys had so much team chemistry," Pederson said. "They gave me an inside view of what they had to go through and what helped them become a better player and hitter."
Pederson, who was drafted in the 11th round in 2010, batted .313 with 26 steals, 26 doubles, four triples, 18 homers and 70 RBIs in 110 games with the Quakes. He went 4-for-13 with three steals and three runs in three games with Team Israel.