Daily Distractions: Watch Joc Pederson make a baseball disappear.

Joc Pederson made a baseball disappear Tuesday, with an assist from a Triple-A cameraman.

Pederson hit his third home run of the young season (above) in the Albuquerque Isotopes’ win over the Reno Aces. We know only that the ball cleared the center-field fence in Reno, which is 410 feet from home plate. It’s an understatement to say that Pederson has taken quickly to the Pacific Coast League; he’s 8 for 17 (.471) with three homers, two doubles and two stolen bases in the first five games of the season.

No one needed a reminder of Pederson’s skill. He spent all of spring training with the Dodgers, traveling to Australia for the exhibition game against the Australian National Team. He hit three Cactus League home runs but also struck out 13 times in 38 at-bats. If anything, the PCL is serving as a confidence booster for the 21-year-old prodigy.

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Dodgers acquire Colt Hynes from the Cleveland Indians, designate Mike Baxter for assignment.

Mike Baxter

The Dodgers designated outfielder Mike Baxter for assignment in order to make room for left-handed reliever Colt Hynes on the 40-man roster. (Getty Images)

In a move designed to add depth to their left-handed relief corps, the Dodgers acquired left-hander Colt Hynes from the Cleveland Indians for minor-league pitcher Duke von Schamann on Sunday.

Hynes, 28, was assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque. To make room for Hynes on the 40-man roster, outfielder Mike Baxter was designated for assignment.

Baxter appeared in parts of four games with the Dodgers, going 0-for-7 with a walk, before being optioned to Albuquerque to make room for Matt Kemp on the active roster.
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Dodgers bolster infield depth, claim Carlos Triunfel off waivers.

Carlos Triunfel

The Dodgers claimed Carlos Triunfel off waivers and assigned him to Triple-A Albuquerque. (Tacoma News-Tribune)

The Dodgers claimed infielder Carlos Triunfel on outright waivers from Seattle, added him to the 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Albuquerque.

The 24-year-old Triunfel spent 2013 splitting time between the Mariners and Triple-A Tacoma in Seattle’s organization. An athletic infielder with a strong arm, Triunfel has shown the versatility to play shortstop, second base and third base and has played all three positions in both the Majors and minors.

In his seven minor league seasons, Triunfel has posted a .276 batting average. Last year at Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League, he batted .282/.328/.394 with 30 extra-base hits among 108 total.

In 27 major-league games, all with the Mariners, Triunfel has a 11 hits in 66 at-bats (.167). He also batted .167 in eight Cactus League games.

The Dodgers now have 40 players on their 40-man roster.
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Daily Distractions: Julio Urias gets his Mexican food, and Dodgers fans in Rancho Cucamonga get their prospects.

Julio Urias

Julio Urias struck out Will Venable and Yonder Alonso and got Chris Denorfia to ground out in his only spring training inning. (Associated Press photo)

This is a rough map of all the Mexican restaurants in Rancho Cucamonga.

Julio Urias is waiting.

On March 15, after he pitched a scoreless inning against the San Diego Padres — something Brian Wilson couldn’t do last night — Urias still didn’t know where he would begin the regular season. At least the Dodgers’ prized pitching prospect had no trouble identifying the hardest part of being uprooted to the United States at 16.

“It wasn’t really hard except for the food,” he said in Spanish. “The food was probably the hardest part for me.”

Fortunately for Urias, now 17, there are many options in the neighborhood of the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate in the California League.

As we reported yesterday, Urias will be assigned to Rancho along with 2013 first-round draft picks Chris Anderson and Tom Windle, along with Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2012.

In case you’re counting at home, that’s four of the club’s top 10 prospects (per MLB.com) playing in one spot, about an hour east of Los Angeles.

Urias, Anderson and Windle all finished last season with Class-A Great Lakes, and each saw action in one Cactus League game. The Dodgers drafted Anderson and Windle in the first and second rounds of the 2013 draft, respectively, out of college. Urias was signed as a free agent out of Culiacan, Mexico.

Pitcher Zach Lee and outfielder Joc Pederson will begin the season with Triple-A Albuquerque. So will Matt Magill and possibly Onelki Garcia once he’s healthy.

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Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling has surgery, but it isn’t Tommy John.

Pitcher Ross Stripling underwent surgery this morning in Los Angeles performed Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

According to a team spokesperson, the surgery was an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from an inflamed and swollen elbow. The plan is to allow the inflammation to resolve and restore range of motion before proceeding with the Tommy John reconstruction.

Here’s what Stripling had to say about his elbow after reporting the injury to the team last Friday.

Daily Distractions: What happened to Stephen Fife?

Stephen Fife

Stephen Fife is 3-6 with a 3.49 earned-run average in 17 major-league games (15 starts), all with the Dodgers. (Getty Images)

Through no fault of his own, Stephen Fife was not the talk of spring training a year ago. People were talking about the Dodgers’ high-priced roster of superstars and how they would jell, the eight starting pitchers with guaranteed major-league contracts when camp broke, and the intrigue surrounding rookies Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Fife had no chance of starting the season in the major leagues due to the aforementioned surplus of starters. So he began the season Albuquerque, only to be summoned to Los Angeles three weeks later when injuries struck Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Zack Greinke. His return was hastened because Fife had a marvelous camp, his fastball suddenly sitting in the mid-90s after sporadically breaking 90 the year before.

Manager Don Mattingly said at the time that “this guy has come so far last spring to this spring — huge strides.”

On Tuesday, Fife’s name was among the first group of players optioned to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp. So what happened?

Fife said Tuesday that he was taking a different, less intense approach to spring training this year. The approach was born from wisdom, but also might have led to his premature demotion.

“I have no idea what (my) velocity is so far,” he said. “I’m throwing at a ‘competitive level’ but not a midseason level. Watching (Josh) Beckett, (Clayton) Kershaw, (Zack) Greinke, those guys — some days they take it easy.”

After struggling with bursitis in his right shoulder for much of 2013, Fife began his off-season spending four days a week with Dodgers physical therapist Steve Smith trying to correct the mechanical issues that led to his bursitis in the first place. He said the scapula bone in his right shoulder had actually migrated up his back.

It wasn’t until the second week of January that Fife said he was throwing pain-free.

“I didn’t have much of an off-season,” he said.

Maybe Fife could have touched 95 on the radar gun in camp. After a short off-season, he seemed content to save his best stuff for April and beyond.

There were other factors working against Fife. The Dodgers wanted to see more from Zach Lee, Seth Rosin and Jarret Martin, three younger pitchers getting their first look in the Dodgers’ major-league camp. Each is still an unproven talent against major-league hitters. Lee and Martin might be deserving of a call-up later this season (Rosin is a Rule 5 pick who must make the Opening Day roster or else go on waivers), but they also need more time against major-league hitters in camp to earn that opportunity.

Fife is a known quantity. He went 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) last season. The 27-year-old has one option year left on his contract. Fife could always pull a Justin Sellers and sneak back onto the roster before the end of camp, or pull a Stephen Fife and find his way back by the end of April.

That would require a spate of injuries to the team’s top starters, but we’ve seen that before. Keep an eye on Fife; he might be back.

Some bullet points for a Multiple Personality Day:
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Ross Stripling will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dodgers manager Don Mattingly confirmed that pitcher Ross Stripling will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow morning in Los Angeles to replace a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The surgery will be performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

The 24-year-old right hander initially injured his elbow pitching live batting practice Feb. 21. Stripling said he first felt pain while throwing a cut fastball to Joc Pederson, but did not report the injury at the time and even pitched a second inning of live BP.

On Feb. 26, Stripling pitched two innings in the Dodgers’ first Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Stripling’s fastball registered in the low-90 mph range, and he did not appear to be throwing abnormally.

However, Mattingly was told that Stripling tore his ligament Feb. 21 throwing batting practice.

“That sucks,” Mattingly said. “The kid was on a good roll. It just changes the timetable more than anything else.”

Stripling is listed as the number-10 prospect in the organization on the Dodgers’ website. He was attending his first major-league spring training on a minor league contract. Stripling went 6-4 with a 2.78 earned-run average in 21 games (16 starts) at Double-A Chatanooga. He posted a 2.94 ERA in six starts with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga before earning a midseason promotion.

More details in tomorrow’s editions.

A brief, brief Carlos Mosquera scouting report.

The Dodgers’ baseball ops department passed along this very rough sketch of 18-year-old Carlos Mosquera, an amateur prospect from Panama City whom the Dodgers signed today:

Mosquera is a switch hitter and an above average runner. He plays center field. At 18, he’s equivalent to a high school-age player. He’ll report to Campos Los Palmas in the Dominican Republic and participate in the 2014 Dominican Summer League.

Daily Distractions: Four Dodgers make MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list; what that means.

Corey Seager

Dodgers prospect Corey Seager ranked 34th on MLB.com’s list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. (Associated Press photo)

If you’re looking for a sign of progress from the Dodgers’ farm system, here’s one: MLB.com released its annual list of the top 100 prospects yesterday, and the Dodgers occupied four spots.

Four decent spots, too: Shortstop Corey Seager came in at number 34, outfielder Joc Pederson at number 36, and pitchers Zach Lee and Julio Urias at 63 and 64.

Compare that to a year ago, and the Dodgers’ system seems to be inching up. Pederson was the highest-ranked Dodger in 2013 at number 44, Seager at 48. Lee slipped a bit — MLB.com had him ranked 57th in 2013 — but Urias vaulted 25 spots from 89th overall.

Don’t get bogged down too much in the specifics. One quick general takeaway is that, in a perfect world, 30 MLB teams would have an average of 3.33 prospects ranked in the top 100. On the high end, then, the Dodgers are still only slightly above average. The Astros, who picked first in the June draft each of the last two years, had seven prospects among MLB.com’s top 100. The Angels, who haven’t had a first-round pick since 2011, had none.

Upward movement is always good. In 2011, the first year that MLB.com ranked prospects, the list ended at number 50. The final slot belonged to a Seattle Mariners pitching prospect from Yucaipa named Taijuan Walker. Walker jumped up to number 4 in both 2012 and 2013, then slipped to number 6 in 2014 — after posting a 3.60 ERA in three starts in 2013. He’s slotted to start this season in the Mariners’ rotation.

MLB.com’s number-45 prospect in 2011 was Matt Harvey. If a 6.1-WAR season at age 24 is what the Dodgers can expect from Pederson or Seager (and not Tommy John surgery), they’ll take it. That’s an extreme example of course, and it’s too soon to issue passing or failing grades on any 2011 prospects. Paco Rodriguez was in college in 2011.

So the immediate meaning of this list is that several teams are in better position to trade for David Price than the Dodgers. The long-term meaning? Who knows.

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Daily Distractions: About the time Miguel Rojas met Omar Vizquel.

Miguel Rojas

Miguel Rojas (bottom) could figure into the Dodgers’ infield depth. (Getty Images)

Omar Vizquel was a good-fielding, no-hit shortstop in 1992 when Bart Simpson traded his ripped-up Vizquel card to his friend Milhouse for a pristine Carl Yastrzemski card.

Twenty years later, when Vizquel retired at age 45, he was considered one of the best-fielding shortstops of all time — and he had 2,877 career hits to his name. After being born with the ability to field the ball, it was Vizquel’s evolution into a switch-hitting singles machine that allowed him to play 24 major-league seasons.

Vizquel was hired as the Detroit Tigers’ first-base coach in November after serving as a roving instructor in the Angels’ system last year. He spent the winter coaching for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League.

When Miguel Rojas, the Dodgers’ slick-fielding infield prospect, met up with Vizquel in their native Venezuela, their conversation focused on hitting.

“He just told me what helped him to be a better hitter and get almost 3,000 hits in the big leagues,” Rojas said last week at the Dodgers’ winter development camp. “That’s what I want to learn, because I know he’s already a great fielder, Gold Glover, so I want to be as good as him.

“He told me this story that he was just a right-handed hitter, and then he learned how to hit left-handed late, and then when he started hitting left-handed, he understood what kind of player he was, as an offensive part. That’s one of the big pieces of advice he gave to me: learn who you are as a hitter. That’s an important thing in this part of your career.”

Rojas batted .241 for Los Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan League, and that could be considered an improvement. The 24-year-old hit .233/.303/.307 last year for Double-A Chattanooga. His career slash line in 674 minor-league games is .234/.302/.287.

Given those numbers, it came as some surprise when general manager Ned Colletti said that Rojas would be in the mix for major-league at-bats in spring training as the Dodgers sort out their candidates to play second base.

“Miguel Rojas will get a good look,” Colletti said. “He’s an excellent defensive player. He’s played more shortstop than he has any place else, but we’re expanding that. … I think he’s game for the situation. I think he wants that opportunity. We’re going to give him that chance.”

Alexander Guerrero is the leading candidate to start at second base on Opening Day. Dodgers management was hoping to see more in winter ball of Guerrero, who signed a four-year contract in October, but a recurring hamstring injury limited him to 12 games in the Dominican League. Guerrero, who established residence in Haiti last year after defecting from Cuba, still hasn’t been able to come to America as he awaits a visa. So the competition is somewhat open.

For Rojas, hitting major-league pitching seems to be the only obstacle.

“He’s an unbelievable defender,” pitcher Zach Lee said of his Chattanooga teammate. “He’s got some of the best hands I’ve seen. He’s a great guy on and off the field. He speaks really good English. He took that role on to be a mediator — if you wanted to speak to a Spanish-speaker, he was the translator.”

The origin of Rojas’ slick hands has a mythological quality to it.

“When I was little, I always took more groundballs than hits. That’s why I’m a better defensive player than a hitter,” he said. “That’s not an excuse. When I was in Venezuela when I was little, the fields [were] not as good as they are here in the States. I was taking groundballs on the rocks. I think that’s one of the things that helped me as a defensive guy.”

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