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.

Some bullet points for a Name Yourself Day:
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Dodgers 5, Texas Rangers 5: ‘Starters’ Paul Maholm and Seth Rosin star in another tie game.

Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm allowed three hits, one run, walked none and struck out four batters Saturday. (Associated Press photo)


SURPRISE, Ariz. — Based on how they’ve been used in the past and how they’ve pitched in spring training, Paul Maholm and Seth Rosin could both be in a major-league rotation this season. Yet if either pitcher makes the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, it will probably be as a reliever.

That’s simply a function of where the numbers are right now; the Dodgers began camp with five healthy starters on guaranteed major-league contracts before bringing in Maholm and Rosin. Zack Greinke‘s mild calf injury aside, that hasn’t changed.

The 31-year-old Maholm has been a starter for his entire career, and he started Saturday. He threw more than 50 pitches — 41 in the first three innings of the Dodgers’ 5-5 against the Texas Rangers and another “12 or so” in the bullpen.

“I’m preparing for the season like I have for, I think this is my 11th spring,” Maholm said. “I’m going to try and get quick outs. The stuff with mechanics is stuff that you deal with during the season. I’m going to prepare and pitch whenever they tell me to. If I pitch well everything’s going to work out. I’m not concerned with roles or anything. You pitch well, they find a spot for you.”

Rosin is on a starter’s program too. The 25-year-old right-hander threw three innings (4, 5 and 6) while allowing only one unearned run before an announced crowd of 8,153 at Surprise Stadium. His third Cactus League appearance was easily his worst so far. He struggled with command, walking a batter and throwing a wild pitch, and also balked runners to second and third base in the fifth inning.

But he left the game with the Dodgers ahead 3-2. Rosin still hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight spring innings. He’s struck out 10 batters in eight innings and allowed only five hits.

“These guys are both being built as starters and right now that’s where we’re at,” Mattingly said, after declining to comment on the possibility that either would begin the season in the bullpen.

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Arizona Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 1.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw gave up five hits and three runs in two innings in his first Cactus League start. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers are 0-1. Clayton Kershaw has a 13.50 earned-run average.

“If it wasn’t for that Kershaw guy we’d be in good shape,” manager Don Mattingly quipped.

The takeaways from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 4-1 victory over the Dodgers at Salt River Fields on Wednesday were limited, to put it mildly.

Among the more meaningful performances, Yasiel Puig twice faced Brandon McCarthy, who will almost certainly be in the Diamondbacks’ major-league rotation if he’s healthy. Puig singled to right field in his first at-bat and doubled in his second at-bat. The latter hit gave the Dodgers their only run when Carl Crawford scored all the way from first base.

Kershaw pitched two innings, allowed five hits, three runs (all earned), walked one and struck out two. He threw 42 pitches — 26 strikes — then “faced two hitters” by throwing about 15 more pitches in the bullpen.

“I wasn’t throwing the ball where I wanted to,” he said. “There were some off-speed pitches I needed to throw better. That one to Montero I struck him out on was probably up, honestly. That one that Pollock hit, there’s just some balls that I left up. Just a lot to work on.”

Kershaw didn’t downplay his pitching line.

“I’m a results-based guy,” he said. “I want to see outs. Today left a lot to be desired.”

The Diamondbacks scored their final run in the eighth inning off Ross Stripling.

Some more postgame notes and observations:
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Daily Distractions: Because it’s never too soon, sizing up the Dodgers’ 2015 rotation.

Zach Lee

Zach Lee will attend his first spring training this weekend. Will he be in the Dodgers’ rotation in 2015? (Associated Press photo)


Today, we look ahead to next fall because, well, why not?

Josh Beckett, Dan Haren and Chad Billingsley — if the Dodgers decline his option — will become free agents after this season. Do the Dodgers have two pitchers in their system who would be ready to fill the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation by 2015?

Maybe. Zach Lee continues to be ranked as a top-100 prospect with middle-of-the-rotation potential. Ross Stripling could be closer than Lee to reaching the majors, depending on who you talk to in the organization. Julio Urias is 17, so probably not. The jury’s still out on the potential of Matt Magill, Seth Rosin and a few others.

The jury’s still out on all of them, actually, since you simply never know how much time a prospect needs to reach his potential. And if the Dodgers’ transactions log over the past two years indicates nothing else, it’s that they prefer proven performance to potential.

So who’s in the next wave of free-agent starters? The list could include Max Scherzer, James Shields, Justin Masterson, Homer Bailey and Jon Lester. Even if Scherzer gets a big extension from the Detroit Tigers, as expected, that’s still a strong class — stronger than this year’s, certainly. All of the Dodgers’ free-agent decisions this year were made with potential 2015 free agents in mind. (That principle applies every winter.)

In the linked piece, FanGraphs.com’s Dave Cameron concludes that Scherzer, Lester and Bailey are the most likely to re-sign long-term extensions. That potentially leaves Shields and Masterson as the cream of the 2015 crop. Depending on their health and performance in 2014, they would almost certainly be the best fourth starters in baseball if they joined the Dodgers.

Cameron predicts that Shields could command a five- or six-year contract “and probably close to the $25 million AAV that many of the better pitchers have attained recently.” Shields turned 32 in December. Despite his career WAR of 28.0 in eight seasons, that’s still quite a bit of risk to take on.

But so is giving the job to a prospect.

Taken together, who do you like in the group to fill out the 2015 rotation?

Some bullet points for a Tuesday morning:
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Fifteen prospects invade Dodger Stadium starting Sunday.

Nick Buss

Outfielder Nick Buss is one of 15 players scheduled to participate in the Dodgers’ annual prospects development program this week. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers’ annual Winter Development Program, designed to help acclimate prospects to the major-league environment, begins Sunday and runs through Thursday at Dodger Stadium. The program is closed to the public.

Outfielder Joc Pederson, rated by Baseball America as the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect, headlines a list of 15 prospects scheduled to participate. Others include pitchers Seth Rosin, Zach Lee, Ross Stripling, Jose Dominguez, Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, Matt Magill, Chris Reed and Jarret Martin; outfielders Nick Buss and Scott Schebler; infielder Miguel Rojas; and catchers Pratt Maynard and Chris O’Brien.

Their schedule includes seminars with Dodger staffers and workouts that focus on fundamentals, strength training and conditioning. Off the field, the program is highlighted by sessions with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, general manager Ned Colletti, team president Stan Kasten, former manager Tommy Lasorda, and retired players Don Newcombe, Maury Wills, Eric Karros, Shawn Green. There will be social events in the greater Los Angeles area and a community service visit to A Place Called Home, a youth center in South L.A.

Six of the 11 participants in last year’s Winter Development Program played in the Major Leagues in 2013. Since its inception in 2008, 40 participating players have reached the big leagues.

Here’s a bit about what each player did in 2013, not including the winter league season:
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