I have a friend named Joe who played baseball at Poway High school from 2007-09. Joe’s quite a character and was even more so back in his high school years. My brother, his friends and I used to enjoy razzing Joe for his many zany high jinks and tall tales.
There was one running-joke that stuck with us for years. Joe used to talk about a mythical creature named Dickerson who played on the baseball team at Poway with him. Joe, who rarely spoke a word with conviction, used to describe Dickerson’s amazing baseball abilities and displayed the highest level of admiration for him. So high in fact, that we began to think that it had to be some kind of a joke. So the on-going shtick began that my brother and I would regularly make it a point to ask Joe (in jest) about how Dickerson’s doing? This went on well after the high school years were over, until just recently when I personally felt the need to eat my words. All of a sudden Alex Dickerson, the ‘Dickerson’, became one of my favorite San Diego Padres.
As mentioned, Dickerson is a home-grown product in the truest sense. He did grow up in Poway and played his High School baseball as a Titan at Poway High. He played college ball at the University of Indiana and was drafted by the Pirates in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
In 2013 he was involved in a minor trade that brought him to the Padres organization. In 2015 he began his tenure with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas and got a cup of coffee with the big club in August and September. In 2016, He began the season in Triple-A and mashed. hard. He made his way back up to the Padres in May and has put up some solid numbers and has had some memorable, shall I say clutch, moments.
One interesting thing I noticed is that in 2016 Dickerson has been quite consistent at the plate going from El Paso to San Diego. In El Paso this season his slash line was .382/.425/.622 in 241 plate appearances. That’s really good. In San Diego it’s .247/.316/.443 in 244 plate appearances. That’s also very good, taking into account the adjustment to major league pitching.
At this point, Dickerson has practically had the same amount of plate appearances in El Paso as he has had in San Diego. He had 10 home runs in El Paso. He has nine in San Diego. Also, He struck out 27 times in El Paso and has only 36 strikeouts in San Diego. That’s very consistent; especially when considering the aforementioned adjustment to major league pitching. Not to mention, the Pacific Coast League is a notorious hitters league. It’s nice to see only a slight disparity in the numbers so far.
Dickerson also has had some great moments in 2016. On May 10, eight days after being called up from El Paso, he hit a pinch hit grand slam in Wrigley Field for his first career home run. In July, he had a three-game home run steak going from the 24th-26th. In the middle of that streak, on July 25, he hit a fifth deck homer at the Rogers Center in Toronto. He’s just the 19th player to ever do that and only the third lefty. Then there was that game on August 18 against the Diamondbacks, where he hit a three-run double in the eighth inning to give the Padres a 9-8 come from behind victory.
Now the question is, with all the outfield depth that the Padres have, what is Dickerson’s future? There are a few things to consider. First of all, right now Dickerson is doing well to establish himself as a starting outfielder. The stats mentioned above show him to at least be an option. Currently the Padres have Jon Jay, Travis Jankowski, Oswaldo Arcia and Dickerson manning the outfield. Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot are expected to come up sometime soon. That’s a log jam. Jon Jay will be a free agent in the off season but there has been discussion of resigning him. I like Jon Jay a lot but I don’t like that idea due to the current depth. Arcia started off hot but has fizzled. I would really like to see Jankowski, Dickerson, Renfroe and Margot holding down the fort in 2017 and here’s why:
Andy Green is creative when it comes to using players on the field. We’ve seen infielders play the outfield on a handful of occasions. If Christian Bethancourt comes back next year, he’s no regular outfielder but he could serve as a sort of backup outfielder. Same with Alexi Amarista. Same with Wil Myers. Those instances would be rare but the flexibility they provide seem very appealing. Back to Dickerson; he was originally a first-base prospect. Maybe he could re-acclimate himself with the position and become a left-handed backup option at first. He could spell Brett Wallace, who has struggled this season, while remaining a fourth outfielder at worst. The key is having players who provide multiple options while still being proficient at their every-day positions. A plan like this provides lots of outfield options while leaving more roster spots for reserve infielders.
I’m not sure how the dog fight for the Padres outfield will pan out in 2017 and beyond but it’s exciting to speculate and see who comes out on top. I’m rooting for Alex Dickerson because it seems to me that he has the potential to become a consistent hitter with some serious power.
It’s also a little bit fun to have that second degree connection to him and some funny memories of Dickerson lore.