The San Diego Padres are in the midst of a transition period. The team that last year consisted of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Melvin Upton Jr. in the outfield in 2015 is gone. Both Upton brothers have left town now and Myers has moved to first base. There are also rumors that the Padres are desperately trying to move Matt Kemp and get away from his mammoth contract.
With all these veterans departing, the team needs players to step up while they get playing time. Alex Dickerson has certainly done that as he has now hit a home run in four straight games (a new Padres rookie record) and looks to be entrenched in the Padres outfield for the rest of the season. There is no need to move him out of the lineup at this point and with Tuesday’s trade of Melvin Upton Jr., he should get ample playing time.
A.J. Preller has done well in constructed a young minor league farm system. With all that youth, it will take time for them to reach the major league level, Sure Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer will probably be able to move rather quickly through the farm system, but players like Fernando Tatis Jr., Hudson Potts, and Anderson Espinoza are a few years from competing. You have to like what Preller has done in overhauling the farm system. The future is bright, fans will just have to be slightly patient.
Dickerson has hit at every level as you can see from his stats above. A minor league career batting line of .309/.367/.501 indicates he is no fluke. He put up those numbers in 524 minor league games and that is a pretty clear indication of who he is as a hitter. The man just needs an opportunity and it appears he will be given that for the remainder of the 2016 season. Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe will probably be left in Triple-A so their service time does not start just yet. You could see each in September, but A.J. Preller has already indicated he plans on leaving them down for the remainder of the minor league year. The Chihuahuas are having a great season and a playoff run will be a very nice learning experience for these young men.
Dickerson’s blast at Toronto (video below) shows you the power he has in his bat. The Padres need a left-handed hitting presence in the middle of their lineup and they may have found that man in Dickerson. There will be bumps in the road as he will be attacked differently. Right now he is abusing off-speed pitches from lefties or righties. At the same time he has had trouble handling hard fastballs. Expect teams to start to pound him in with fastballs and he will need to adjust to that. This league is all about adjustments and the young outfielder will need to learn his swing and perfect his approach at the plate.
The future for Alex Dickerson seems bright. The former Poway High School standout is a great story. The local fans love seeing him succeed and with the run he is currently on, he will likely be in the major leagues to stay. The 26-year-old is still young enough to develop even more power. Which is a scary thing. The power he is beginning to show is very exciting for Padres management. Usually with hitters, power is the last thing to develop. Seeing Dickerson essentially one hand a home run late in the game on Wednesday, tells me that he is really squaring the ball up now. There could be more power on display from this young man in the near future.
The left-handed hitter is locked in and things could get very interesting in Petco in the next season or two. Dickerson and Travis Jankowski are already currently on the Padres 25-man roster. Margot and Renfroe are close to being ready and then you have names like Jabari Blash, Michael Gettys and Buddy Reed. The Padres have no shortage of outfield prospects to choose from. Jon Jay and Matt Kemp are currently still on the roster and each will have to be moved. Jay is in the last year of his contract and should be moved once he proves his broken arm is healthy. Kemp is the elephant in the room. He obviously needs to go to make room for young talent, but with his hefty contract that is no easy task. At this point the Padres will just have to weigh their options with the slugging Kemp. Things could get very interesting soon as Kemp is really producing offensively. Perhaps a team will want to take a chance on him in the middle of their lineup. Only time will tell.
Expect to see a lot of Dickerson for the next few months. Andy Green and the Padres coaching staff must see him on a daily basis in order to determine if he has what it takes to be an everyday player at this highest level. He has shown an ability to stay in there and hit lefties pretty well so that is a positive sign. Still there is much to diagnose when it comes to evaluating Dickerson. Those determinations can only be made after seeing him perform on a daily basis. It will be fun to see the development of this young Padres team. Dickerson will be the first of many to cut their teeth with the Padres. Be patient with these young guys, because a couple of them might surprise you. Alex Dickerson, the home town kid, could be a great story for Padres fans.