Today the San Diego Padres promoted outfield prospect Alex Dickerson to the major league roster. Dickerson has been on prospect lists for years and will turn 26 this month, but he's usually performed well and has little left to prove in the minors. Can he establish himself on the big league roster?
Originally a third round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, the Indiana University product was traded to the Padres in the fall of 2013. He hit well in 2014 (.317/.368/.503) but was limited to 34 games in Double-A by injury. He continued to mash in 2015 (.307/.374/.503) in Triple-A and received a brief trial with the Padres last year, going 2-for-8 over 11 games. This year he was mashing again with a .352/.405/.549 line in Triple-A.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Alex Dickerson, OF, San Diego Padres
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-3 WT: 235 DOB: May 26, 1990
2012: Grade C+; 2013: Grade C+; 2014: Grade B-; 2015: Grade C+
The old saying: "this guy can hit .300 in his sleep." I think that applies to Alex Dickerson. Although not a walk machine he’s difficult to fool and can drive the ball to any part of the park, hard. The problem is, where do you play him? He’s a terrible first baseman and while not a horrid defender at the outfield corners, his lack of speed and range is problematic for a guy who isn’t going to hit 20 homers. I was trying to think of a comp for Dickerson and the first guy who came to mind was Glenn Adams. Who the hell was Glenn Adams, you ask? He was a guy who played for the Giants and Twins back in the late 70s. He was not a comp with Dickerson physically (Adams was just 6-0, 180) but their bats were similar: Adams could rip Triple-A pitching, made hard contact, and had doubles power, but he didn’t have much of a glove and was hard to fit into a lineup. He did have two good years in the majors, hitting .338/.376/.468 in 269 at-bats as a platoon DH for the Twins in 1977 at age 29, then .301/.350/.420 in 326 at-bats in 1979 at age 31. He faded fast after that. I can see Dickerson doing something similar. Grade C+.
I’m so old that my player comps have to be explained. Sigh.
Nothing that Dickerson has done in 2016 changes the pre-season take. He can hit for average and moderate power and I don't think that will change against big league pitching. But where do you fit him?
DH would be a natural choice, but the Padres don't have that option. For a National League team, Dickerson would have the most value as a pinch-hitter and platoon bat. As for the Glenn Adams comparison in the book, looking back in more detail Dickerson has more present power than Adams did at the same stage but the dilemma on how you use him is similar, as may be the pattern of future use.
I would not be surprised if Dickerson has a power surge in his late 20s which could push him into some regular playing time somewhere, though that may not be for San Diego.