Alex Dickerson Update
Although the internet is a ablaze with prospective trades involving the Pirates, one minor leaguer who seems to be flying under the radar is Alex Dickerson, the former Indiana University slugger drafted by Pittsburgh with the first pick in the 3rd round last year. Some of this inattention is due to the fact that Dickerson got off to a slow start at Bradenton, a level that a player of his pedigree would be expected to handle, if not dominate.
In the offseason, I had Dickerson rated at #9 on my list of the Pirates’ top 30 prospects, which was considerably higher than any other site ranked him. Before I had to chance to admit my error in judgment, Dickerson started to improve gradually but steadily, to the point where he now deserves a promotion to Double-A Altoona. Dickerson hasn’t done anything flashy, but all of his numbers have improved from month-to-month, with the exception of his BB/K numbers, which have been a bit all over the place.
I saw Dickerson at Bradenton in April, and he passed the eye test, despite a lack of results at the time. He has a nice left-handed stroke with some natural loft to it, and he makes solid contact, but he was having trouble maintaining consistency, and was hitting too many balls on the ground. His GB% has since declined from 47.8 in April to 43.2 in June and 25.6 thus far in July, with concomitant increases in his LD% and FB%. Dickerson has been a disappointment to those looking for big time power from a former NCAA slugger, but his ISO has jumped from .084 to .264 during the year. More importantly, Dickerson has an acceptable K%, and is not subject to a platoon bias, handling lefties as well as he has righties. As a result, I think that we are looking at a guy whose ceiling might be lower than expected but whose floor is also higher.
At this point in time, every day that Dickerson spends in Single A is a waste of his time. He has an excellent pedigree, having played college baseball at a major program, and he handled the Cape Cod League against excellent competition. He is 22 years old, and needs to combine levels in one season to remain age appropriate going forward. Looking at AA, the Pirates have Matt Curry there, who is putting up some big numbers that need to be taken with a large grain of salt. Curry is almost two full years older than Dickerson, is repeating the level, and his recent outburst in June and July is mostly thanks to gaudy BAbips of .500 and .545 respectively. He also has a fairly severe platoon split, with an OPS of .740 against LHP vs. .990 against RHP.
This Pirates’ front office has a history of reluctance, or inability, to discern between their minor league players. Just because the Bucs have Jeff Clement and Matt Hague at AAA Indianapolis and Curry at AA Altoona does not mean that they should stall the development of Dickerson – the only legitimate prospect amongst the group. The Pirates should trade or cut bait with Clement and Hague, and promote Curry to allow Dickerson to be placed at an appropriate level.