Prospects can really try your patience at times… especially if you draft a player based on his overall athletic ability and pray that he can translate that to the ball diamond. Such was the case with the Cincinnati Reds organization and Chris Dickerson, who was drafted out of the University of Nevada in the 16th round of the 2003 draft.
He showed signs of life in 2007 and fully emerged from his cocoon in 2008 when he hit .287/.384/.479 with 11 home runs and 26 stolen bases in 349 at-bats at Triple-A. Dickerson earned a promotion to the Majors and hit .304 with six homers and five steals in 102 at-bats. If his power is for real, he has the potential to be an above-average defensive outfielder who can hit 15 homers and steal 30 bases in 500 at-bats.
The knock on Dickerson, though, is that the left-handed hitter cannot hit southpaws. In his last four minor-league seasons, he hit .223/.328/.319 against left-handed pitching, compared to .272/.364/.464 against right-handers. In 2008, though, he improved to hit .258 against southpaws, which could allow him to play regularly in the Majors if he can keep that up. If not, he could be a solid platoon player.
Dickerson, 26, could form an impressive left-field platoon with powerful Tampa Bay cast-off Jonny Gomes (currently a non-roster player having a good spring with four homers and 12 RBI). For Dickerson, spring training has had its ups and downs. He’s hitting .300 but he’s also struck out 21 times in 23 games and he’s been caught stealing five times in 11 chances.
There are still rough edges to Dickerson’s game, but he has the potential to add a little excitement to a young roster that includes second-year players Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, and Johnny Cueto. If he plays everyday, expect a healthy number of steals, some home runs, good defense and a ton of strikeouts.
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