There are only 47 days left until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
It’s about this time when the season starts feeling near. Hot stove talk has been fun this off-season, and it will continue to be, with plenty of deals left to be made before opening day.
It’s exciting to explore the various options that a club may have in filling out roster holes, but at this point I’d like to discuss a player who has been working to establish himself with the San Diego Padres for a little bit of time now. This is a player who has seen some early success in a few stints at the major league level, but is now looking to turn himself into a full-timer.
Alex Dickerson is one of five outfielders who are vying for four spots on the Padres’ opening day roster. After a short, 11-game stint with the Padres in 2015, Dickerson started the 2016 season in Triple-A. On May 6, 2016 he was recalled back to the Padres where he stayed for the remainder of the season. With the Padres in 2016 he slashed .257/.333./.455 with 10 home runs and five stolen bases in 285 plate appearances. His work in the outfield drew a .972 fielding percentage. He is stronger offensively than defensively, but he should be able to hang around the league average as a fielder, and maybe even improve beyond that with more time and experience.
Currently, it looks like Dickerson has a good shot at making one of the four outfield roster spots. He proved himself to be a solid bat last season with a promising power stroke. His left-handedness makes him a platoon option as well as a useful bat off the bench late in games against fellow southpaws. He even showed off some skill on the base path by swiping five bags last season.
Dickerson has only clocked time in left field with the Padres. With Hunter Renfroe pretty much a lock in right field, and Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski both above average center fielders, left field is where Dickerson will stay. If Margot stays with the Padres at the start of the season, it’s likely that Jankowski will be shifted over to left and form a platoon with Dickerson as was done at the end of 2016. If Margot gets sent back down to triple-A to protect service time, Jankowski will start in center and Dickerson will likely start in left.
Another factor to consider is that Dickerson could conceivably play backup to Wil Myers at first base. Dickerson has experience playing first up to the Triple-A level. Once again, being left-handed makes Dickerson a platoon option (on rare occasion) with Myers at first. Brett Wallace pretty much held this type of role for the last few seasons and he did recently re-sign to a MiLB contract with the Padres, but in my estimation, Dickerson has a much higher ceiling and adds a greater value to the team. Dickerson is more indispensable than Wallace because he can also play a solid left field.
The Padres should continue to invest in Dickerson and provide him with the opportunity to prove himself. So far he has shown that he can contribute and he provides a versatility that maximizes his spot on the roster. I view him as one of the pieces that should be part of a victorious Padres’ future. I say, let him continue to earn his keep.