Friday, June 29, 2012

Faith the key for Dodgers' slugging prospect O'Koyea Dickson

Faith is a big part of many professional athletes lives and success. Dodgers' prospect O'Koyea Dickson is no exception.

Dickson, 22, was drafted in the 12th round out of baseball powerhouse Sonoma State University near the San Francisco Bay Area. Seriously, Sonoma State has seen 40 players drafted since 1974 -- not bad for a Division II school. The "hitterish" prospect had a great debut with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League: .333/.402/.603 with 13 home runs, 38 RBI and 10 doubles in 48 games.

Though he isn't as physically imposing as one would expect a slugging first baseman to be (5'11, 215 pounds), he's more than held his own in his first two seasons.

This is the video from 49th State Hardball I embedded from the last time I wrote about Dickson.

His debut performance put him on the prospect map for many. This season, Dickson started off on fire despite not starting the season when everyone else.

He suffered a hand injury in Spring Training -- an injury that kept him out of action until May 4. But Dickson said the hand is doing well.

His performance this season with the Great Lakes Loons earned him a spot in the Midwest League All-Star Game. This is particularly impressive because he missed 30 games and had to absolutely rake to get the nod. He hit .331/.442/.564 with six home runs, 22 RBI, 13 doubles and a good 24:22 BB:K ratio before the All-Star break.

"It meant a lot making it to the Midwest League All-Star Game," Dickson said. "Didn't think I was gonna make it due to my number of at-bats, but I'm blessed I got a chance to be an All-Star."

Dickson showed spectators what he's made of in the All-Star game, going 2-for-3 with a home run, which earned him MVP honors.

"It was pretty sweet going yard at the game," Dickson said. "Just wasn't trying to do to much and I got a good pitch to hit."

Dickson has made the transition from Pioneer League pitching to Midwest League pitching, and that's a big transition to make. The environments in the Pioneer League are much most hitter-friendly, so the fact he's hitting well in the Midwest League is encouraging.

Dickson said he's noticed the difference in the pitching at both levels.

"I thought last year in the Pioneer League guys threw a little harder," Dickson said. "On a daily basis, and this year, guys still throw hard, but they tend to throw a lot more off-speed pitches in hitter's counts."

Like a lot of athletes, Dickson puts his faith in, well, faith.

He said God is a big part of his life.

"Faith is the biggest factor because even when you're struggling, you have to keep the faith because good things have yet to come," Dickson said. "No matter what, God controls everything."

In fact, he said one of his favorite things about playing baseball is tied to faith.

"My favorite thing about playing baseball is showing that if you put your trust in God and be faithful to him, he will bless you with whatever your heart desires," Dickson said. "I just want to show people with God by your side, anything is possible.

Dickson said he doesn't set specific goals for himself, but looks at what he needs to improve and lets God do his thing.

"I put a little more focus on a particular part of my game I need to work on," Dickson said. "So, like (runners in scoring position), I want to be able to drive them in more frequently. I kinda just go day-by-day and let God control the outcome of my day."

Dickson said he's a student of the game and considers that his biggest strength.

"I don't try to put any pressure on myself. I try to make baseball as simple as it needs to be," Dickson said. "See ball, hit ball.

But Dickson also acknowledges his shortcomings.

"I think my weakest part of my game is defense," Dickson said. "I'm not bad at first baseman, but I'm trying my best to get better everyday. (It's) just all about being comfortable and trusting in your abilities."

Dickson first caught people's attention in high school when he hit a ball out of AT&T Park. He said that was his most memorable moment as a high schooler. He also said hitting a home run in the Division II World Series in the ninth inning and two home runs in the Pioneer League playoffs last year were also memorable for him.

He's hit a bit of a cold since the All-Star Break (2-for-22), but he has the ability to turn it around. With a lot of potential moving parts in the levels above Low-A, he should see time in Rancho Cucamonga later this summer. Despite the cold streak, he doesn't have a whole lot left to prove in the Midwest League. He needs to be tested against advanced pitching (even if the California League is a hitter's haven).

These are the players manning first base ahead of Dickson:
Other than Sands and Van Slyke, not much to be impressed with. Dickson has even been splitting time at first base with the rehabbing Angelo Songco in Great Lakes.

But in the end, Dickson has one ultimate goal.

"(Getting) a chance to play in the big leagues," Dickson said.

If he plays as well in the upper levels of the minors as he has in his brief career in the lower levels, it's bound to happen.


  1. Good stuff. I like the reports that I've read on Dickson. What do you think his potential is numbers wise? 300 hitter? 20 bombs?

  2. Thank you.

    He could be around a .300 hitter with 20 home runs and some on-base ability. That's probably best-case scenario. His frame is smaller than a typical first baseman, but he generates good pop from his swing.

    Hard to overlook the fact the kid can hit. That's his biggest asset.