Since drafting Rashun Dixon out of a Mississippi high school in the 10th round of the 2008 draft and signing him away from a football scholarship to Mississippi State, the Oakland A's organization has known it would take some time to develop the raw, athletic youngster.
For the most part, the A's have taken baby steps with the 21-year old outfielder, moving him up a level in the three seasons that followed the 2008 draft. However, Dixon didn't show enough this year in spring training and was returned to High-A Stockton to begin 2012.
That slide continued through the season's first month, as Dixon posted splits of .206/.278/.343 over 30 games as he and the Ports suffered through a long losing streak. Oakland decided it was time for a change of scenery, pushing Dixon back to the Midwest League for the first time since 2010.
It was a shocking move for Dixon at the time, but he has dealt with it as best as he can. After taking a week off from baseball to gather his thoughts, Dixon reported to Burlington in late-May.
"At first I didn't know why I was coming down," said Dixon, who posted a slash line of .243/.317/.379 in 125 games at Stockton in 2011.
"I didn't expect them to give me a reason. Most of the time when guys get sent up or down, you don't really get a reason. They just tell you and you go. I didn't ask and they didn't tell, so we kept it at that.
"I tried not to take it personal, whine about it and be down. I made sure I came here to do my work, do whatever they wanted me to do and hopefully get out of here soon."
But he still regrets not being able to stick around and help Stockton rebound from the disastrous losing streak.
"I felt like I should have been there, because I was there during the losing streak so I felt like I had some things to prove," he said. "We lost so many games, so I wanted to be there to win a few games with those guys."
Dixon's numbers have gotten a slight bump since his return to Low-A ball, but are still likely not at the level that will get him a return trip to Stockton.
He's getting on base (.385 OBP) and has posted an OPS of 849, but his batting average resides at .230. Those numbers also fall short for Dixon, who has high expectations for his Burlington stint.
"First and foremost, my goal is to dominate this league," he said.
"I've been here already, so I don't think I should be down here blending in with the rest of this league. I feel like I should be able to dominate this league and get out of here pretty soon. Whatever they have on the plate next for me, I'm up to the task."
One thing Dixon does have on his side is age. At 21, Dixon isn't necessarily old for the Midwest League. Of the 12 other position players on the Bees' roster, Dixon is younger than all but two.
But he also realizes that there is a sense of urgency to get back on track and progress through the system.
"I'm here to make sure I get better," he said.
"I'm not really too worried about the numbers. They probably are, but I don't know for sure. I just need to do the same thing I was doing in High-A and make sure I improve. I need to keep doing my job every day, get my work in, show up early, hit early, extra defense, those sorts of things."
Another directive was issued to Dixon by his manager Aaron Nieckula, who coached him in Kane County during the 2010 season. With his team hovering around the .500 mark the entire season, and having lost outfielders Dusty Robinson and Chad Oberacker to promotions, Nieckula presented a challenge to Dixon upon his arrival.
"He mentioned that he would like me to be a leader, because I've played in this league and was here two years ago," Dixon said.
"I wouldn't say there are a lot of younger guys on this team, but as far as minor league experience, a lot of guys haven't been here as long as I have. They would like me to show them how you do things by working hard every day."