After a torrid April Alex Dickerson was promoted to the San Diego Padres Monday night, where he will provide left-handed depth off the bench and an option at both first base and left field. His bat is a strong enough tool that it's made him a prospect since his freshman year at Indiana University.
Here's a bit of his history as a prospect through the eyes of our MadFriars and Scout.com coverage.
The 25-year-old, who grew up in Poway, was an All Big-10 player his sophomore year, posting a stellar .419/.479/.805 line. That earned him an invite to the Cape Cod League and a spot with Team USA. Then Scout.com draft writer Frankie Piliere filed this report on him heading into the 2011 draft.
While Piliere was bullish that a club would bet on the bat early, Dickerson wound up sliding to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round. He started his career with a solid 886 OPS in the short-season New York-Penn League, and entered spring training in 2012 as a prospect with significant buzz in the Pirates system.
George Von Benko at Pirates Dugout spoke with the then-21-year old a few weeks into his first full season stint in the High-A Florida State League about Dickerson's adjustment to the professional game and how his first taste of work at first base was going as he shifted from the corner outfield.
Despite a slow start and some difficulty turning his raw power into a usable game skill, Dickerson's first professional campaign ended with him winning FSL Player of the Year honors.
Dickerson opened the 2013 season in Double-A Altoona, but had some early-season back issues and then sustained a concussion in a collision. By the time Von Benko caught up with him again at mid-season though, Dickerson was on a roll at the plate, and had been shifted back into the corner outfield.
The Padres traded Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas for Dickerson the following November, finding value in the bat and in the fact that Dickerson was still well short of requiring a spot on the 40-man roster while being ready for Triple-A. While he was excited to come home, Dickerson's system debut was waylaid when a fluke sprained ankle in spring training led to an MRI that showed a structural issue in his heel which required surgery.
While Dickerson was shelved for most of the 2014 season, he still made it into the notebook piece John Conniff filed from his first trip to El Paso, and was back on the field for San Antonio by late July to regain his timing.
Dickerson came into spring training last year ready to go, and talked with John Conniff about what it took to come back from the injury and some of the mental side of development in the minors. He proceeded to go out and put up a solid, and incredibly consistent campaign for El Paso, which included a three-day stint with the big league club in August and then a return to the roster in September.
His strong showing earned him MadFriars Player of the Year recognition for El Paso, and a call-out as the top prospect on the team from John Conniff. He appeared on each of our individual Top 30 lists, ranging from a high of number eight for Conniff to number 20 for Jay. He ultimately landed at 12th overall on our MadFriars Top 20 list for 2016.
We talked to him one more time in Peoria this spring about the work he's put in to make his defense work in the outfield and how he sees himself contributing in the Majors.
As with all prospects, the journey has been a circuitous one for Dickerson, but ultimately, his future depends on his ability to translate the power that stood out on the Cape six years ago into a repeatable skill at the highest level, and to provide adequate defense in the corners.