Name: Allan Dykstra
DOB: May 21, 1987
Medical concerns pushed Dykstra's signing until the August 15 deadline, but the Padres were able to come to an agreement in the final hour.
He was immediately assigned to High-A Lake Elsinore where he hit .292 in seven games with a homer and 10 RBIs. His lone bomb – coming in his fifth game – was a grand slam and capped a five-RBI game.
The slugger also added seven walks compared to seven strikeouts for a .469 on-base percentage.
The San Diego native hit .323 with 16 homers and 50 RBI for Wake Forest in '08. He led the team in hitting, RBI, runs scored, homers, slugging and on-base percentage, reaching base safely in all but four games.
"He has PETCO Park power," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "Dykstra has total control of the strike zone and he attacks the ball. We're getting an advanced strength guy. And he could come quicker than most."
A Padres season ticket holder growing up, Dykstra idolized Tony Gwynn – but the two vary in one major offensive tool – power.
Taken 23rd overall, Dykstra has as much raw power as anyone in the system. He can muscle balls out of the park, and when he connects, the ball will travel out of any park and any part of the field.
"He's a big guy, a guy with big size," Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano said. "He kind of goes around the ball and dives a little bit on his swing. Played one game at first. He could have played more but we mainly DH'd him."
He also combines power with a patient approach and believes in the Padres mantra of patiently aggressive hitting. Dykstra rarely swings at pitches outside of the zone. He works hard
on pitch recognition from the dugout and at-bat – the studious approach giving him an advantage when he comes to the dish.
Dykstra has had times where he is too patient, allowing a good pitch to skirt by untouched. Knowing that he might only get one pitch in a given at-bat that can be driven, he is working on being ready to hit every pitch.
The book on Dykstra has been to work him inside. He has a huge frame and is working on his separation and stride to get the bat head inside the ball in an effort to negate the inside pitches he sees. His goal is to more consistently pull it down the line.
He has a slight uppercut in his swing, which cuts down on his ability to keep his bat head in the zone for a prolonged period of time but is a driving force behind his power. His wrists are quick and the bat head is in good position to swing towards the ball, allowing him to let pitches travel deep before letting his trigger go.
"He's a strong kid with an unbelievable eye at the plate," said Bill Gayton, the Padres' director of scouting.
Dykstra, a towering presence, stands over the plate and will end up being hit by quite a few pitches. If a pitcher misses when they throw inside, it is likely to plunk the left-handed hitter. He was tagged by one pitch in his seven-game California League tour.
"He's got a good eye, he lets the ball travel," Lezcano said. "Once he learns to stay inside the ball a little bit more, get a little quickness on his bat instead of going around and diving on it a little bit, he should be alright, he should put up some numbers."
Solid makeup and a willingness to sacrifice himself for the team are attributes that personify Dykstra. He would switch positions if asked and will do whatever is necessary to become a better overall player.
Defensively, Dykstra needs to improve his footwork. He has taken grounders at third base in an effort to improve his movement laterally and find balance with his feet. He won't ever be graceful but has proven he will put in the time to get better by using whatever methods are available to him. He also provides a solid target for his fielders and is currently better corralling the high throw then picking them out of the dirt.
Dykstra has played third base before and played the outfield a few years back. The Padres, however, are focused on keeping him at first base.
The first baseman is a station-to-station runner that won't be a factor on the base paths.
"Dykstra has an unbelievable eye at the plate," Fuson said. "Great raw power. Very strong individual."
Conclusion: Dykstra's power and patience are the tools that will make or break him. He is capable of annually putting up 30-plus bombs while drawing plenty of walks. If he gains separation and figures out the inside pitches, Dykstra will meet the lofty expectations.
At a position where Adrian Gonzalez and Kyle Blanks reside, Dykstra will have his work cut out for him. Hitters, however, find ways into lineups so his focus must reside there. If the bat shows life, Dykstra will move quickly and be on the doorstep in two years.
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