Dirks completed his third season in the Tigers organization in 2010 after being an eighth round pick out of Wichita State in 2008. Dirks saw limited action after being drafted, hitting over .400 in ten games in the Gulf Coast League, before a brief promotion to West Michigan. Dirks only managed three games in the Midwest League before going on the disabled list for the rest of the year with a right hand fracture.
Fully healthy in 2009, Dirks started the year with High-A Lakeland. He hit very well in 27 games, posting a .330 average while also walking 13 times against just eleven strikeouts.
The Tigers quickly promoted Dirks to Double-A for his first challenge against advanced competition. Despite being pushed aggressively, Dirks handled the challenge pretty well. In 98 games and 408 at-bats, he hit only .255, but he did manage 14 doubles, eleven steals and 36 walks.
After a challenging first full season, Dirks settled in for a return trip to Double-A in 2010, and he hit well in his second tour through the Eastern League. In another 98 games at the level, Dirks posted a .278/.342/.425 line backed by 11 home runs and 19 steals.
Dirks received a late season promotion to Toledo, where he saw action in 22 games. He finished his brief Triple-A trial with a massive .375/.398/.648 line that included a whopping 15 extra-base hits. Dirks continued his hot hitting Triple-A ways with a strong performance in the Dominican Winter League.
Despite the improvement in the numbers over the last two years, Dirks raw tools haven't taken a corresponding step forward. His biggest assets are his speed and defensive ability. Dirks is a 55 to 60 grade runner with good instincts on the bases and an aggressive approach in attempting to take the extra base.
In the outfield Dirks reads the ball pretty well off the bat and takes solid routes that enable him to play all three outfield positions in at least an average fashion. He has a solid-average arm with good accuracy.
Dirks' hit tool has held up better than some scouts projected it would coming out of college. He has maintained his ability to control the strike zone and recognize pitches, and that has allowed him to make contact and he profiles as a player capable of hitting about .275.
Dirks may not have great size, but he has a strong frame and works hard in the weight room. He drives the ball to the gap with some regularity, but overall has below-average power and would probably be stretched to approach a .400 slugging percentage in the big leagues.
Dirks is a grinder with an all-out style in every phase of the game. His style attracts his coach's attention, but he can turn some people off with his almost arrogant belief in his abilities. He has a classic fourth outfielder profile and there are only minor improvements left to make before his game is ready for the big leagues.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AA
The hand fracture that sidelined him at the end of the 2008 season has not been an issue since he returned to the field in 2009. His aggressive style of play can leave him prone to more minor injuries, but he is tough and plays through most small problems.
Dirks is a near lock for the Toledo outfield in 2011. Despite being just down the road from Detroit, he will be hard pressed to see action in the big leagues this year without hitting the cover off the ball or a massive string of injuries. Three other outfielders – Brennan Boesch, Clete Thomas, and Casper Wells – are already on the 40-man roster and ahead of him on the big league depth chart.
Dirks has enough ability to carve out a solid career as a fourth outfielder, but would be stretched in an everyday role. He will have to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2011 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and this will be a big year in his development to prove to the Tigers that he warrants a roster spot with all of the outfielders presently on 40-man.
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