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Quiet Dickerson on hitting tear

August 13, 2013
By Darian Somers (sports@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

Alex Dickerson will flat out say he is quiet.

"I've been like it my whole life," the Curve outfielder said. "I'm better now. I wouldn't have been able to do this interview in eighth grade."

His manager, Carlos Garcia, will say Dickerson probably wouldn't want a big newspaper feature written about him.

Article Photos

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Alex Dickerson has hit .342 since June 1.

"He is a guy who doesn't want the notoriety," Garcia said. "We know who he is. He just likes to go about his business, gets his work done, relax, play some video games on his cell phone.

"When it's time to play, he plays nine hard innings."

And what the numbers will say, Dickerson is one of the best hitters in all of Double-A since June 1. They will also say the quiet California native will most likely be promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis at some point, plus be named the Curve's season MVP.

Dickerson, who jumped out to a sluggish start in the first two months of the season, has become one of the leaders and bright spots - despite his humble attitude off the field - on a Curve team that has struggled all season.

Call from Washington

Ross Dickerson, Alex's dad, was a fighter pilot in the Navy. Alex said his household wasn't too strict, though it was still a military household.

But growing up in Poway, Calif., did have its advantages - such as warm weather year-round so Alex could play baseball constantly.

Dickerson's father was a big part of that obsession.

"He was always throwing me balls," Alex said. "He was a military guy. He knew what hard work meant. He was always there. Every weekend, we were always hitting on the field. He made me who I am today."

Alex will say that's where he gets his hard work and humble attitude.

"You never take a day for granted," Dickerson said. "He kind of started that with me. Definitely, I always worked at everything I did, and he was always on me with stuff like that. I think it does help me with stuff like that these days."

Ross is still alive, despite being ejected from a jet once, and while he was in the military, Alex kept playing baseball. He said he "never really took breaks from it."

When high school rolled around, Dickerson's baseball passion soon came through as the Washington Nationals selected him in the 48th round in 2008, offering him a contract.

He said no.

College Calling

One of the reasons why he was drafted so low was because most people already knew Dickerson's mind was made up - to play baseball at Indiana University.

He will say because it wasn't for baseball.

"I never based it off the baseball team," Dickerson said. "We ended up being pretty good. I wanted to go somewhere that felt like college."

Dickerson ended up being quite a bit better than pretty good.

In his first season he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the first-ever in Hoosier history.

In his next season, he won the Big Ten triple crown (.419, 24 homers, 75 RBIs). That earned him All-American honors, Big Ten Player of the Year and a finalist for college baseball's version of the Heisman.

"I had never been on my own, never even done my own laundry, stuff like that," Dickerson said. "It was good for me to go out and branch out more off the field than on the field. It just kind of helped me develop more as a person and a player."

The Pirates took notice, and in 2011 they drafted Dickerson in the third round. They also gave him a $387,00 signing bonus, according to Baseball America.

Wakeup Call

It took 18 minutes before Dickerson could be carted off of Richmond's field.

Dickerson said he never lost consciousness after colliding with Flying Squirrels first baseman Ricky Oropesa on May 19. When he left the local Richmond hospital, Dickerson was diagnosed with a concussion.

As time would go on, that hit at first base looked like a wakeup call because his batting average went nothing but up from that day.

Dickerson will say different.

"It's funny you can connect it to that," Dickerson said of the concussion. "At the same time, I was starting to pick it up. That kind of knocked me back."

Dickerson began the season batting just .185 in April, and up until May 17, two days before he suffered the concussion, he was hitting just .191.

On May 18, Dickerson crossed the .200 plateau for the first time since May 1, hitting .207.

Since shortly after the injury - which sidelined him for about a week - Dickerson has been the third-best hitter in all of Double-A. He has hit .342 since June 1, and only a steroid-banned Cesar Puello and Curve teammate Justin Howard have hit better.

"He's putting up the numbers that we knew he could," Curve hitting coach Ryan Long said. "He's a good hitter. He has always hit. Sometimes you go through adjustment periods at different levels."

Dickerson said he is big on "just making adjustments."

While it was a two-month adjustment, since May 19, Dickerson has blasted 12 homers, 50 RBIs and 35 extra-base hits. All of those numbers are in the top 10 of, not just the Eastern League, but also all of Double-A.

He earned the Eastern League Player of the Month in July and player of the week twice in that month.

It wasn't his first accolade and probably won't be his last this season.

At Single-A Bradenton last year, Dickerson jumped out to a sluggish start - although not as bad as 2013 - then ended being one of the top hitters in the Florida State League, winning the League's Player of the Year award.

As of Monday, his adjustments have made Dickerson tops on the Curve in doubles, RBIs and runs scored. He is also tied for homers with Jarek Cunningham.

"He went through that, made it through it fine," Long said of the early season struggles. "You saw what he is capable to do when he gets hot and puts it together. He can put up some numbers in a hurry."

Call him quiet

Dickerson says that what he does is nothing as serious compared to his father's occupation.

He also realizes he is a baseball legend for the Hoosiers.

The numbers will also say he's one of the best players in the minors.

And he will say he wants to be the best player on the field.

"When I get in between the lines, I want to be the best player on that field," he said. "That's not 'I actually believe, or I'm really cocky with it.' It's one of those things, when you get in the box, you've got to believe you are going to be successful."

 
 

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