If I had to select one player as the most underrated prospect in the Rockies’ system, it would probably be Corey Dickerson. Over the past several months, a variety of sites have ranked the Rockies’ prospects, but very few made mention of Dickerson. I don’t know about those other sites, but, when a kid makes his pro debut with a .350 batting average and a .635 slugging percentage, he catches my attention.
While he hasn’t received much notoriety on the national scene, Dickerson is well known by fans of the Pioneer League. Last summer, he became a league favorite as he bashed doubles, triples, and home runs all over the Pacific Northwest . In one game last July, he hit a 435-foot walk-off bomb to beat Billings. After the game, his jersey sold for $400 at a charity auction. Yet, Dickerson failed to make Baseball America’s list of top 20 players in the Pioneer League. The list did include four other Casper players — Will Swanner, Christhian Adames, Rafael Ortega, and Albert Campos — but I think Dickerson was actually the best player on the team.
Dickerson played two seasons for Mississippi’s Meridian Community College — the very wealthy Cliff Lee once played there. As a freshman, he impressively hit .381 with 15 homeruns. Then, as a sophomore, he hit a robust .459 with 21 homeruns, earning him JUCO All-American honors.
The Rockies first drafted Corey in the 29th round of the 2009 draft, but couldn’t reach an agreement with the outfielder. Last year, they upped the ante and selected him in the eighth round. In my spotlight on Will Swanner, I mentioned baseball’s money slot system and how the Rox have decided to disregard it. Because Corey was already committed to Mississippi State, the Rockies drafted him knowing they would have to pay him above his slot. They offered him $100,000 and he quickly changed his mind about attending MSU.
Last year, Dickerson played 69 games with Casper. He posted an absurd stat-line of .348/.412/.634. He smashed 13 homeruns, 22 doubles, and 9 triples. Oh yeah, he also stole 12 bases. Excitement over rookie ball numbers must be tempered, but Corey displayed signs of serious potential at the plate.
Dickerson is left-handed and has legitimate power. He is a back foot hitter with a quiet approach. He loads up, keeps his weight back, and moves his hands very little. His head always remains still. As a result, he makes excellent contact. I love guys that hit like that. They are less susceptible to off-speed pitches and generally more powerful. I’m not making a comparison here, but Pujols is a back foot hitter.
Dickerson will turn 22 in May. That’s a little bit older than most low-level minor leaguers, but he is still young. Because of their depth, the Rox have the luxury of patience with all of their outfield prospects. In all likelihood, Corey will be sent to Asheville to start the year, but there is an outside shot of him going to Modesto. The Tourist’s outfield has a chance to be special. The starting lineup will have Dickerson in left, Rafael Ortega in center, and Kyle Parker in right. You could argue that all three rank among the Rockies’ top ten prospects.
As with any minor leaguer, only time will reveal Dickerson’s true ability, but he is off to one hell of a start. I will now be taking donations from anyone that wants to aid a Rox Pile summer trip to Asheville.