O’Koyea Dickson is Powering His Way to the Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been in the news as much as any baseball franchise over the past year-plus. Following a highly-publicized team sale and offseason spending spree, they have stumbled out of the gate and looked lost so far during the 2013 season sitting in last place in the National League West. While things look bleak at the big league level, there are reasons to be optimistic when considering their minor league system. Rising slugger O’Koyea Dickson is one of those bright spots, as he is starting to emerge as one of the team’s best prospects.
The 23-year-old Dickson is a powerfully built 5’11″ right-handed hitter, who has played primarily at first base during his professional career. He grew up in the Bay Area and got his start in the game from the First Base Foundation, which serves minority youth in that region.
Although Dickson came from modest amateur origins, he is proving himself to be a player to watch. He was a 12th-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2011 out of Sonoma State University in California. His stock rose considerably that year after a junior season that saw him hit .341 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI.
Many also remembered a home run Dickson hit as a high school sophomore in 2006 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. His team was playing in the stadium for a title game, and his shot completely left the park, which was believed to be only the second time a high school player achieved the feat at a major league stadium. Such raw power sticks by scouts, and even though he played for a small school, it helped carry him into the draft.
Since signing with the Dodgers, Dickson has done nothing but rake. He pounded the Pioneer League for a .333 batting average, 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 48 games in 2011. He belted another 17 home runs last year in Single-A.
This year, Dickson is playing for advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. In 56 games, he is hitting .276 with 17 doubles, eight home runs and 39 RBI. Such numbers could put him on the fast track for a promotion, which would have him on the cusp of the major leagues.
During this past offseason, Dickson took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions. It’s highly recommended that you take a look and get familiar with this rising prospect.
O’Koyea Dickson Interview:
What’s the best part about being a professional baseball player?: The best part of being a professional baseball player is just being able to live out your dream! I put on the uniform each day wanting a shot to play at the major league level. I have one goal in mind, and that’s to be an established major league baseball player.
As a high school sophomore you hit a home run out of San Francisco’s AT&T Park; what was that experience like?: Hitting a home run out of AT&T Park was kind of like my breakout game as a baseball player at a young age. I showed myself that I’m capable of hitting with power, and since that day I’ve taken baseball so much more seriously. When I was younger I was just playing the game to just play. Being a Giants fan it was really a special moment in my career.
What was your draft experience like?: Everything happened so fast during the draft process. A lot teams contacted me and leading up to the draft I really had no idea which team was going to draft me. No one really had me high on their list. I was chilling at my auntie’s house and the 12th round hit and I was getting anxious cause a lot of scouts said I would go in the 6th-10th rounds. As I heard my name being called the computer froze and I wasn’t sure which team selected me. My best friend called me and said, ‘Are you kidding me? The Dodgers?’ It was a crazy feeling getting selected by the Dodgers and being a Giants fan. But I love being a Dodger. Royal blue is my favorite color!
What have your thoughts been about the change in Dodgers ownership and having such a high profile group now leading the franchise?: I think the Dodgers are heading in the right direction. Having new ownership sets the bar a little higher for the players. I am looking forward to possibly being in the movement of upside here in the future.
What do you think you have improved on most since being signed?: The biggest thing I’ve improved on since I signed is how to carry myself as an professional player and preparing myself for each game. It’s grind playing 140 games.
Can you please talk a little bit about your work mentoring at-risk kids?: Back in high school I was President of a group called AIMS, where we worked with the children at their elementary schools. We went and talked with the kids every week, sharing with them our experiences we had when we were younger. We played basketball and baseball together. Just giving back to the kids and showing them our love and support and giving them someone to look up to. It was a really great experienced and I want to open up my own after school program once I make it to the big leagues.
What do you think about the declining number of African American youth playing baseball?: A lot of African Americans are athletic and they like to play football and basketball, but what they don’t understand is that all the money is in baseball. Basketball and football are more exciting sports to play and that’s what they love to play. As you know, if you don’t start playing baseball at a young age it’s tough to pick it up when you’re in high school. Hopefully one day kids will realize baseball is the best game you will ever play.
If you could have dinner with one baseball player, from the present or past, who would that be and why?: I would love to meet Willie Mays. I truly believe he’s the best player to ever put on a baseball uniform. I would love to pick his brain about everything he went through in his life. The things he did on the baseball field were unbelievable. He has so many baseball years under his belt. He played the game the right way, which was hard, and he played with so much energy.
Andrew Martin is the founder of “The Baseball Historian” blog where he posts his thoughts about baseball on a regular basis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach him on Twitter at@historianandrew.