Corey Dickerson is having one of the best seasons in the low Class A South Atlantic League, and he ranks among the minor league home run leaders. And this weekend, Dickerson put on one of the best power performances of the season with his second three home run game of the season.
Dickerson's three home run game on Saturday gave the Rockies outfielder 30 homers for the season and helped Asheville to a 21-11 win over Lexington. He's slugging .633 this season, pretty impressive for a 2010 eighth-round pick.
But there is a pretty big asterisk, unfortunately for Dickerson. Dickerson plays in Asheville, one of the best home run parks in the SAL. And if you look at Dickerson's stats, it does appear that he's being helped by his home park.
At home, Dickerson is hitting .353/.415/.826 with 20 doubles, three triples and 24 home runs. Those 24 home runs would be tied for the SAL lead by themselves. But when he hits the road, Dickerson's power has disappeared. He's hitting .205/.291/.385 in road games with only six home runs and 15 total extra-base hits.
It's possible that Dickerson's home-road split isn't an indication that his numbers will deflate once he leaves Asheville, but there is a troubling similarity to his numbers and another former Asheville star. Back in 2005, Joe Koshansky hit 36 home runs for Asheville, and like Dickerson, his numbers showed a dramatic home/road split. Koshansky hit .355/.432/.763 with 25 home runs at Asheville, and .227/.311/.440 with 11 home runs on the road.
Koshansky did end up making it to the big leagues for 35 games in 2007 and 2008, but the now 29-year-old Koshansky has settled in as a Triple-A slugger, not a big league regular.
SURVIVING THE GRIND: For many players, the first full pro season is more a survival test than a test of skills. Playing 130-plus games is a new experience for recent high school players more used to a 30-50 game regular season and a summer on the showcase circuit. But for low Class A Lansing's Jake Marisnick, the long road trips and one to two days off a month have not been a problem.
Marisnick was 7-for-13 with three doubles, a home run and a stolen base this weekend. The 20-year-old center fielder has been a picture of consistency this season, hitting .323/.396/.500. He hit .319/.388/.493 during the first half of the season and is hitting .327/.403/.507 in the second half. He'll likely head to high Class A Dunedin next season, where he'll get to endure the grind again, this time in the humidity of a Florida summer. But he'll do it as one of the Blue Jays' top prospects. In a very deep system, Marisnick's well-rounded ability (he projects as a plus runner, plus fielder and an average hitter with plus power) still stands out.
ANOTHER NO-HITTER: Shairon Martis made it to the majors as a 22-year-old back in 2008, but his emergence as a prospect began in 2006 when he threw a no-hitter for the Netherlands during the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
But Martis flamed out in the big leagues, struggling to a 5.33 ERA in 20 big-league starts before being shipped back to the minors in 2009. He hasn't made it back to the big leagues since, but he did pop back up on the radar screen this weekend when he threw a seven-inning no-hitter for Double-A Harrisburg against New Hampshire.
As Adam Kilgore explains in the Washington Post, Martis has rededicated himself to his craft this year. He's eating better and he's tweaked his arm angle. He's now 8-5, 2.81 for Harrisburg. As a 24-year-old, Martis is still young enough to get second and third chances. Martis will be competing with plenty of competitors thanks to the emergence of Brad Peacock and Tom Millone (and the return to health of future Nats' ace Stephen Strasburg), but he now has another chance at the big leagues.
TWO TYLERS: Back in 2009, there was a pretty healthy debate as to whether Tyler Skaggs or Tyler Matzek was the top high school pitching prospect in California.
The consensus at the time was that the harder-throwing Matzek was the better prospect, but there were scouts who preferred Skaggs' better delivery and his better feel for pitching. In the end Matzek went ninth overall to the Rockies while Skaggs had to wait til the supplemental first round where the Angels took him with the 40th pick. Since then Skaggs was dealt last year from the Angels to the Diamondbacks in the Dan Haren trade.
Two years later, Skaggs has clearly moved ahead of Matzek. The polished lefty uses a dominating changeup, a solid 89-91 mph fastball and a good curveball to carve up hitters from high Class A Visalia (where he started the season) to Double-A Mobile. On Sunday Skaggs struck out 12 and walked no one as he allowed one unearned run and three hits in seven innings.
But after a pro career that has been pretty much one disaster after another, Matzek is finally starting to show signs of life as well. Matzek was demoted back to low Class A Asheville after a bad start at high Class A Modesto, then he was sent back to California (subscriber-only link) to work with his youth pitching coach to try to return to his high school delivery.
Matzek finally put it all together for seven innings this weekend. He held Hagerstown to one run, two hits and two walks while striking out 13 in seven innings. Matzek is now 3-1, 2.65 in August and even with a seven-walk outing three starts ago, he's shown significant improvement in his command.
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