Raking At Wake

Nice win for Troy last night, coming back from a three-run deficit to tie the score in the eighth inning and then beating Alabama 7-5 on Edgar Ramirez’ go-ahead RBI single in the 12th. Meanwhile, Auburn also lost a game in 12 innings, falling to Lipscomb 4-3, but the Tigers got an encouraging debut from freshman Taylor Thompson, who struck out four and allowed just a pair of runs over 4.2 innings of work. He’ll end up being an important arm for Auburn this year. On to the mailbag:

What do you think of Wake Forest’s Allan Dykstra? I went to several Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) games to see John Drennen play a couple of years ago, but I was more impressed with Dykstra than I was with the more popular Drennen. I was anxious to see more of him, so I was disappointed to see him choose Wake Forest over Stanford and San Diego. Do you see his swing translating to professional success? How much of a hindrance is his defensive ability (or lack thereof)?

Dan Mattheis
Fairfield, Calif.

Dykstra was very impressive as a freshman first baseman for Wake Forest, hitting 15 home runs and posting a 1.149 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He proved his power is legit in the Cape Cod League, where he smacked seven home runs with wood bats for Chatham. Dykstra (no relation to former big leaguer Lenny) has above-average power from the left side, and although he does not have quite as much power as fellow lefthanded-hitting first baseman Matt Rizzotti of Manhattan (his Chatham teammate last summer), Dykstra earned higher marks than Rizzotti because of his ability to make adjustments at the plate. Dykstra is fairly polished for his age–he’s not just up there wailing and flailing (as evidenced by his 51-32 walk-strikeout ratio for the Demon Deacons last year). Dykstra does need to improve a few things, however; he struggled against lefthanded pitching last year, batting just .189, and he can be vulnerable inside when his swing gets long.

Still, Dykstra’s bat will carry him. He is limited to first base defensively, and though he provides a big target at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, his defensive skills are fringy. Keep an eye on his defensive progress this year; it could be an indicator of how receptive he is to instruction.

Dykstra and the Demon Deacons open their season at home against Kent State this weekend in what should be an interesting three-game series. The Golden Flashes are young but talented, and I can’t wait to see what freshman righthander Kyle Smith does in his debut.