- Full name Christopher Charles Dickerson
- Born 04/10/1982 in Hollywood, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 230 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Nevada-Reno
- Debut 08/12/2008
Drafted in the 16th round (471st overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2003.
View Draft ReportThe 6-foot-4, 220-pound Dickerson is one of the bigger mysteries in the West. He has excellent tools--he's big and strong, an accomplished center fielder with arm strength, and an above-average runner--but hasn't hit since his freshman year. He hit a soft .242 with four homers this spring and was an easy target in the bottom third of Nevada's lineup. He hit .132 in the Cape Cod League last summer. Dickerson, whose Major League Scouting Bureau number of 56 (on a 20-80 scale) is the best in the state, was hurt last fall when he broke a rib diving for a ball. He lost instruction time and was slow getting out of the gate this spring. He has struggled to get his swing going again after hitting .317 with 11 homers as a freshman. Dickerson is projectable and should be a better pro than college player, but his poor performance over the last year will hurt him.
Organization Prospect Rankings
For years, the scouting report on Dickerson was the same. He was the organization's best athlete, but no one was sure whether he ever would turn his impressive tools into production because he would mix hot weeks with monthlong slumps. But in 2008 he showed an improved ability to recognize sliders, his nemesis in previous years, which paid off in his most productive season and an outstanding major league debut that ended early because of a stress fracture in his heel. Dickerson still struck out once every 3.2 at-bats last year, but that was an improvement over 2007. He did a better job of recognizing which pitches to lay off, got himself into more fastball counts and better tapped into his impressive raw power. A cousin of NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, he's an outstanding center fielder, with the speed to run down balls in the gaps and an average arm. He could steal 25-30 bases a year if he gets 500 at-bats. But that might never happen because he struggles to hit lefties. Last year 16 of his 17 homers and 44 of his 53 extra-base hits came against righthanders. His other goal for 2009 is to stay healthy. The stress fracture is the latest in a litany of injuries that includes elbow problems (2004) and a sore shoulder (2006). Some scouts question whether Dickerson can sustain the progress he made last year, but his strong debut should at least give him a shot to be a platoon center fielder.
The Reds have been extremely patient with Dickerson, largely because it's easy to dream about the system's best athlete. A cousin of NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and former college teammate of Kevin Kouzmanoff at Nevada, Dickerson has the best combination of strength and speed among Cincinnati farmhands, though his baseball skills never have caught up to his raw tools. When he puts the ball in play, he has outstanding raw power. When he gets on base, he can take advantage with his plus speed and his ability to read pitchers and get good jumps. He also plays an outstanding center field and his average arm allows him to play all three outfield slots. But Dickerson doesn't put the ball in play very often. He struck out once every 2.7 at-bats in Triple-A and has whiffed once every 3.2 at-bats in pro ball. At times he shows a short, quick swing, but too often he gets pull-happy and lengthens his stroke in an attempt to hit home runs. Dickerson's defense, speed and ability to hit righthanders eventually should earn him a spot on a big league roster as a backup outfielder, but even after five years in the system he still has a long way to go to develop into a big league regular.
Whether you want to focus on the positives or the negatives, Chris Dickerson provides plenty to mull over. If you're looking for negatives, Dickerson doesn't hit for average, strikes out too much and has made little progress in improving those drawbacks over his four-year pro career. He doesn't recognize pitches well and is overaggressive at times with a uppercut swing that gets too long. He can't handle lefthanders, who have limited him to a .204 average with 89 strikeouts in 245 at-bats the last two seasons. But on the plus side, Dickerson is the best athlete in the system, and he managed to play the entire season despite a nagging injury in his non-throwing shoulder. He plays an exceptional center field. He reads the ball off the bat well and his plus speed (4.0-4.1 seconds from the left side of the plate to first base) allows him to track down balls to the gaps and over his head. He has an accurate, average throwing arm and he's a threat to steal on the basepaths. And he did show progress at the plate--he hit .273 with a .515 slugging percentage over the final three months of the season, and slugged .487 overall against righthanders--which was enough to convince the Reds to add him to their 40-man roster. If Chris Denorfia and Norris Hooper end up in Cincinnati, Dickerson will play center field in Triple-A this year.
Dickerson has had one of the highest ceilings in the Reds system since signing in 2003, but the Reds are still waiting for him to turn that potential into production. Dickerson showed signs of putting it all together during the first half of last season. He won the MVP award at the high Class A Florida State League all-star game, and he reached double digits in both homers and steals by the end of June. But his early power surge actually may have hurt his development, as he got pull-happy and stopped going with pitches. Dickerson hit just .212 with one homer over the final two months. He needs to get a better feel for the strike zone and pitch recognition, as pitchers got him to chase pitches out of the zone. While he scuffled in the second half of the season, there still are reasons for hope. Dickerson is the best athlete and the best defensive outfielder in the system, and he has basestealing ability. He has range in all directions in center field, as well as an average arm. Dickerson's struggles leave the Reds with an interesting decision. With B.J. Szymanski ready for high Class A and Jay Bruce slated for low Class A, Dickerson would fit best in Double-A but has yet to show he can handle advanced pitching.
Until B.J. Szymanski's arrival, Dickerson was the best athlete in the system. He has just started scratching the surface of his considerable potential as a power-speed players. So far as a pro, only the speed has shown up. Dickerson has taken to the organization's emphasis on patience and was effective as a leadoff man in low Class A. He's an above-average runner with good range in center field. In fact, with his combination of speed, route-running and an average, accurate arm, the Reds rate Dickerson as a 70 defender in center on the 20-80 scouting scale. Aggressive in the outfield, he hurt his left elbow diving for a fly ball last year. The injury was one reason that Dickerson has yet to translate his raw power into homers. The other reason, scouts say, is that he cuts himself off in his swing and settles for a little man's approach instead of taking advantage of his natural strength with a healthier cut. Dickerson will return to high Class A, where he finished last season, to begin 2005.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Athlete in the Cincinnati Reds in 2008
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Cincinnati Reds in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Cincinnati Reds in 2007
- Rated Best Athlete in the Cincinnati Reds in 2007
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Cincinnati Reds in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Cincinnati Reds in 2006
- Rated Best Athlete in the Cincinnati Reds in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Cincinnati Reds in 2005