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O'Koyea Dickson Works To Be Playable In Field



Shawn Wooten knows what it’s like to be held back by defensive limitations.

Now a hitting coach in the Dodgers system, Wooten couldn’t make it out of Double-A as a third baseman during his playing days. It wasn’t until he learned to play catcher that his bat carried him to the major leagues for parts of six seasons.

He has told O’Koyea Dickson the lessons he learned.

“I told him,” said Wooten, who has worked with Dickson each of the past three seasons. “I had to learn to catch. I went back to Double-A and repeated a year. I also took it seriously. Every step of the way, I’d be running down to catch bullpens when no one else wanted to.

“You have to take it seriously, especially now with all the technology they have at every single level. They’re reading your jumps in the outfield. They’re looking at your turns (around first base on hits). They’re looking at these things . . . I’ve been in the meetings.”

Dickson, a 12th-round pick in 2011 from Sonoma State (Calif.), has always been a hitter in search of a position. He has primarily played left field this season with some work at first base and right field.

“I think he’s way more comfortable in left field,” Wooten said. “I think his routes have gotten better, his throwing is better. I think, at times, at first base things just kind of play quick on him . . . and when he’s out there stressing over it, that can carry over to hitting.”

The righthanded-batting Dickson hit .246/.329/.497 with 23 home runs through 106 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. His power remained constant, but his strikeout rate increased in his Pacific Coast League repeat season.

“I think that’s because teams have done a better job of getting him to chase and pitch around him a little bit,” Wooten said. “. . . They pitch around him more, and he will expand because he wants to put up numbers because he’s so close (to the majors).

“But overall his approach is awesome. He knows how to attack a pitcher’s weakness. He knows how to look for his pitch. He’s just a really good professional hitter.”

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

• The Dodgers moved No. 1 prospect Walker Buehler to the bullpen at the start of August. The move is designed to limit the righthander's innings in his first full season following 2015 Tommy John surgery. But it also an audition for a September callup for the Vanderbilt alum and 2015 first-rounder.

Brice Turang Brianwesterholtfourseam

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Bill Plunkett covers the Dodgers for the Orange County Register

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