The Excitement of Jarrod Dyson

On September 7, Jarrod Dyson made his major league debut, entering in the ninth inning, walking in his only plate appearance, and scoring a run.  On September 13, he got his first career start, leading off and playing centerfield and also collected his first major league hit, a double.

Then over the weekend he went from interesting September callup to the early favorite for starting centerfielder.

Wait, what?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit much.  Or is it?

Dyson’s one of those players in the Royals system who’s been overlooked, but that’s not really anything new.  A 50th round draft pick in 2006, Dyson was one of those players who probably wasn’t expected to do much of anything as a professional player.  To his credit, he’s come pretty far in just a few years, and that’s even after a high ankle sprain hindered him until midseason in 2010.

And now after two three-hit days, he’s being anointed as the centerfielder of the future.

By the way, small sample size aside, I think I’m all for it.

Date Tm Opp Rslt Inngs PA R H 2B RBI BB SO SB BA OBP SLG OPS
Sep 7 KCR MIN L,3-10 9-GF 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.000
Sep 8 KCR MIN L,3-4 9-GF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1.000
Sep 12 KCR CHW L,6-12 7-GF 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500
Sep 13 KCR OAK L,1-3 CG 4 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 .200 .333 .400 .733
Sep 15 KCR OAK W,6-3 CG 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .222 .300 .333 .633
Sep 18 KCR CLE L,4-6 CG 5 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 .357 .400 .500 .900
Sep 20 KCR DET L,5-7 9-GF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .357 .400 .500 .900
Sep 21 KCR DET W,9-6 CG 6 3 3 2 1 1 0 1 .444 .500 .667 1.167
KCR 21 6 8 4 1 2 2 4 .444 .500 .667 1.167
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/22/2010.

Dyson’s calling card is speed. He may be among the five fastest players in professional baseball, an asset that the adage tells us can’t be taught. When combined with the ability to get on base, it can be a powerful weapon for an offense. Then there’s the advantage it gives an outfielder and their potential range. With the right instincts and abilities, a fast player can be just as valuable as the slugger in the cleanup spot.

Is Dyson that guy? I don’t know, but I’m willing to give him the chance to find out.

Yr Tm Lev PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 Royals Rk 189 40 44 4 6 0 19 19 4 18 30 .273 .358 .373 .731
2007 Burlington A 39 6 10 1 0 0 0 3 1 2 12 .270 .308 .297 .605
2008 Wilmington A+ 331 40 75 8 0 0 24 39 9 32 60 .260 .337 .288 .626
2009 2 Teams 358 52 87 9 5 0 19 46 10 32 68 .276 .345 .337 .681
2009 Burlington A 75 14 23 2 1 0 5 9 4 5 14 .343 .397 .403 .800
2009 Northwest Arkansas AA 283 38 64 7 4 0 14 37 6 27 54 .258 .331 .319 .649
2010 4 Teams 328 50 88 17 4 1 40 24 8 22 46 .299 .347 .395 .741
2010 Royals Rk 25 4 13 1 1 0 6 3 1 0 3 .520 .520 .640 1.160
2010 Wilmington A+ 52 7 16 6 2 0 9 5 1 1 9 .327 .327 .531 .858
2010 Northwest Arkansas AA 32 6 6 0 0 0 6 3 3 5 2 .240 .375 .240 .615
2010 Omaha AAA 219 33 53 10 1 1 19 13 3 16 32 .272 .327 .349 .676
5 Seasons 1245 188 304 39 15 1 102 131 32 106 216 .278 .344 .343 .688
A (2 seasons) 114 20 33 3 1 0 5 12 5 7 26 .317 .366 .365 .731
AA (2 seasons) 315 44 70 7 4 0 20 40 9 32 56 .256 .336 .311 .647
Rk (2 seasons) 214 44 57 5 7 0 25 22 5 18 33 .306 .377 .409 .786
A+ (2 seasons) 383 47 91 14 2 0 33 44 10 33 69 .270 .336 .323 .659
AAA (1 season) 219 33 53 10 1 1 19 13 3 16 32 .272 .327 .349 .676
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/22/2010.

Looking over Dyson’s minor league stats, his one career homerun demonstrates an obvious lack of power.  At 5’9″ 160 lbs, Dyson doesn’t look that distinguishable from a high school sophomore, but on the field, he’s been dynamic in a very brief major league career and solid (as a speed type) throughout his minor league stops, too.

Dyson walks at an average rate, and makes good contact, both of which are important to a leadoff man.  He’ll have to get the ball in play and try to reach on his speed, as he’s not going to have a lot of pop.  In the minors, he was successful on stolen base attempts about 80% of the time, and has been successful four out of five times with Kansas City, so an early conclusion is that he has picked up a few clues on how to steal a base, so a lot of walks and singles can be considered doubles once he’s stolen the base.

For a team like the Royals who, for years, have been a station to station team, someone like Dyson with that kind of speed could be a good piece in the puzzle, especially with Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue up behind him to drive in a runner on second.

And as you may have noticed against Cleveland, his speed gives him great range in centerfield to track down flyballs.  His catch of a deep Shelley Duncan fly ball wasn’t exactly all-time highlight reel material, but it was a long trip for him in center to get there.

He’s drawn good reviews from Drew Osborne at RoyalsProspects.com as well, who has a nice scouting report on Dyson’s game from Tuesday, when he went 3-6, walked, stole a base, and scored three times.  Osborne’s impressions are that Dyson could be a patient hitter with a good idea of what he wants to do in the box, and who will give a lot of effort, as well, as evidenced by his stretching a bloop hit into a double.  Dyson was instrumental in creating a run after two outs by singling, stealing a base, advancing to third on a passed ball and scoring on a single.

Gregor Blanco has been pretty subpar since coming over from Atlanta.  He’s walked a good amount and stolen some bases, but he doesn’t look any more like the fourth outfielder he’s always been so far in his big league career.  It’s a small sample size, but so far, Dyson’s making a case to make the team in 2011, and not just that, to start.

Dayton Moore hasn’t been secretive about his desire for a leadoff type with speed.  He traded J.P. Howell for Joey Gathright.  He traded Ramon Ramirez for Coco Crisp.  He signed Scott Podsednik.  And even Blanco (almost) fits that bill of a speedy leadoff type.

To this point, none of them have panned out.

Dyson’s got a shot to change that.

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Topics: AL Central, Baseball, Coco Crisp, Dayton Moore, Gregor Blanco, Jarrod Dyson, Kansas City Royals, KC, MLB, Royals, Scott Podsednik

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