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.
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.
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.
|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|
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.