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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Baseball alumni Dickerson and Sabourin meet in minors

Baseball vs. Michigan

Former Hoosier baseball stars Jerrud Sabourin and Alex Dickerson’s paths, as different as they are, intersected once again last week.

Unlike past years, however, this time the two were not teammates.

The series pitted Sabourin and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers against Dickerson and the State College Spikes. Both teams are part of the single-A New York-Penn league, one of many minor leagues aiming to develop young players with major league aspirations.

Sabourin, the all-time IU hit leader, was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians last month after going undrafted. Dickerson, the Big Ten player of the year in 2010, was rewarded for his impressive three-year college career by being drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sabourin joined the Indians-affiliate Scrappers last month and has been playing consistently at first base since. So far, though, the transition from Hoosier hit king to the minors hasn’t gone swimmingly.

Despite driving in a game-winning run in extra innings earlier this month, Sabourin is batting .178 average through 30 games. While Sabourin said his average isn’t as high as he’d like, he doesn’t sound overly concerned.

“It’s a day-by-day process,”Sabourin said. “The Indians always tell us it’s more about developing you as a player than instant results. I haven’t gotten off to a great start, but a lot of guys struggle at first.”

Dickerson, also filling in at first base, has fared better in his current, brief stint with the Pirates-affiliate Spikes. Dickerson has batted .353 through nine games, including four straight multi-hit outings.

Sabourin said the biggest adjustment at the minor league level is at the plate.
“Every pitcher throws a little harder, and we use a wooden [not aluminum] bat,” he said.

He also acknowledged the difficulty in adapting to the rigorous schedule, a sentiment echoed by IU coach Tracy Smith.

“The whole crux of the minors is to get guys used to the grind of everyday baseball — the mental wear and tear,” Smith said.

Smith said he places a great deal of importance on the “college experience.”

Dickerson and Sabourin agreed, saying their former coach helped them a lot.

“You develop a routine and certain habits to hone your game,” Sabourin said. “You learn as a person to deal with situations in the locker room and out on the field.”

“In retrospect, I developed a lot as a player and a person,” Dickerson said. “And I improved my draft stock by a lot.”

Having spent a combined seven seasons with the two, Smith knows Dickerson and Sabourin well and said they both have the chance to be successful.

“They are well-spoken and will handle themselves well,” Smith said. “They’re ready, more ready than they would have been as 18-year-olds.”

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