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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU alumnus Alex Dickerson steps up to the plate

Baseball vs. Indiana State

Before former IU baseball standout and recent MLB draftee Alex Dickerson ever swung for the fences in a cream and crimson uniform, he was confronted with a decision that would determine his future both on and off the field.

He had just completed a highly successful high school career in southern California and was drafted in the 48th round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals.

He could enter the cutthroat world of professional baseball and navigate the uncertainty of the minors as just another middling prospect, or he could choose to delay his career and develop himself both as a slugger and a student at college.

He opted for the latter, committing to play for IU that fall.

Three years and numerous accolades later, his decision looks to have paid off. Dickerson was taken in the third round of last month’s draft by a resurgent Pirates organization.

IU baseball coach Tracy Smith said he believes Dickerson made the right choice.   
“Alex wanted the college experience,” Smith said. “I think it was such a valuable experience for him. It’s so beneficial to go through college and then experience the minors as a young adult.”

Dickerson — whose career stats as a Hoosier include a .386 average, 47 home runs and 181 RBI throughout three seasons — will look to carry the momentum gained in Bloomington to the next level.

But for now, Dickerson is just enjoying his introduction to the minors as a member of the Pirates’ single-A affiliate, the State College Spikes.

“Everything is very exciting to this point, just to finally be on the field is a thrill,” Dickerson said. “There is a different, more professional type of atmosphere here.”

In order to facilitate their development, minor league players practice long hours, even on game days.

It’s this single-minded approach that separates life in the minors from college, Dickerson said.

“The focus of everything is just baseball,” he said. “You have a lot less time to yourself and have to put a lot of extra work in. On days when we have a 7 o’clock game, we have to be at the ballpark by 1:30 to start practice.”

Dickerson is also grappling with another adjustment. Having played left field during college, he is being asked to fill in at first base for the Spikes.

Through nine games, Dickerson has committed two errors, both of which occurred during a July 19 game against Mahoning Valley.

Coincidentally, one of Dickerson’s former IU teammates, Jerrud Sabourin, plays first base for the Ohio-based rival.

“The transition [from left field to first base] is something new, but he just needs a little leg work,” Sabourin said. “He’s been a great hitter his whole life. He’s going to be good.

“I know the Pirates have high hopes for him, and they should. They’re lucky to have him.”

At the plate, Dickerson is already proving his worth. Through 60 at-bats thus far, he is batting a .283 average and has racked up six doubles, a triple and a home run.
The key to success, Dickerson said, is keeping things simple.

“My average will be wherever it ends up,” he said. “I’m just trying to get a hit every time up.”

As for long-term goals, he isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“The whole point of playing is to make the big leagues, I guess,” Dickerson said. “But I just strive to get better every day and see where I end up.”

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