This season I’ll be bringing you Q&As with rising stars and interesting players from the other teams in the Eastern League. This edition features Alex Dickerson, the 3rd round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2011 draft and #11 rated prospect in their system.
After years of futility, talk about the direction the Pirates organization is headed in and what it’s like to be a part of it.
Alex Dickerson: It’s a talented team. It’s a talented minor league organization. We’re competitive and right on the cusp and you see where it goes from there. You just work your hardest every day and see where you fit into that.
The last two seasons in State College and Bradenton you’ve played first base and this year you’re back in the outfield. Are the Pirates trying to give you some positional flexibility or is this their plan moving forward?
AD: I have no clue what the plan is honestly. For me, I have always felt more comfortable in the outfield. I played their my whole life. The last two years were my first two at first base so it is nice to be back out there. I’m trying to get my feet back under me out there and it’s getting there. I don’t know what the plan is for me in the future but it is nice to show that I can do both.
Growing up you had the unique perspective of a former major leaguer, Tom Brunansky, as a coach throughout your Little League career. Did you realize how lucky you were or was he just another dad coaching his son?
AD: You knew it was special but you didn’t realize how lucky you had it growing up. He was just one of many. In Poway, California where I’m from, my first little league coach was Reggie Waller who was up pretty high with the Astros and then I had Tom Brunansky for my middle school years, and then my high school team had all of the coaches that got to at least Triple-A with two of them their dads played in the big leagues. I didn’t realize until I got to Indiana how much knowledge I had been given when you look at what some other guys had grown up with. Like they had no clue on certain things you thought were basic, but were actually very complicated and only top players could tell you. Growing up I was extremely fortunate as far as coaches went.
What made a kid from the San Diego area choose Indiana University?
AD: I wasn’t recruited very highly and I wasn’t a guy growing up who was always thinking about every school I wanted to go to. When that situation came and I started getting recruited, I got calls from a lot of schools that I didn’t get followed up on. I didn’t really get many offers, but Indiana came through. I went on a visit. I just felt comfortable there right off the bat and I just decided I wanted to go out to the midwest and be on my own for a little while. I think it was the best thing for me.
While in Bloomington, you were a prolific hitter winning the Big Ten triple crown your sophomore season and you tied the school record with 47 career home runs. What did head coach Tracy Smith mean to your development?
AD: He meant a lot. Just as far as being off the field and becoming more of a man since you’re on your own and you have to rely on your teammates. We did a good job. We had talented kids out there. I got to play every day from my first day of my freshman year. Toughening up mentally, physically. He just gave me the opportunity for three years to play with that team and it was a great time.
Last April you struggled at Bradenton before turning it around and winning the Florida State League Player of the Year. Does that kind of turnaround give you confidence moving forward that you can overcome almost anything on the ballfield?
AD: It definitely does. Right now my numbers won’t shoot out at you, they don’t look particularly good. But it still looks and feels 100 times better to me than it did last year. I know what the lowest of low feels like now and I know I can overcome it and still make something out of it. So right now, I’m not even remotely worried. I feel good in the box. It’s just a better atmosphere overall being able to have that kind of adversity to start a season and finish where I ended up. It’s going to be a lot easier for the rest of my career.
I give you control of the DVD player on the bus. What movies are you sticking in for a long trip to Portland?
AD: With a bus trip you never know, you don’t want your movie to go up there and get shot down by five people on the trip. I actually have a DVD case where I keep a lot of “dumb” movies that are still entertaining. Recently it’s been “21 Jump Street”, it’s one that can make anybody laugh and it’s semi-intelligent. I’m definitely not putting one up there that I think could get bashed and hurt my feelings. I had that happen in college and I learned.
Thanks so much to Alex for taking the time out of his busy schedule and I wish him all the best and continued success on his baseball journey. Also, big thanks to Mike Passanisi, Altoona’s Director of Communications, for arranging the interview.