DENVER -- Corey Dickerson is aware of the nicknames.
"Yeah, they call me Dicky," the Rockies rookie outfielder told me recently. "Ever since I was young my dad always told me I'd be called nicknames like Dick just because of my last name, but none of that stuff ever bothered me. It's gonna be my kids' nicknames -- I've just got to deal with it."
The 24-year-old Dickerson has provided the Rockies with some great production this year, especially considering some of the "production" they'd been receiving from the other bench players. After murdering the ball in his first taste of AAA (Dickerson's line in Colorado Springs this year is .371/.414/.632 with 46 extra base hits in 75 games), Dickerson is making his mark on the big league team. A lightly regarded prospect in the minors (being an eighth-round pick will do that), Dickerson did nothing but smack the ball at every minor league level (his minor league batting line is .321/.379/.601).
In 54 games with the Rockies, Dickerson has proved himself to be an above average bat -- his .289/.331/.493 line equates to a 111 OPS+ (11% better than league average) -- distinguishing him as a potential everyday player in the outfield going forward (though his MLB home/road splits are a little worrisome).
Here are some nuggets from the conversation Corey and I had recently:
On his ability to hit at every level
"I've always hit, even when I was in high school and Little League, I've always been moved up to the level above me. Something a lot of people don't know is that I tore my arm up in high school -- I used to throw really hard and that killed me, so I focused a lot on hitting, just being a complete hitter. Going to college really helped me expand my knowledge of the game, and I've just been able to carry it on to pro ball."
On falling to the 8th round
"We were in a small junior college back home (in Mississippi) and I didn't have a strong arm then -- I was still rehabbing it from when I tore it -- so that kind of had me off the map. I got talked to by the Phillies and other organizations in the earlier rounds but the Rockies took me and I'm glad to be where I am now."
On his favorite minor league stop
"I'd say Asheville and Tulsa -- the historic part of Asheville, Tulsa has a really nice park -- and I got called up (midseason) there, which was my first time to get called up (midseason) at any level, which was pretty awesome."
On the differences between AAA and MLB
"It's getting the nerves out. It's just a game; you're playing the same game. I think a lot of rookies struggle with that. Also, if you swing at bad pitches, (MLB pitchers) go back to it and they can command better. Really though, I'd say nerves is the biggest challenge ... the coaches told me in terms of hitting to approach the game the same way as I would at AAA - to be confident and play the game how it should be played."
On playing center field in MLB -- especially in Coors Field
"I was nervous at first -- I hadn't been in center field since junior college. When I got out there and caught the first ball there was a lot of relief and I felt comfortable out there after the first few innings."
On playing before MLB-sized crowds
"It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but once you get out there and get zeroed in, it's just a game and you're competing. You kind of forget about all the fans."
Thanks to Corey for his time!
The Rockies starting rotation got some national love over the last few days. Tracy Ringolsby wrote that Jorge De La Rosa deserves Cy Young consideration.
Grant Brisbee, writing in response to Ringolsby, gently rebuked this sentiment (basically, Clayton Kershaw) while simultaneously marveling at the great seasons that the Rockies starters are having.
Meanwhile, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times had even more nice things to say about Colorado's starting pitching. In another sub .500 season, it's nice to get some recognition for what is going right.
De La Rosa left yesterday's game after two innings with a sore thumb, which has been a persistent issue for De La Rosa this year. It hasn't stopped him from putting together his best year as a pro, but it has noticeably limited him in several starts this year.
Michael Cuddyer is fighting for the NL batting title and has clearly adjusted to the NL.
Patrick Saunders educates some frustrated (and probably a little misguided) fans in his weekly mailbag.