The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The Chattanooga Lookouts have not lost a game in August.
Riding a 10-game winning streak, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate has outscored its opponents 53-24. The driving force has been the middle of the Lookouts’ batting order, composed the team’s home run leader, outfielder Scott Schebler, and of a group of slugging infielders.
Anchoring the infield at first base is former College of San Mateo slugger O’Koyea Dickson. In his fourth season of professional baseball, Dickson is establishing himself as a legitimate prospect. He is batting .267 with 16 home runs, and currently ranks third in the Southern League with 67 RBIs.
A 12th round draft pick out of Sonoma State in 2011, Dickson has notched double-digits in home runs in each pro season, including an impressive 13 bombs in 138 at bats at Rookie-class Ogden, Utah in ’11. With three weeks remaining in the regular season — and the Lookouts making a postseason push in the North Division — Dickson is on track to eclipse his career high of 17 homers, which he amassed at Low-A Great Lakes in 2012.
Current Lookouts manager Razor Shines was also Dickson’s skipper at Great Lakes, and the two also worked together later that offseason at Shines’ Austin, Texas home. In that time, Shines has watched Dickson blossom into a legit middle-of-the-order run producer.
“He’s a better player now,” Shines said. “He’s growing into a prospect — a pretty good prospect. He’s the kind of guy who has bloomed late and the kind of kid you have to keep your eye on.”
On the heels of playing in the Southern League All-Star Game, Dickson hit safely through every game in the fourth week of July, tabbing a .464 clip (13 for 28) with two home runs and nine RBIs, earning Southern League Player of the Week honors for the week of July 21-27.
“I was definitely thankful for the honor, but that was something that I don’t really worry about,” Dickson said. “Obviously, I’m thankful. But at the same time, I just continue to keep getting better every day.”
Dickson has gotten better, improving his batting average 20 points since the All-Star break. A consummate grinder at the plate, he has been dubbed a hard worker by Shines, who credits Dickson’s work ethic as the secret to his success.
“When you work hard … and you are a talented kid, those things start to show and eventually it comes out,” Shines said. “Not everybody can be on a prospect list. But if you’re not on a prospect list and you’re the type of player like O’Koyea … you never know what can happen.”
Dickson’s defense is also a hot topic in Chattanooga. A one-time collegiate third baseman, Dickson hit .332 in his career at CSM from 2009 and ’10 before transferring to Sonoma State. Since going pro, he has served mostly as a first baseman, where he has played almost exclusively this season. However, there is an inclination to get Dickson some reps in the outfield to increase his stock going forward.
Right-handed pop is Dickson’s most serious tool, however. And in this respect, the slugging San Francisco native has developed into a legitimate bat in the Southern League ranks.
“I’m really pleased with his development on the offensive side,” Shines said. “Now, he still has to grow a little bit defensively. He’s gotten better and better as the season has gone along. But, we’re really proud of the development of O’Koyea Dickson.”