The 2013 Mets Minor League season was one to remember, especially for Allan Dykstra, who was the organization’s Sterling Minor League Co-Player of the Year and the Eastern League Most Valuable Player.
I recently sat down with Dykstra and we spoke about where his journey began and how the 2014 season brings hope that he will finally reach his ultimate goal of playing in the major leagues.
Dykstra, 26, a native of San Diego, California, learned about the game of baseball at an early age, “When I was younger, my father and grandmother were big baseball fans, and even though no one in my family played the game, they always followed the Dodgers,” he says.
When he started to play the game, he was a shortstop up until his freshman year in high school when an injury caused him to change positions, “I had a hip injury that required surgery and it changed what I could do, so in my sophomore year, I gave up hitting and just started pitching. I was highly rated as a pitcher.”
He eventually switched to first base and in 2005 he was signed by the Boston Redsox in the 34th round of the June Amateur Draft, but chose to attend college instead, “I had a scholarship to attend Wake Forest, and because I was school orientated, I committed to the University and was very happy with my decision,” says Dykstra.
At Wake Forest University, he was the ACC Rookie of the Year as a freshman and all ACC every year in college. In 2008, the San Diego Padres signed him in the 1st round of the June Amateur Draft.
Dykstra tells me what it felt like to get the call on draft day, “I was still at Wake Forest with my roommates, and it was really exciting.” He continues, “It’s something that is hard to explain, because you wait your whole life for it. My entire junior year was mixed with anticipation about what was going to happen. I had people telling me when they thought I would get drafted, and it became very stressful.”
The first base prospect would like to take what he learned through the whole draft process and give other players an opportunity to be better prepared, “I have talked to my agent and a couple of other people about getting into that type of business. I just want to help the young kids that experience this sort of situation, because you don’t really understand what they go through, until you do it yourself.”
After signing with the Padres, they initially promoted him to Lake Elsinore Storm (A+) to start his pro career, “I was at home and the Padres wanted me to start with the Storm just to get in the swing of things and get some game experience. It was my first time in pro ball and it really opened my eyes to joining a team with others that may have been drafted in different rounds, but it didn’t matter because I became one of the guys,” says the 6’5″ first baseman.
With Lake Elsinore, he batted .292/.469/.458 with a home run and 10 RBI’s in 24 at bats, “I felt comfortable, and felt like I did well, but I was hoping the next season, I would stay in Class A+.
But in 2009, after his first spring training with the Padres, he was sent to Fort Wayne (A) where he batted .226/.397/.375, with 11 home runs, 60 RBI’s and 104 walks in 537 plate appearances.
“I was flustered, and wasn’t expecting to be sent down and my mind just wasn’t right. I was just worried about where I was going and the status of it all.”
He finished the last month strong and in 2010, Dykstra was promoted back to Class A+ and in 113 games he batted .241/.372/.438, with 16 home runs and 70 RBI’s in 386 at bats.
In 2011, the Padres traded Dykstra to the Mets for pitching prospect Eddie Kunz, and so his new journey began. “I was told that they were trading me, and it was a new opportunity with a fresh start and with the Padres I was just getting lost in the shuffle. I understood and couldn’t blame them, because it was a business decision.”
“In my time with the Padres organization, Sandy Alderson was there back then and he knew me and had confidence in me. That move really turned it around for me,” says Dykstra as he leans back in his chair and smiles.
The Mets sent him to Binghamton (AA) and in 121 games he batted, .267/.389/.474, with 19 home runs and 77 RBI’s in 390 at bats. “Double A is probably the most talented level and to have success there, really brought my confidence back. It made me realize that I was good enough to play there.”
In 2012, he started with the B-Mets, but an injury caused him to miss some time, “I fractured my [left] wrist when I reached for a ball that was thrown into the runner.”
Upon his return, the first baseman was sent to St Lucie (A+) and then back to Binghamton and combined he batted .261/.420/.410 with seven home runs and 27 RBI in 222 at bats.
In 2013, he remained with the B-Mets and had the best season of his career. He batted .274/.436/.503, with 21 home runs and 82 RBI’s in 372 at bats and earned his MVP award. “I was very happy that I won, but also very thankful for my teams performance throughout the year.”
“My success in Binghamton, was also attributed to my hitting coach Luis Natera who helped me with hitting and my confidence. We had some long talks about my game and just life itself. He was like my father figure in baseball and he really helped me to become a better ball player.”
When the regular season was complete, Dykstra received an invitation to play winter baseball in Venezuela, and in 13 games, he batted .395/.489/.526. “When I first arrived there, they had guys that played in the big leagues and other guys that were there before, so I focused on getting my work done and when I got the opportunity to play, I really took advantage of it, and earned my way into the everyday lineup.”
During a game in winter ball, one play would detour his journey for some time, “After sliding into the bag, I fractured my fibular and was sent back to NY to have surgery.”
He continues, “It was a bummer when I got hurt again, but if it was a couple of years ago, it really would have bothered me. However, I had a great experience in Venezuela and I showed that the 2013 season was not a fluke. I was very confident in my game, especially since I played against real good competition.”
After missing out on participating in big league camp so he could rehab his leg, the Mets decided to promote Dykstra and send him to start the 2014 season with Las Vegas 51’s (AAA).
He now continues his journey to Vegas, where not only will he be closer to home, but also he is that much closer to making his major league debut. He understands how the game can become a business but he also understands that he is the only one in control of his future and what he does on the field determines where he ends up.
Every Mets fan is aware of the teams first base situation but if Dykstra picks up where he left off and puts up big numbers again, anything is possible for this left-handed power hitter. He has a will and desire to be successful, which truly pushes him and after all that he has been through in his baseball life, nothing can be sweeter than to finally make his debut this summer.
(Photo Credit: Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com and Lavinotinto.com)