Dyson could go from speedy sub to starting outfielder

Jarrod Dyson

MARCH 2016 – The Kansas City Royals selected Luke Hochevar first overall in the 2006 draft and gave him a $3.5 million signing bonus. After 1,474 players names were called in that same draft, the Royals picked Jarrod Dyson to begin the 50th and final round. Dyson, who played two years at Southwest Mississippi Junior College, received a $5,000 bonus plus a good luck, pat on the back.

The odds of 50-round draft picks ever appearing in a big league game are infinitesimal. Since the draft’s 1965 inception only seven 50 round picks have made it to the majors, most only briefly. The other six are Marvin Benard, Brian Bowles, Anthony Chavez, Efren Navarro, Tom Robson and Edwards Guzman. There may not be any additions to that list with the MLB draft trimmed to 40 rounds beginning in 2012.

“Dreams do come true,” Dyson said.

Dyson has been a spare outfielder the past four years with the Royals, never appearing in more than 120 games in a season, many of those as a pinch runner. His 292 at-bats in 2012 were a season high.

This spring training the Royals are looking at Dyson as a starter or possibly platooning with the right-handed hitting Paulo Orlando.

“I’m ready,” Dyson said of the opportunity to be an everyday player.

Dyson’s offseason included having a street named after him in McComb, Mississippi, hometown.

“There’s no speed limit,” he said on Dyson Drive. “No speed limit on me, why (is) there going to be one on my road.”

Dyson’s speed was his lone plus-plus tool to a ticket to the majors, where he was swiped 146 bases. He stole 26 last season and added three more in the postseason. He stole 30 or more bases each season from 2012-14.

“If I’m playing every day, you can have me for more than 50 stolen bases,” Dyson said. “I’m 20 shy of 50 not playing every day. If I’m playing every day, I’d hope it would be 60 to 70 range.”

Dyson knows it takes more than just speed to be a good base stealer.

“He’s got that one skill you just can’t buy and that’s speed,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You’ve got to want to steal bases. You’ve got to want to be a thief. And he’s got that too. He’s completely fearless. Through the years, the hard work he’s put in with Rusty (Kuntz, base running coach), he puts in the time.”

Dyson stole a base in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series and scored the go-ahead run against the New York Mets on a Christian Colon single.

Dyson said McComb offered him a parade “with me solo” after the Royals won their first World Series in 30 years. He said he rejected that “because I’m a shy kid” and laughed.

Shy and Dyson do not belong in the same sentence.

He is one of the most outgoing Royals, his non-stop chatter and laughter can be heard throughout the clubhouse.

Instead, Dyson served as the Grand Marshall for the McComb Christmas parade.

“Me and Santa threw a lot of candy out,” Dyson said. “I enjoyed that, seeing the kids get their candy, enjoying the moment. The World Series does change your life. A lot more people get to see you more on the big stage. A lot more people reach out to congratulate you. A lot of people want to do things with you, so absolutely it changes your life.”

But it is back to work to defend that Royal crown.

“We’re back at it again,” Dyson said. “It’s a good thing when we see each other — a lot of hugs, handshakes, high fives, lot of laughs and just reminiscing about the offseason, what everybody went through, just having a one-on-one talk with everyone is just a good feeling because we treat everybody like family.”

Despite appearing in 19 postseason games the past two years, Dyson knows stadium announcers around the league will mispronounce his first name, which is juh-ROD.

“They can call me mrzoombiya (his twitter account handle) for all I care,” Dyson said. “As long as I’m in the box, I don’t care what they say.”

Whether Dyson will get many at-bats against left-handed pitchers remains to be seen. He hit .256 in 164 at-bats last year against right-handers and .222 in 36 at-bats against left-handers. He has a .266 career average with a .329 on-base percentage and a .367 slugging percentage in 853 at-bats against right-handers, which includes 28 doubles, 20 triples and six home runs. His career numbers against left-handers are .211 batting average, .288 on-base percentage and a .249 slugging percentage in 213 at-bats. He has only seven extra-base hits off left-handers – six doubles and one triple.

“He’s improved a lot,” Yost said. “You see him getting better and better defensively. He’s starting to understand what his style of game is offensively. He’s grown into a real nice major league player.”

Dyson, also, witnessed Yost growing as a manager.

“His first time over here, it was kind of difficult for both sides,” Dyson said. “He’s got his rules and we acted the way we wanted to act. It might not be the way he wanted us to act. There was a little adjust period. We had to adjust to him, just as well as he had to adjust to us. It worked out fine. Ned is a great manager. He lets you be and holds you accountable for everything you do. Things don’t get out of hand and we show him a lot of respect. Ned did a lot with us, letting us be. You always want a manager like that.”

Article by Alan Eskew, Editor

To read more articles on the Royals, visit: http://kcsportspaper.com/category/pro-teams/royals/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *