The Texas Rangers have acquired pitcher James Dykstra from the Chicago White Sox, for cash, apparently.
I wasn’t going to do a post about this, but the more I thought about it, the more random it seemed, to the point I decided I should do a post.
Dykstra is 26 years old. He spent a year at a place called Yavapai College, which I’ve never heard of, but which is apparently a JuCo in Arizona. I clicked on its page at B-R, prepared to mock the lack of baseball players it has produced, but to my surprise, they have some impressive alumni. Curt Schilling was drafted by the BoSox out of Yavapai. Former Ranger pitcher John Butcher was drafted by the Rangers out of Yavapai. Former Rangers Kyle Blanks and Billy Hatcher went there, as did such luminaries as Bobby Howry, Charlie Kerfeld, Ken Giles and Kole Calhoun.
So no making fun of Yavapai College.
Anyway...the Rockies drafted him in the 50th round out of Yavapai in 2010. He had been drafted by the BoSox out of high school the year before in the 40th round, so this was a 10 round demotion, of sorts. In any case, Dykstra didn’t sign, spent the next year at LSU, and then spent two years at a school called Cal State San Marcos. I hadn’t heard of it, and didn’t realize that there was a San Marcos other than the one south of Austin, with the school that people who partied so much they flunked out of UT attend.
But apparently there is another San Marcos, and it is in California, and unlike Yavapai College, it is not a secret hotbed of baseball talent. Dykstra was a 6th round pick of the ChiSox out of CSSM in 2013, and was just the third draft pick in MLB history from there. The other two players were picked #1063 and #1185 overall in their respective drafts.
Dykstra, like most 6th to 10th round draft picks in the last five years, was a guy targeted because he’d sign for well under slot money, allowing the drafting team to bank savings to use elsewhere for players they wanted to go over slot for. Dykstra got $30,000 as a senior sign.
Incidentally, his brother is Allan Dykstra, who was the Padres’ first round pick in 2008. Allan Dykstra was a first baseman who made it to the majors with the Rays briefly in 2015, before ending the 2015 season playing for the Sugar Land Skeeters. He appears to be out of baseball.
Neither Allan nor James are related to Lenny Dykstra, you will be sad to know.
Anyway...James Dykstra signed with the ChiSox, and has had, from what I can tell, a very pedestrian career. He had 5 innings in the Pioneer League in 2013, split 2014 between low-A and high-A, spent 2015 in high-A, and was at AA Birmingham for 2016. He has started some, relieved some, doesn’t miss many bats or walk many batters (283 Ks and 78 walks in 388.1 IP), and hasn’t really registered on any prospect lists. He did land on BA’s Prospect Hot Sheet in April, 2015, after throwing a 7 inning no hitter, but even BA called him a command pitcher with “an average fastball” and “nice changeup” but no plus pitch.
As a 25 year old last year, Dykstra put up a 4.93 ERA in 102 IP in AA, and appears to have all the hallmarks of an organizational depth guy.
And yet, for whatever reason, in the middle of December, the Rangers decided to trade for him.
This is just so very random. What prompted Texas to feel like this was a guy who was worth targeting and acquiring? He gets a lot of groundballs...do they think he can move to a full-time relief role and possibly make himself into a potential prospect as a groundball-inducing reliever? Do they think an arm slot change or something can unlock some ability we haven’t seen yet?
I have no clue. There’s plenty of minor league free agents out there, so even if you need bodies for your AA roster, its not like you don’t have your pick of those. For some reason, someone in the Rangers organization decided they wanted James Dykstra here.
So there you go.