Blake Dickerson performed well on the showcase circuit last year to improve his prospect status. The Virginia prep left-handed pitcher excelled at the Prospect Development Pipeline League, where he competed against premium high school hitters and received coaching from former MLB players.
Dickerson developed a relationship with pitching coach LaTroy Hawkins, who pitched for 21 years in the major leagues, at the PDP League. Hawkins has mentored Dickerson, and the two remain in contact regularly, Dickerson said.
Over the last year, Dickerson has developed into one of the top pitchers in the prep class. Scouts rave about Dickerson’s size and potential and project him as a likely early-round pick in July’s MLB draft.
“One thing that was kind of stressful at the beginning was all the hype of coming back after having a great summer and fall,” Dickerson said. “Everyone talked about how I was a draft prospect. It was kind of stressful trying to live up to that, but at the end of the day, and even some scouts have told me, you’re 18 years old and a senior, you want to enjoy that and not think about the draft.”
Dickerson is a 6-foot-7, 215-pound left who throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, slider and changeup from a three-quarters arm slot and repeatable delivery with some deception.
He primarily uses his four-seam fastball in comparison to his two-seamer. His four-seam fastball is a low-90s offering that he locates well on both sides of the plate. His two-seamer has arm-side run and sink.
Dickerson mainly uses his four-seam fastball and slider. His above-average slider has a sharp break and generates plenty of swings and misses. He occasionally mixes in his changeup, which has arm side run and flashes potential.
Scouts speak highly of Dickerson’s pitch mix, track record of throwing strikes, low-effort delivery and starter potential.
“I believe my biggest strength is my competitiveness,” Dickerson said. “I’ve shown that this high school season. Even though I haven’t done well, I have always competed and put our team in the best position. I don’t give up on something I do, and if something doesn’t go my way, I just brush it off and keep going for my team.”
While Dickerson is a quality pitcher already, he wants to incorporate his lower half more into his delivery. The mechanical tweak would allow him to be more consistent with his delivery and improve his fastball velocity.
“I’d like to see myself use more of my lower half,” Dickerson said. “That is something I struggle with, especially being a tall player and not the most athletic guy. Other than that, I think I’m pretty good with everything. I just need to use my entire body when I throw.”
Besides his status as a top draft prospect, Dickerson is a Virginia Tech commit. He strongly considered Virginia Tech, Virginia and James Madison before signing with Virginia Tech. The program is trending upwards, with a quality coaching staff and improving resources. Those factors stood out to Dickerson during the recruiting process.
“Virginia Tech was really good with keeping it like family,” Dickerson said. “Coach John (Szefc) being there only for four years now, he really switched over the team and is starting to get new facilities too. He’s completely flipping it over. Everything they have told me has come true so far, so you can’t beat that.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.