Position: 3B Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 Born: 7/23/80 Bats: Left Throws: Right
The Angels drafted Dallas McPherson in the second round in 2001 after he hit .347 with 11 homers and 22 doubles for The Citadel. He dominated the Pioneer League in his first shot at pro ball, hitting .395 with a .605 slugging percentage for Provo after signing. In '02, he continued to show good power for Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League, though he struggled at times with contact. The better hitting environment in the California League helped boost his numbers in '03, but he maintained strong production after a late promotion to Double-A Arkansas. McPherson enters 2004 as one of the best third base prospects in the game.
McPherson is a specimen of strength with a muscular build. Refinements to his swing have turned this into positive performance on the field. His swing has an uppercut, generating plus power, but it also leaves him vulnerable to breaking balls and changeups at times. He's made major strides correcting that, however, and should be able to maintain decent batting averages. He'll always strike out a lot, but he has good patience at the plate, and will draw his share of walks. McPherson has a very strong arm (he pitched at times in college), and sufficient range for third base. He has worked hard to refine his defense at the hot corner. Although some people believe he'll be better off at an outfield corner or first base, McPherson has improved enough defensively to remain at third base should the Angels wish to keep him there. Although he doesn't have great running speed, he has good instincts and can steal a base if necessary. McPherson is mentally tough and has a strong work ethic. He gained notoriety by homering off Randy Johnson during a Big Unit rehab start in the California League. Johnson plunked McPherson on his next at-bat; Dallas retaliated by stealing second base.
There is little to criticize in McPherson's statistical record. He hits for power and average, draws walks, and steals bases at a good percentage. His strikeout rate is a bit high, but since he also draws walks, it isn't a critical negative. We need to see what he can do against advanced pitching, but his performance in the last month of '03 in Double-A was certainly strong. He should be ready for action against major league pitching later this year.
McPherson missed the early weeks of the '03 season with a bulging disc in his lower back, but rehabbed successfully and was healthy the rest of the year.
What to expect
With Troy Glaus holding down third base, the Angels have no immediate slot for McPherson, and are likely to send him to Triple-A to begin 2004. He will be one of the big bats in the Pacific Coast League, and could put up spectacular numbers in the thin air. McPherson's bat will be ready this year, but how he fits into Anaheim's plans remains to be seen. If the Angels hold onto Glaus, McPherson will have to move to the outfield or first base.
John Sickels is the author of The Baseball Prospect Book 2004, which can be ordered through his Web site, Johnsickels.com. His other book, Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation, is also out, and can be ordered through on-line book outlets or your local bookstore. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife Jeri, son Nicholas, and feline friends Toonces and Spot.