Last week the news finally went official that Royal outfield prospect Joe Dickerson has decided to retire from baseball, rather than deal with a lengthy rehab program. Word of Dickerson's decision had been out for a month, though both the Royals and Dickerson may have wanted to wait before making a definitive statement.
A fourth round draft pick in 2005 (112th overall) Dickerson did not generate much attention until 2008, when he began to hit in Wilmington at the age of 21, posting a .297/.376/.442 line in a tough hitters park and league. Like basically every Royal OF prospect at this point, Dickerson possessed a speed-based game, though many liked his hitting abilities better than some of the other options like Duarte, Dyson or Robinson. The Royals may have felt the same way, promoting him to AA NWA this season.
Heading into this season, Dickerson was rated by Baseball America as the #24 prospect in the Royals system, though some other observers had him higher. Sickels had Dickerson as the #14 Royal prospect, and the Royal Tower had him at 19. Voters here, rated him the #14 prospect in the system. He may not have had star upside, but he was one of the higher rated position player prospects for 2009.
Dickerson's decision to retire rather than rehab is perhaps not a huge loss for the Royal system, but it is emblematic of what's become a lost campaign for the organization with regards to position player development. Improving or rising hitters outside of David Lough have been harder to find than Eric Hosmer's new pair of glasses.