Allan Dykstra's dad is fine. Allan talked to him a few days ago. His dad might even consider giving you an autograph, but try not to be too surprised when it reads "Randy."
"Most of the time, I just feel bad," the Mets prospect said before a road game in Reno. "I think some people are a little embarrassed and they don't want to ask me, so my teammates get asked a lot. It's a pretty expected question, especially now that I play with the Mets and I play with [Wally] Backman."
So for probably the millionth time, Allan Dykstra, emerging first baseman and designated hitter for the Vegas 51s, Triple-A Pacific Coast League All-Star and all-around good hitter, is in no way related to Lenny Dykstra.
But in case all that wasn't a tip-off, it's starting to look as though this Dykstra is having no trouble at all distinguishing himself on his own merits.
With Double-A Binghamton last year, Dykstra put together a slash line of .274/.436/.503 with 21 home runs and 82 RBIs, and he has only improved since moving across the country to play for Backman. As of Friday, he was at .283/.432/.517 with 12 homers and 56 RBIs.
"It really hasn't been too much of an adjustment" this year, he said. "And I think a lot of that has to do with playing winter ball in Venezuela . . . It helped solidify my confidence because I was playing with guys who were in the big leagues and in high-pressure situations."
He plans to go back next year, though his last winter ball season was cut short by a broken ankle. Experience like that is invaluable, Dykstra said, and the truth is, as a career minor-leaguer at 28, he'll have to take as many opportunities as he can get.
Dykstra, who went to Wake Forest, was picked by the Padres in the 23rd round of the 2008 draft. At 6-5, he's a formidable lefthanded power hitter. But when the Mets traded for him in 2011, he was showing only small signs of the player he would become.
A season earlier, he had hit .241 with 16 homers in high Class A ball. The season after that, in 2012, he broke his wrist.
These factors, coupled with the glut the Padres had at first base at that point and a big, similar player blocking his path in the Mets' organization (Lucas Duda), has meant that his chances to progress have been slim. He also has to contend with lefthanded first baseman Dominic Smith, drafted in the first round last year.
That thinking used to handicap him, he said, but with age comes maturity.
"I have a better mindset now," he said. "I'm approaching the minor-league experience in a more mature and adult manner. You don't realize that the life of a minor-leaguer can get out of hand in a hurry . . . and I think now I'm learning what exactly I can control and not worrying about the things I can't control. It's not easy not getting moved up, but it's nothing you can worry about."
That was one of the lessons he learned when he got traded, when Dykstra realized "you're not playing [to impress] one of the teams. You're playing for all of the teams."
Truth is, though, Dykstra wouldn't mind dancing with the one that brought him. In the Mets' organization, "I've been performing better and more consistently at whatever level I've been playing," he said. "I really hope for the chance to play in the big leagues with the Mets. They traded for me and they helped me to get to the point that I am right now."
If that happens, who knows? He might even get to wear No. 4, like his fa . . . never mind.
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