VIERA, Fla. - The first thing you notice about Cutter Dykstra is his name. Not his first name - although it’s likely he’s coming to the Nationals in the first Cutter-for-Nyjer trade in baseball history. It’s his last name that gives the minor league infielder some notoriety before he arrives in Washington’s organization.
The 21-year-old Dykstra is the son of former Phillies All-Star Lenny Dykstra, who helped Philadelphia to the 1993 World Series but has gained more attention lately because of his financial missteps after he retired. He was running several private companies after his career and had started a company called Player’s Club designed to offer financial advice to athletes. But after Lenny Dykstra bought hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s home for $17.5 million, his finances went into a tailspin. He eventually lost the house to foreclosure and declared bankruptcy.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a good story last May detailing the Dykstra family’s financial woes and their impact on Cutter Dykstra.
As a baseball player, the 5-foot-11 Dykstra has offered more in the way of raw potential than actual production in his career so far. He was drafted as an outfielder, but moved to the infield in 2009 after struggling defensively. Things finally clicked for him at the plate last year, when he hit .312/.416/.411 and stole 27 bases for Single-A Wisconsin, but as a 21-year-old playing in low A ball, it’s hard to get too excited about his progress so far.
Still, if he’s figured things out, he could be a late-blooming prospect for the Nationals. They have used numerous high-round draft picks to improve their organizational depth up the middle in the last two years, taking second baseman Jeffrey Kobernus in the second round in 2009 and drafting two shortstops (Rick Hague and Jason Martinson) in the first five rounds last year. They obviously have two young middle infielders in the majors in Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, and they like Stephen Lombardozzi, who could go to Triple-A Syracuse this year after playing in the Arizona Fall League last year.
The Nationals are trying to get better in the middle infield, though, and Dykstra could add to their depth there.