Troy Dixon has molded into a valuable bat for St. John’s

Sports/Athletic Communications

Sports/Athletic Communications

Brandon Mauk, Digital Sports Manager Emeritus

St. John’s continues to have one of the best offenses in the northeast, and they owe it to the program’s ability to smoothly transition players into new roles as they get more experience. The Red Storm lost five different starting position players from last year’s Big East title, yet they remain strong because more players have emerged as serious offensive threats.

With the loss of Tyler Sanchez (drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 17th round), St. John’s had to fill a hole at catcher, and have easily done so with junior Troy Dixon. Dixon has turned into the player the team expected him to be.

“I was always anxious and ready to catch everyday. Sanchez was a good catcher last year,” Dixon said. “I’ve been working, I’ve been making my improvements, and I feel good.”

Since his first game in a St. John’s uniform, New Jersey-native Dixon has been a force offensively. In his freshman year, he started 33 of the 40 games he played, mostly at designated hitter. His power had yet to be developed, but he was a threat to get on base, hitting .284 with a .409 on-base percentage in 109 at-bats.

Although he only hit .254 with a .324 OBP his sophomore, he showed flashes of being a more complete hitter, as he belted his first two career home runs and was still a regular contributor on last year’s Big East championship and NCAA Tournament team.

“I think it’s all mindset. It’s not wanting to hit the home run every time.” Dixon said.

Now entrenched as the team’s full-time starting catcher as a junior, Dixon has emerged as one of St. John’s best players, batting .294/.376/.412 with 30 RBI, second on the team. Now with the opportunity to bat in the middle of the order, he has as many extra-base hits as the previous two seasons.

Dixon had a big weekend in the opening conference series against Georgetown, going 5-for-12 with five RBI. He went 4-for-4 in Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader, as the Johnnies took two of three from their rivals from D.C. The junior hit an RBI double in the 2nd and a tack-on RBI single to cap a 5-run rally in the 7th to force a split Friday.

“I work everyday in the cage with [freshman RHP] Matt Messinger,” Dixon said. “I try to get better every day; I’m never satisfied, but I’m happy where I’m at.”

Behind the plate, Dixon has some work left to do, but has clearly made progress. He’s allowed 33 stolen bases but has thrown out 10 runners. He’s also committed just one error in 234 chances and allowed just four passed balls.

Dixon is one of St. John’s most important players, in more ways than one. Having a guy who can hit and handle a pitching staff is a boon to any ballclub, much less a team in need of stability on their staff. He has been more than able to meet the challenge from his team.

His biggest challenge now is having to handle St. John’s inexperienced but talented pitching staff. The pitching staff as a whole has struggled, but is slowly finding their niche.

Last season, the Red Storm relied on two capable starting pitchers in Ryan McCormick and Cody Stashak. Both were drafted in the later rounds of the MLB Draft, but this year it has not been a strength, and Dixon has had to work as much as he can to stabilize it.

“We have a lot of young guys. Last year we had veteran guys who went in and did their job, and now this year I’m here to control them and make sure everything goes swimmingly,” Dixon said. “We learn from them and learn the mindset of St. John’s pitching and we just take it all in.”