MINNEAPOLIS- Brian Dozier has made quite a name for himself in the major leagues since being called up to the highest level of baseball by the Minnesota Twins in 2012. The Southern Miss alum has earned numerous accolades as both a hitter and second baseman in the years since his debut, earning an All-Star berth in 2015 and a Rawlings AL Gold Glove Award during his 2017 campaign.
Still, with trade rumors making the headlines in the final year of his contract with the Twins, Dozier looks back with appreciation on the time he spent with the Golden Eagles, while also keeping an eye on the future.
In his four years at Southern Miss from 2006-2009, Dozier collected 307 hits and 185 runs in 224 games. During that span, Dozier posted a plus-.300 batting average in each season. His performance at Southern Miss led to the Twins selecting him with the 252ndselection in the eighth round of the 2009 MLB Draft, just before the first and only College World Series appearance for the Golden Eagles.
After the Twins’ 11-8 win against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 13, Dozier talked about how he continues to keep up with Southern Miss baseball and how he gets to know current Southern Miss players by working out in Hattiesburg in the offseason.
“Coach [Scott] Berry and I are very close, and you know we kind of see him almost pretty much every day in the offseason, so he keeps me updated,” Dozier said. “It’s also cool for me because that’s [Hattiesburg] where I work out in the offseason, that’s where I hit, take my ground balls, lift weights [and] all that kind of stuff, so I get to know all of the guys pretty well, it’s always good to keep up with them, see how they’re doing.”
Dozier also had praise to give for former Southern Miss ace Nick Sandlin, who was drafted 67thoverall by the Cleveland Indians in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft in June.
“He had a heck of a career [at Southern Miss],” Dozier said. “When you’ve got a guy that goes that high in the draft but also throws from a different angle and can get people out, he’ll probably be on the fast track [to the MLB].”
One thing Dozier has improved on during his time with the Twins is his home run output. Dozier hit only 16 home runs while at Southern Miss, but in seven seasons with the Twins, he has managed to hit 166 of them out of the park, something that he attributes to changing his batting stance in the minors.
This home run hitting power has also caught the notice of other teams, as Dozier’s name has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors leading up to the MLB trade deadline on July 31. Despite all of the buzz surrounding the deadline and hearing his name mentioned in numerous trade scenarios, Dozier keeps a positive outlook when discussing the possibility.
“I’ve played this game long enough at this level that each and every year you hear your names floated out, all that kind of stuff, but that means somebody wants you,” Dozier said. “I know it’s a cliché to say, you take one game at a time, but it really is.”
With all of the trade rumors swirling around him, Dozier expressed fondness for the culture surrounding the Twins organization and the state of Minnesota.
“I do love it here,” Dozier said. “It’s been home for me for the past seven years at this level. The fans are amazing, [and] we play in one of the most beautiful ballparks in all of baseball.”
Just like his appreciation for Minnesota, Dozier remembers his time with Southern Miss as being critical to helping him shape who he is as a person and a baseball player.
“My time at Southern Miss, that kind of made me who I am,” Dozier said. “One of the biggest things is Southern Miss is a blue-collar university, [the] Twins per se is a kind of a blue-collar organization. I think the way that kind of coincides together, how I carry myself up here and stuff, I learned a lot at Southern Miss.”
Picture Via: Minnesota Twins