6/7/2014 10:53 P.M. ET
Dykstra elated son landed with 'first-class' Braves
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- As the second day of this year's First-Year Player Draft unfolded, Lenny Dykstra was stirred by the intense competitive nature that fueled him throughout his Major League career. The three-time All-Star who earned the nickname, Nails, could not understand why clubs were passing on his son during the third and fourth rounds.
But after patiently waiting through the first three hours of Friday's phase, Dykstra felt a genuine sense of excitement and paternal pride when he learned that the Braves had used their seventh-round selection to take Luke Dykstra, a talented second baseman from suburban Los Angeles' Westlake High School.
"I'm very excited that he's with the Atlanta Braves," the elder Dykstra said. "They're a great organization. I know they don't like me very much because I kicked their [butt] all the time. But they're a first-class organization. They win. They are obviously doing a lot of things right there. They keep bringing players up there like the Cardinals. It's almost like the Braves and Cardinals have some kind of factory where they clone these [players]."
The Braves see Luke as an enlarged clone of his father, who made the most of the 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame he fashioned while spending the entirety of his 12-year big league career with the Mets and Phillies.
While Lenny recognizes his son has that same gritty nature that led him to consistently have one of the dirtiest uniforms in the Majors, he's also thankful that his son is already gifted with physical attributes that trump those that he gained via his admitted use of performance enhancing drugs
"The Draft is over and now it's about getting on the field and playing the game the right way," Dykstra said. "Luke has kind of what I had. What I mean by that is Luke is like a red light flare. He's always in the right place at the right time. His instincts are great. That's stuff you can't teach.
"But the only difference is he's 6-foot-2, 190 [pounds]. Drugs are out. There are no more drugs in baseball. You've got to be built to last that schedule. When drugs were rampant, everybody was doing it. We didn't know who was doing what. Now it's about baseball players. To go through six months and be productive every day, you have to be built for that schedule."
Luke Dykstra will soon get a sense of this grueling schedule that his father and older brother Cutter, a Minor Leaguer in the Nationals' organization have already experienced. The 18-year-old infielder is expected to sign for slot money, approximately $163,900 and begin his professional career at the Braves' Spring Training facility in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. within the next week.
"He's just like his dad, he plays with his hair on fire," Braves director of scouting Tony DeMacio said after selecting Dykstra on Friday.
While attempting to take any potential extra base, slamming his body against artificial surfaces or filling his body with advantage-gaining chemicals, Lenny Dykstra proved he saw no boundaries to success. This helped the former 13th-round selection to win one World Series, compete in another and lead the National League in hits twice. But this mindset proved destructive in the business world. The former outfielder pled guilty to bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets and money laundering in 2012 and ended a 6 1/2-month prison sentence on June 21, 2013.
During the year that has followed, Dykstra has focused on mending his ways and preparing Luke for life as a professional baseball player.
"He can hit, that's not the issue," Dykstra said of his son. "What I worked with him was the understanding of how to hit on a daily basis, having to realize you have to have a gameplan and an approach that you can depend on night in and night out.
"The kid can flat out play. I'm not telling you that because he is my kid. I'm telling you that because it's the truth. He's 6-foot-2, 190, can fly and he'll hit 25 to 30 home runs in the big leagues. I think the Braves stole him at that spot. I think the other teams are going to pay for passing him up."
Luke Dykstra was recently named a 2014 Perfect Game second team All-American and the player of the year in his high school's conference. The Braves were impressed his athleticism and plate instincts.
According to MaxPreps, Dykstra hit .433 with a .570 on-base percentage and just four strikeouts in the 93 plate appearances he compiled during his recently-completed senior season.
"Yeah, he plays the game right and he plays the game hard," Dykstra said. "But I didn't have half the talent this kid has. Luke is a real special player. I say this not because he's my kid, I say this because it's a fact, he's got a chance to be like a real star."
Twenty-one years ago, Dykstra broke the hearts of many Atlanta fans when he hit a game-winning 10th-inning home run in Game 5 of the 1993 National League Championship Series, which was won by the Phillies. At the time, he was not too fond of the Tomahawk Chop.
But Dykstra is now anxiously looking forward to the chance to see Luke begin his journey into the professional ranks with a Braves Tomahawk across his chest.
"The bottom line is he's where he wants to be," Dykstra said. "He didn't want to go to school. He was put on this earth to play baseball. He's happy. So I'm happy for him. He's worked really hard."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.