At 26 years old, Dusty Coleman’s life has changed quite a bit from the multi-sport standout we knew so well at O’Gorman High School.
The former Wichita State shortstop and Oakland A’s draft pick is now married to his college sweetheart and living in the Kansas City area, occasionally returning to his hometown of Sioux Falls.
One thing remains the same: Coleman’s desire to play major-league baseball.
He just finished his sixth season as a member of the Oakland organization after being drafted in the 28th round out of Wichita State in 2008 and receiving a signing bonus of $675,000. He missed out on the 2010 season while recovering from wrist surgery.
Coleman came close to the highest level in 2013, playing six games with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats at the end of the season.
He spent most of the year with the Double-A Midland (Texas) RockHounds, hitting .260 with three home runs and 61 runs batted in, posting an on-base percentage of .344 and adding 17 stolen bases.
The RockHounds struggled with a 62-78 record, but Coleman took solace in the fact that eight former Midland players represented Oakland in the American League Division Series, including standouts such as Brett Anderson, Sonny Gray and Kurt Suzuki.
Even more comforting was his late-season promotion to Triple-A, where the O’Gorman alum previously spent time as an injury replacement in 2011.
“Getting to chance to move up to that level was refreshing and rejuvenating,” said Coleman, who had a fielding percentage of .965 in Midland while playing shortstop and second base.
“To be one step closer to your ultimate goal is a good feeling, and I felt like I earned that chance. Talent-wise, I know I can play up there, but you have to do it consistently every day. That’s the struggle with baseball.”
Rather than playing winter ball, Coleman plans to work out near his home in Olathe, Kan., and spend time with his newlywed wife, a former volleyball standout at Wichita State. He is also working to finish his business management degree online.
He’ll find out his next assignment after reporting to spring training with Oakland, but his goal is to start the season at Triple-A and be a step closer to making the big-league roster.
“I think starting (in Sacramento) is realistic,” Coleman says. “I’ve spent almost two years at Double-A, and depending on what moves they make in the offseason, with free agents and stuff, I think I can be in that Triple-A infield.”
While other sports see more instant gratification for young athletes, baseball’s farm system requires almost super-human patience. Seemingly endless seasons and tedious travel have eroded the dream of many minor-league players, but Coleman is willing to pay the price.
“There are some guys who get that easy pass to the big leagues, where things just work out,” he says. “But most guys have to pay their dues, move up each level and take advantage of it when they finally do get their shot. It’s definitely a grind and a tough process, but hopefully it pays off in the end.”
Note: Coleman is returning to Sioux Falls in late November to put on his annual DC Baseball Development Clinic at the Sanford Fieldhouse. The Nov. 30 camp includes fundamental clinics for ages 6-10 and ages 11-14 and also an advanced clinic for ages 13-18.
More information can be found in the events listings at sanfordpower.com or by calling (605) 312-7905.