HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Dylan Dodd wasn't expecting to get the ball for the Hannibal Hoots' first game.
Teammate Quinton Kujawa, who was supposed to get the start, told the Hoots coaching staff his family was coming to visit the second day of the season, and it was going to be the only time Kujawa's family could watch their son play.
Hoots manager Clayton Hicks switched Dodd and Kujawa's starts, putting the left-hander from Kankakee Community College in line to pitch the franchise opener.
"I was supposed to be more of a bullpen guy here," Dodd said. "But I was happy to get the start. I was really the only guy who was fresh, and I took full advantage of it."
Dodd threw six scoreless innings, while allowing just four hits and striking out eight in Hannibal's 4-0 victory over the Danville Dans. That performance kicked off one of the best starts to the season across the Prospect League.
Dodd is 2-0 in two starts with a 1.42 earned run average in 12 1/3 innings. He's struck out 15 batters and walked just one. His ERA is fifth-best in the Prospect League among pitchers with two starts and at least 10 innings.
He's also been one of the best hitters in the league, too.
Dodd is hitting a league-best .433 (13 for 30) with three doubles, a triple and seven RBIs. He's also scored eight runs and struck out just twice.
Terre Haute's Zach Milam is the only other player in the league with a batting average more than .400.
"I see myself more as a hitter or position player who's able to pitch," Dodd said. "(Hitting) is what I'm best at. I like that the most."
Being a two-way player isn't easy. He did it at Kankakee by usually making starts on Sunday games while either playing at first base or designated hitter throughout the week.
The Hoots are applying a similar strategy this summer. After Dodd makes a start, he'll usually get a day off before returning usually as a designated hitter or somewhere else in the field.
"You have to have open communication with him, and we've done that," Hicks said. "Just seeing where his body is,because the last thing we want to do his burn him out or get him hurt.
"It's hard to do both because where do you go during practice? The pitchers are throwing bullpen. Do you go with them? It's hard to do, and he's managed his time really well to do both."
Dodd says he likes to be aggressive at the plate, even if that means swinging on the first pitch. If he gets a first-pitch fastball, he can avoid falling into a pitcher's count.
On the mound, Dodd tries to attack the strike zone using his two-seam fastball.
"I just get ahead of batters," he said. "Once you get ahead and aren't giving up free stuff, they aren't looking for pitches. You can throw any pitch and expand the zone."
It's worked for Dodd through Hannibal's first 11 games.
"I hope it continues," Hicks said. "We put a lot on him, and he's really accepted that. Obviously record-wise we aren't where we want to be, but he's definitely a big part of this team."