Monday, April 2, 2012 | 2:09 a.m.
The all-time hits leader in Las Vegas history, Joe Thurston is still chasing his major-league dreams.
After the Dodgers drafted him in the fourth round of the 1999 MLB draft, Thurston spent three years working his way up through the minor-league system before arriving in Las Vegas as a 22-year-old in 2002.
He made a spectacular debut, hitting .334 with 12 home runs, 22 stolen bases and a single-season 51s record 13 triples en route to earning the Dodgers’ Minor League Player of the Year Award. He earned a September call-up to the bigs and hit .462 in eight games.
However, he has spent the rest of his career trying to replicate that season.
Thurston, a utility infielder, returned to the 51s the following two and a half seasons before being traded to the New York Yankees. He had been given brief chances with the Dodgers each of those years but failed to produce.
In Las Vegas, he’s the all-time leader in games played, at-bats and hits and ranks highly in total bases (2nd), runs (3rd) and doubles (3rd). His seasons in the desert have thus far been the highlight of his professional career.
Thurston’s longest stay in the majors was 124 games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, when he hit .225 and drove in 25 runs.
Last year he played one game for the Florida Marlins and this spring he was playing for the Houston Astros.
He’s just trying to keep the dream alive.