Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top Prospects: #14 – Cody Dickson

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To recap the countdown so far:

20. Luis Heredia, RHP
19. JaCoby Jones, SS
18. Willy Garcia, OF
17. Clay Holmes, RHP
16. Gage Hinsz, RHP
15. Trey Supak, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 14 prospect, Cody Dickson.

14. Cody Dickson, LHP

Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)
Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

It’s not uncommon for a Pirates pitching prospect to see improvements throughout the season in West Virginia that are hidden by poor overall numbers. That has been the case in the past with guys like Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes, who have struggled in the first half, then quietly dominated in the second half. It’s also the case with Cody Dickson, who had average numbers on the season, but made some great progress.

Dickson entered West Virginia with a fastball that sat in the low-90s and touched 94, and a plus curveball. He lacked two things that he needed to become a starter – a changeup and control. He struggled with the control early in the season, posting a 4.2 BB/9 in his first three months. The Pirates had him slow his fastball down to the 89-91 MPH range in order to focus on controlling the pitch. He showed improvements down the stretch, and dropped his walk rate to a 3.3 BB/9 in August, while also averaging a strikeout per inning during the month.

The changeup showed improvements, with Dickson getting more comfortable throwing the pitch in any count. That will probably be a bigger focus in 2015 when he jumps to Bradenton. His curve led to a lot of outs, and will be even more effective when his other pitches are on. As for the fastball, the hope is that Dickson continues to learn control of the pitch, and then is capable of going back to throwing harder, only this time with control.

At the end of the season, Dickson started to wear down physically, and the Pirates had to reduce his workload. He has a projectable frame, and will probably need to add some muscle to that frame in order to withstand an entire season as a starter.

Dickson has a lot of upside as a lefty who can throw in the low-90s and touch 95. He has a lot of movement on his fastball, and if he can add control, and develop his changeup, he could end up a middle of the rotation starter. If he doesn’t work out as a starter, he could become a dominant lefty out of the pen. He could have a shot at moving up to Altoona in 2015, although it’s more likely that he spends a full season in Bradenton working on developing the changeup, while continuing improvements with his control.

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  • Just kind of curious where Blake Taylor might’ve fit in these rankings had he not dealt. Last year Taylor and Dickson were #16/#17. Gonna be interesting going forth to see who makes it to the ‘show’ first (or maybe neither makes it?).

    • Hard to say, since I didn’t see Taylor after he was traded and don’t know where he’s at right now with his progression. The last I checked, his numbers weren’t good. I doubt he’d be in the top 20 again this year, and possibly not even in the top 30.

      • I was in favor of the Davis for Taylor trade because 1B was a train wreck. John thought Rodriguez for Borden was an overpay. I’m inclined to think the same given Rodriguez types aren’t as hard to find. Do you think they overpaid by trading Borden?

        • The Taylor trade made sense. They’ve got a lot of young, projectable starting pitchers in the lower levels. They also have a lot of good pitching prospects in the upper levels. So they can afford to trade one if it could possibly land them a starting first baseman.

          I didn’t like the Borden deal as much. The same scenarios exist as far as the pitching depth in the minors. But the upside here is one year of a utility player.

          • Tim/deacs: Agree on both counts – the trades were necessary to enhance this team, but giving up talent is hard to do. Disagree that players like Rodriguez are not hard to find. Sean Rodriguez has extensive experience at every infield position (including 1B) and plays often in the outfield as well. The Pirates have had their eyes on him since 2009 when he hit 29 HR’s at AAA when he was with the Angels. He can bring a lot to the Pirates in 2015 by providing a RH hitting 1B as well as a sure-handed guy to play 2B, 3B, or SS when needed.

      • Lee Foo Young
        January 20, 2015 1:19 pm

        Tim…that was my thinking. Last I checked he was in the 11-20 category on Amazin Avenue. But that was awhile ago. Hopefully, we kept the correct LHP. 🙂

      • Lee Foo Young
        January 20, 2015 1:26 pm

        I just checked John Sickels. He gave him a Grade C and he didn’t make their Top 20. At best, since there were SIX C+ guys ahead of him, he is #27.

        Almost makes up for Dilson Herrera for one month of Byrd? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • I think you can compare Taylor to Billy Roth. Both have potential, but they also had some bad control issues in their second season. You would have to give the prospect ranking advantage to Taylor, who is a lefty and has the slightest advantages on age and size/frame. So right now, he would be somewhere ahead of Roth, probably 2-3 spots.

  • Reminds me of Tony Watson coming up.