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To recap the countdown so far:
We continue the countdown with the number 14 prospect, Cody Dickson.
14. Cody Dickson, LHP
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.