TCN 2012 Cards Prospect #32: Brandon Dickson

In a prime example of production over potential, the right-hander continues to get the job done regardless of the level. Whether that will continue in St. Louis remains the question.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile(including links to full 2011 and career stats)

Bio table

School: Tusculum College (Ala.)

Selected 2011 stats
Stats table

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (36): To the extent that prospect #33 Seth Blair epitomizes potential over production, Brandon Dickson represents the opposite end of the spectrum - production over potential. Never perceived as having great pitches, Dickson has none the less been effective throughout his minor league career. An undrafted free agent out of college, Dickson has been an injury-free work horse since signing in 2006, starting in 20 or more games every full year of his minor league career.

Dickson's rise as a prospect began in 2008 when he started to increase his strikeout rate after being promoted to Springfield. He raised it even further in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Dickson took his game to another level by reducing significantly his walk rate as well. The downside to that was an uptick in his home runs allowed but hopefully he can adjust and find a middle ground going forward.

At this point, Dickson's 2012 would seem somewhat up in the air depending on what other pitchers the Cardinal's might sign or might trade prior to the season. Said to be a favorite of pitching coach Dave Duncan due to his strong ground ball tendencies, Dickson could end up the long man in the Cardinals bullpen or possibly the "sixth starter" in Memphis preparing to step into the rotation in case of injury to one of the rotation regulars. In any case, I'd put my money on him seeing time on St. Louis next year.

Message board community (39): Dickson will soon have a World Series ring. I won't. I'll try not to let my jealousy get in the way.

Dickson rose from 49th on the community's list last year to 39th this year. He started to be discussed during the ranking conversation about prospect 23. One of the points in his favor has been his declining walk rate, from 3.05/9 IP in 2009 to 2.86 in 2010 to just 1.83 this past year. He did not flinch in his brief time in the majors, fanning seven in his 8 1/3 innings there. He's clearly more effective vs. righties (an OPS against of .664 last year, vs. lefties' .845).

Dickson turned 27 back in November. He profiles as something of a replacement level player. I would not be surprised to see him back at Memphis next year eating innings and waiting for an injury replacement callup or two. There was some sentiment that he could stick for some time as a Brad Thompson-like long reliever/spot starter. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (29): Dickson holds several distinctions here. First, it is worth noting is that at 27 years of age, he is the second-oldest player in our 2012 top 40 countdown. (I am not giving much away by disclosing that Mark Hamilton was born about three months earlier.) Further, he finally made this list in his sixth year of eligibility, the longest wait for a debut in our top 40 history.

Another point of note, this one in Dickson's favor, is that he is only player in this year's TCN top 40 originally signed as a US free agent. Just fighting his way to the major leagues as an undrafted player has been a tremendous accomplishment for the right-hander and a nice feather in the cap of the Cardinals' scouting and player development organization, but there is no indication he is done.

Dickson has consistently been pitching at a high level. His career Triple-A ERA is 3.58. His FIP was slightly higher this season at 4.11, but that is still pretty good considering there are some bandboxes in the Pacific Coast League. Dickson's BABIP was a reasonable .313. His Memphis career strikeout to walk ratio is better than three to one. In recognition, he has won our Memphis Starting Pitcher of the Year Award in each of the last two seasons and was our system wide Pitcher of the Year in 2010.

Still, Dickson's margin for error is thin. As Redbirds pitching coach Blaise Ilsley told me following the season, "He doesn't have overwhelming stuff. He throws strikes and has movement on his pitches."

Perhaps 2012 will provide the answer to whether Dickson will be remembered as a very good Triple-A pitcher or will carve out more of a big league presence than his 8 1/3 innings to date over four MLB games, including one start.

Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?

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