Cardinals Pick "Cotton" Dickson

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of Tusculum College right-handed pitcher Brandon "Cotton" Dickson to his first professional contract. Dickson has been assigned to the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League.

After signing with the St. Louis Cardinals this week and being assigned to their rookie-level team at Johnson City, 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Brandon "Cotton" Dickson will be joining his third team in the last three months.

Following his junior campaign with the Tusculum College Pioneers this spring, Dickson excelled this summer in the wood-bat Valley Baseball League (VBL) for the New Market Rebels.

With the Rebels, the West Marbury, Alabama native registered one of the most dominant performances in team history. Dickson set a new franchise record with 13 saves, which also led the League. He also topped the Valley Baseball League in victories, going 5-0 in his 26 relief appearances, which were also most in the VBL.

The 6'-5", 190 pounder pitched 29-2/3 innings this summer and posted a 1.21 earned run average while limiting the opposition to a .167 batting average. Dickson allowed just five walks while striking out 33. His Rebels squad posted a league-best 34-13 record and advanced to the VBL semifinals.

Dickson was twice named VBL Northern Division Pitcher of the Week and tossed a shutout inning in the League All-Star Game. On Tuesday, Dickson was named to the Northern Virginia Daily All-Valley League Team.

The ten-team Valley Baseball League is partially funded by Major League Baseball and the 2006 season marks its 14th year as a wooden bat league. The name is derived from the Shenandoah Valley, located between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains.

As a junior this spring, Dickson went 5-2 with a 3.39 earned run average in his first campaign with the NCAA Division II Tusculum College Pioneers. Dickson tied the Greeneville, Tennessee school's single-season record with his 24 mound appearances, all in relief. He tallied four saves in his 58-1/3 innings of work, as he allowed 59 hits while walking a dozen and striking out 37.

The right-hander garnered South Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Week honors once. Tusculum posted a 40-14-1 record in 2006, while capturing the program's second straight South Atlantic Conference Championship.

Dickson attended Central Alabama Community College in Marbury prior to Tusculum. In his two seasons at the Alexander City, Ala. School, Dickson went 11-7. In 2004, he posted a 7-3 record with a 3.31 ERA, hit .292 and was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year. In 2005, he went 4-4 with a 4.20 ERA and batted .291.

A Cardinals official told me Tuesday that Dickson had an influential supporter inside the organization. Apparently, fellow Alabaman and current Palm Beach right-hander Cory Meacham had "cottoned" up to Dixon's pitching and lobbied in favor of the signing.

Who knows? Maybe Cotton and Cory will play together down the road.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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