Cardinals Minors Starter of the Year: 2010

Cardinals Minors Starter of the Year: 2010

Memphis' Brandon Dickson is The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com's top starting pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system in 2010.

In what was clearly a breakout 2010 season, right-hander Brandon Dickson has earned The Cardinal Nation's Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year Award. While this recognition is for the top pitching performance in the system in 2010, it is worth noting that the 2006 non-drafted free agent did not place in our top 40 prospect ranking coming into the season.

In other words, we didn't see this coming.

Dickson not only excelled, but surpassed the accomplishments of more renowned teammates such as Lance Lynn and P.J. Walters. Dickson tossed the most innings by a Memphis starter and importantly, led the team's starters in both ERA and FIP (fielding independent pitching, which removes all factors out of a pitcher's control). His 3.23 ERA was fourth in the system among qualifiers.

Dickson kept the ball down with the best groundball rate on the staff as well as the fewest home runs allowed. His strikeout total of 137 was just four off the system lead and his win total off 11 was fourth-best in the organization.

Memphis manager Chris Maloney recognizes his pitcher's many contributions.

"Brandon was a huge part of our pitching staff this year," Maloney observed. "He was a rookie in Triple-A and did an outstanding job for us. He showed a plus curveball and made a number of pitches in big spots for us this year."

Maloney noted how Dickson persevered through the rough times.

"What really impressed me about him was his grit, his determination," the manager observed. "He had some starts where things weren't going his way early in the ballgame and he kept after it and never lost his focus. He ended up getting a win in a couple of those games.

"It was a learning experience all the way around for him. He really didn't pitch that bad when he was kind of in a holding pattern, but for one reason or another, we didn't get wins in those ballgames. Overall he had a real solid year from start to finish," Maloney said.

Dickson was one of two Redbirds named to the 2010 Pacific Coast League All-Star Game, along with closer Fernando Salas. Dickson was the only Memphis starter to capture any of the ten possible Pitcher of the Month awards for 2010 (one each from The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization for the months of April through August). Dickson picked up the Cardinals system's nod for June. He was also the PCL Pitcher of the Week once during the season.

After the season concluded, MiLB.com ran a reader contest to select the top starting pitcher across both Triple-A leagues. Of the six nominated candidates, Dickson amassed 55 percent of the vote to win easily despite being the only one without MLB experience.

That may change in 2011. I asked Maloney what Dickson needs to do to be considered MLB-ready.

"Command is always the key for any pitcher," the manager noted. "He needs to get in a spot where he has complete command of both sides of the plate. When he does that, he has just enough fastball to get it done and he has a plus breaking pitch. He's got a curveball that will play in the big leagues, no doubt about it."

Congratulations to Brandon Dickson, The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com 2010 Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year and Happy 26th Birthday. Dickson celebrates his big personal day on Wednesday, November 3.

Note: Link to article with all previous award winners across the system club by club as well as 2010 team recaps, exclusively for subscribers.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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