By Jim Lane
CURVE, Pa. – Consistency is a key word when people talk about Altoona Curve pitcher Cody Dickson.
Like the Curve, Dickson got off to a slow start this season, losing his first two decisions. But, the Curve have turned things around, and Dickson has too.
When Dickson and the Curve beat Erie, 5-1, on June 7, it was his fifth straight winning decision, tops on the club.
“I have more structure,” the 23-year-old lefthander said when asked about the turnaround. “I have a better five-day routine and a better game plan.
“I don’t worry as much,” he continued. “I have trust and confidence in what’s working. When you believe and trust, you have more confidence.
“Consistency is a huge thing,” Dickson said. “You can’t be up and down. You want them to know you can do it.”
Curve manager Joey Cora echoed Dickson’s thoughts about consistency.
“(Dickson) has improved since the beginning of the year till now,” Cora said. “What we really want him to do is attack the strike zone with more consistency.
“He has a good breaking ball, a good changeup and fastball too,” Cora noted, “but, at times, he throws too many pitches.”
Coming into the 2016 season, Dickson had an overall record of 21-16 with a 373 ERA in 68 minor league starts. His 12-7 mark at Bradenton last year earned him a tie for the most wins in the Florida State League.
“Each level is different,” Dickson said. “Each level is better and you’ve got to find ways to get guys out.”
“He does some good things and, when he attacks the strike zone, he’s very successful,” Cora said. “He does a good job of holding runners on because he has such a good move to first base. If someone gets on, it usually takes three hits to get him in, and that’s not easy.”
A Texas native, Dickson attended Sam Houston State and was selected by the Pirates in the fourth round of the 2013 draft after compiling a 17-11 record in three years for the Bearkats.
“We got to the NCAA Regionals two out of the three years,” he said. “It definitely was the experience of a lifetime.”
Current Curve teammate Tyler Eppler and Dickson were teammates at Sam Houston.
“(Eppler) came when I was a junior,” Dickson noted, “and we were roomies on the road, so I’ve known him a long time.”
After signing with the Pirates, Dickson was sent to short-season Jamestown where he was 2-0 in 14 starts. At low-A West Virginia in 2014, he went 7-9 with a 3.90 ERA. Then it was on to Bradenton in 2015 and Altoona this season.
“I’m blessed to be where I am,” the 6-foot, 198-pound southpaw offered. “I want to keep moving up and eventually get to the big leagues.”
It’s in his hands, Cora said.
“He’s young, has a good arm and makes the plays,” Cora said of Dickson. “He’s got a good future, but he needs to get left-handers out and needs to attack the strike zone with all of his pitches on a more consistent basis.
“Whether he’s a starter or reliever on the next level will depend on how many strikes he throws,” Cora said. “That’s the difference maker for him.
“If he does that, he has a good future.”