Buried Treasure Top 30 Prospects
#24 - Zack Dodson
Measurables: 6'2, 190
Bats: L, Throws: L
Acquired: 4th round (115th overall), 2009
Buried Treasure 2012 Top 20: #16
In 2009, the Pirates went with a unique draft strategy. With no clear cut best player available at #4 overall, Neal Huntington chose Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez and paid him slot money. He then spent a significant amount of money on high school pitchers who fell due to signability in the later rounds of the draft. Dodson started the run of four pitchers - Zack Von Rosenberg, Colton Cain, and Trent Stevenson included - when he went in the fourth round. Dodson wasn't as highly rated as Von Rosenberg and Cain, but he did command a $600,000 bonus.
The Pirates gave Dodson that amount because of his potential. At the time of the draft, Dodson had a 6'1, 190 pounds athletic frame that allowed him to generate velocity up to 92 mph. In addition, the one-time Baylor commit showed the makings of a plus curveball and an advanced changeup for a high school pitcher. On the negative side, Dodson was noted for having a high effort delivery. Dodson only pitched one innings in 2009, striking out one batter in the GCL.
In 2010, Dodson received a promotion to State College, where he started 13 games and pitched 57.2 innings. He gave up 57 hits and 31 runs, while walking 27 batters to only 41 strikeouts, poor peripheral ratios. On the plus side, Dodson's walk rate improved as the season went on and he only gave up 2 home runs the entire year. Baseball America ranked him as the NYPL's 17th best prospect and the Pirates 18th best prospect. John Sickels ranked Dodson as the Pirates 17th best prospect. The future looked bright for the 20 year-old Dodson as he projected to move to West Virginia in 2011.
The 2011 season started with Zack Dodson being sent to West Virginia to face his first full-season test as a professional. Dodson met the challenge head on and the only thing that really slowed him down was a broken hand in May that caused him to miss nearly the rest of the season. In the time that Dodson was able to pitch, he threw 66.2 innings, giving up 61 hits and 19 earned runs. He also struck out 27 walks and 41 strikeouts, again posting poor peripherals. Dodson did post one good peripheral, a 2.36 GB/FB ratio. In addition, Dodson had been on pace to move steadily up the ladder until the broken hand and he hadn't lost all of his prospect luster just yet. Thanks to his efforts in 2011, Dodson, who had turned 21 years old in July, was ranked as the Pirates 23rd best prospect by Baseball America. Sickels was much more flattering towards Dodson, ranking him 15th and giving him a breakout candidate label.
Thanks to the missed time in 2011, Dodson started the 2012 season once again pitching for the Power. This time, Dodson was able to pitch 100 innings, seeing his hit rate and earned run rate spike. For the season, the Power pitcher gave up 111 hits and 54 earned runs. In addition, Dodson's peripherals - his strikeout and walk rates - got slightly worse, a worrisome trend. To top it off, Dodson got suspended for 50 games for a second positive test for a drug of abuse, meaning he missed the end of the season and will miss three weeks to start 2013. Dodson still has a good arsenal for a lefty, but his prospect status is quickly fading. It'll be interesting to see if the Pirates send Dodson to West Virginia or Bradenton, but either way, Dodson will have to start quickly and pitch well to reestablish himself as a legitimate prospect.