ZACK DODSON, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: July 23, 1990
Height: 6′ 2″
Drafted: 4th Round, 115th Overall, 2009
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Medina Valley (Castroville, TX)
Agent: Peter Vescovo, Select Sports Group
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Baseball America listed Dodson as the 27th best prospect in Texas, but he was not ranked in their top 200 overall. Dodson played the outfield in 2009 and hit .465 with 11 HRs, but scouts liked him more as a pitcher. He can reach the low 90s and has a good curve, but had an inconsistent 2009 season that hurt his draft status, or at least that’s how Baseball America characterized it. It’s hard to see much inconsistency in those stats. Dodson had a commitment to Baylor and supposedly wanted a seven-figure bonus, but he signed with the Pirates for $600K a little over a week before the deadline.
Pitched one inning on the last day of the GCL season.
Spent season at State College and showed promise, but struggled with his control. He made steady progress, with his ERA and walk rate dropping each month. In June and July, he walked 17 in just 26.1 IP, but in August and September he walked only 10 in 31.1 IP. He didn’t get many grounders, as his groundout to air out ratio was only 0.83, and his K rate was low. On the plus side, he allowed only two longballs. Baseball America rated him the NYPL’s 17th best prospect.
Dodson pitched very well at West Virginia, but his season was interrupted by a broken hand in May. He missed over a month and then went on a seven-start rehab stint in the GCL and at State College. In 13 starts with the Power, he had a good ERA and WHIP, with low walk and K rates. He threw in the low 90s, reaching 93, early in the season, but was hitting 88-90 after the layoff. He was more of a groundball pitcher, with a groundout to air out ratio of 1.44. Left- and right-handed batters hit for the exact same average against him (.246).
Dodson’s 2012 season was close to a disaster. To begin with, he went back to West Virginia despite his good showing there in 2011. Then his pitching took a large step backward. Opponents hit .280 against him, compared to .246 in 2011; his HR rate nearly doubled; and his walk rate increased dramatically as well. The last item was a major problem, as he had some control meltdowns and generally showed poor command. To top it all off, he got hit with a 50-game suspension for twice failing tests for a drug of abuse. The suspension will cost him roughly the first three weeks of the 2013 season, in addition to the last month of 2012.
Once Dodson was eligible to return, he joined the Bradenton rotation. He didn’t pitch especially well there, although he wasn’t overmatched. He had a very low K rate and right-handed batters hit 277/349/416 against him. Dodson had a number of games in which he pitched well for several innings but then ran into trouble. He did have one major highlight, throwing seven hitless innings in a game on August 11. The Pirates moved him up to Altoona for one spot start, but it obviously didn’t go well.
Dodson spent the season in the Altoona rotation. He had some stretches in which he pitched well, but mostly he didn’t. He struggled in June and July in particular, posting a 6.22 ERA before recovering with a 3.16 ERA in August. He had a lot of trouble with right-handed hitters, allowing them a .381 OBP, although he wasn’t all that effective against left-handed hitters.
Dodson was eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the second time, but wasn’t a candidate to be added to the roster or selected. He returned to the Altoona rotation and spent the season there. Like all of Altoona’s starters, he was outstanding in the early season, allowing no earned runs in April. He hit a rough stretch at mid-season, though, with an ERA of 5.29 from May 21 through July 24. He improved his control and generally kept the ball in the ballpark, but his K rate dropped still more. By the end of the season, he also wasn’t showing the velocity he had in the past, throwing only in the mid- to upper-90s.
Dodson has always had good stuff for a lefty, but he’s never had consistent command. He’ll finally be eligible for minor league free agency after the season, so 2015 was probably his last with the Pirates’ organization. If he and Jeff Inman both move on, that will mean none of the pitchers the Pirates drafted in 2009 is still with the system.
|2015: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $600,000
MiLB Debut: 2009
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2015
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 10, 2009: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round, 115th overall pick; signed on August 7.|