First impressions can be lasting ones. Sometimes, however, it's what you do after that initial impression that makes people remember what you're capable of. That's what Cody Dickson is hoping.
The Pirates' 17th-ranked prospect gave up four hits and tied a career high with seven strikeouts over seven scoreless innings Saturday night as Class A West Virginia beat Greensboro, 5-1.
Dickson (4-8) issued one walk and recorded eight outs on ground balls. He threw 58 of 86 pitches for strikes while going seven innings for the first time in his career.
"Really, I was just trying to use all three pitches and get them over the plate and let the defense work," he said. "I got a lot of quick outs, which helped me go deep. And when I needed a strikeout, I was able to go for it.
"I had fastball away for a strikeout, fastball in for a strikeout. Pretty much everything was working pretty well. Going seven was pretty big and it will help the bullpen and the staff the rest of the week. It was a good win tonight."
A 2013 fourth-round, Dickson endured a rough first half, going 2-8 with a 5.58 ERA in 13 starts. South Atlantic League foes batted .301 against him, and the 22-year-old left-hander surrendered eight homers and issued 29 walks over 59 2/3 innings. The most important thing about the first half, he said, was that he was able to learn from it.
"The beginning was a little rough," Dickson said. "Just getting acclimated and learning different stuff and trying to find the point when it clicks for me. Really, the first couple of starts were a big learning experience. It's always tough for any pitcher when they struggle. I'm past it, learned from it and as a team we've really come together."
The second half has been much kinder to the Sam Houston State product. In four starts since the All-Star break, he's 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 22 2/3 innings.
"There's been some mechanical stuff, but more just learning really to just trust all your pitches and your defense behind you," Dickson said. "The offense has been great and is going to keep getting better. It's more learning how to pitch to the Minor League players and this level and in certain situations what you go for. Pitch selection has been one of the biggest keys."
Ending his first full Minor League season strongly is one of the things Dickson hopes to achieve.
"Last thing I want is to be done with the season and not be happy with going into the offseason -- should have been better, could have been better," he said. "The second half is a reminder of why everyone is here, and everyone is coming out with a lot of energy."
Brett McKinney took over for Dickson and gave up a hit in the eighth before Yhonathan Berrios surrendered a run on one hit in the ninth for West Virginia.
Pirates' No. 15 prospect Jacoby Jones was 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored, while Edwin Espinal also had two hits and scored twice for the Power.
Marlins' No. 10 prospect Avery Romero tripled and drove in the Grasshoppers' lone run.