JUPITER, Fla. -- Dave Duncan is taking Brandon Dickson seriously. That's a pretty good indication that fans and reporters should, too.
Asked about Dickson's candidacy for the Cardinals' vacant fifth-starter spot on Friday, the St. Louis pitching coach didn't hesitate. He likes what Dickson has to offer, even if the undrafted right-hander is less of a big name than nearly anyone else in the competition.
"I think you need to portray him as being very legitimate in the mix," Duncan said.
Dickson is coming off an outstanding year at Triple-A Memphis. He went 11-8 with a 3.23 ERA, 137 strikeouts and 53 walks in 167 innings, allowing just 11 homers on the season. He's an extreme ground-ball pitcher, something that always catches Duncan's eye.
"He's got a great body for a pitcher," Duncan said. I haven't seen him pitch, [so] I'll see if this is true or not when I see him pitch, but he seems to have control of his emotions. His mannerisms are good. We'll see. I like his stuff. I like his ability to throw a breaking ball for strikes, which is along with what I consider a real good sinker."
Kyle McClellan appears to be the favorite for the job, but Dickson will get a look. He'll pitch on Wednesday in relief of Jake Westbrook. Duncan also indicated that if Dickson doesn't make the starting rotation, he'll have a chance to earn a spot as a long reliever with the Major League club.