Pittsburgh Pirates: Carmen Mlodzinski Continues Strong Start to Pro Career
|Photo Credit: AP|
As a part of the competitive balance round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected South Carolina right-handed pitcher, Carmen Mlodzinski, 31st overall.
Mlodzinski didn't pitch much at the college level, due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as missing time with a broken foot his sophomore season.
He dominated the Cape Cod league, however, to a tune of 40 strikeouts (four walks) across 29 1/3 innings while posting a 2.15 ERA in six starts. He only allowed 15 hits and his WHIP 0.648.
Much like how the Pirates put their faith in what they saw at the Cape with their first selection - Nick Gonzales - Ben Cherington believed he saw enough to make Mlodzinski the next pick of the shortened draft.
That seems to be paying off for the Pirates, and the player ranked as the 21st ranked prospect at the time of the draft according to MLB.com.
Now with Gonzales out with an injury, Mlodzinski is stepping up to be the face of the 2020 draft in the early goings.
Playing for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Mlodzinski hasn't looked out of place in a rotation with some of the Pirates top pitching prospects, and in fact is looking like someone who could move quickly threw the system.
Mlodzinski, 22, put in another great effort on Sunday, throwing five shutout innings, allowing four hits, walking one and striking out seven. In his last two starts, Mlodzinski has combined to throw ten shutout innings while striking out a total of 15 batters.
Outside of one start (four walks in 3 1/3), Mlodzinski has shown great control, an part of his game some have expressed concern over.
Mlodzinski throws a low to mid-90s fastball, and after throwing a curveball in high school now 'has a low-80s slider with power and depth that sometimes morphs into a cutter' (MLB.com). They also believe that he has the potential to have three plus pitches by time things are said and done.
MLB.com has him listed as a potential middle of the rotation starter and are fairly confident he can reach that if he improves his control.
Time for a Promotion?
Of the initial rotation for the Grasshoppers, Mlodzinski is the lone player to come from the college ranks. The rest were either international signings (Tahnaj Thomas and Omar Cruz) or drafted out of high school (Quinn Priester, Braxton Ashcraft, Michael Burrows), so it could make sense that Mlodzinski may move fast through the system.
Max Kranick was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis and has made two starts so far, with a spot opened up in Altoona. Trey McGough filled in this week against Richmond, but could Mlodzinski eventually be the answer?
It is something the Pirates should certainly consider. He bounced back from his worst start of the season with back to back five scoreless innings starts, and has kept the walks down with 64% of his pitches going for strikes.
Do you think Mlodzinski is ready for Double-A, or should he stay where he is at right now? What do you think is upside is as a starter, and what are your expectations for him in 2021? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link above and follow the site on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy. You can also follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.