Carmen Mlodzinski: College Arm Looks to be Fast Riser in Pirates' System
The Pittsburgh Pirates have no shortage of pitching depth in the minors, so it might be easy to get overlooked as a prospect. Ranked consistently high in the Pirates system, it's time to talk a little bit more about 2020 competitive balance pick, Carmen Mlodzinski.
Mlodzinski was the 31st overall pick by the Pirates last year out of the University of South Carolina, and was signed just under slot at $2.05 million. He didn't get to pitch much at South Carolina thanks to a foot injury and the pandemic, but his showing at the Cape Cod League was enough for Ben Cherington to grab him up.
In eight starts this season, Mlodzinski has posted a 2-2 record along with a 2.65 ERA in 37 1/3 innings pitched. He has also struck out 51 batters in that span compared to just 10 walks - with 66% of his pitches going for strikes.
The 22-year-old Mlodzinski has held batters to an .191 average, 0.96 WHIP and a .597 OPS. Even in what was maybe his worst start this season this past Saturday, you could find plenty to like from the righty.
This was two batters after giving up a game-tying three-run home run. After falling behind 2-0, Mlodzinski gets Evan Edwards to swing nearly out of his shoes before running a fastball up in and finally closing out the at bat with a strike three slider looking.
According to Fangraphs, Mlodzinski offers a four-pitch mix that already boosts three at-least average offerings. The fastball is seen as a potential plus pitch, and his cutter may reach above average. The only below average offering is his change up, a sentiment not shared by MLB.com who believes Mlodzinski's off speed pitch can end up being above average.
I liked how Mlodzinski started backwards with his slider, worked inside for a show-me fastball that got fouled away before coming back to getting the swinging strikeout to end the inning.
Mlodzinski is going to be an interesting case to watch going forward. On a staff full of pitchers that were mostly drafted out of high school, Mlodzinski is showing his advanced pitchability so far in Greensboro. Omar Cruz was the first player to be promoted to Altoona, but even through an outing where he allowed five earned runs, Mlodzinski is showing he should be the next up.
If he is able to continue this advanced approach, and gets to Altoona around or just after the All-Star break, it wouldn't be the craziest thing to think that the right-handed Mlodzinski could end up in Pittsburgh by the end of next season or end up fighting for a rotation spot Opening Day 2023.
What has been your impressions of Mlodzinski so far? What is his timeline to the majors? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the page, and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.
Also, follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.