Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: A Look at Cody Ponce


The Pittsburgh Pirates made a trade with their division rival the Milwaukee Brewers.  Coming back in the deal is an interesting pitching prospect.

Many Pittsburgh Pirates fans did not know what to expect in terms of Jordan Lyles.  There was talk pretty early in July that the team would look to deal the veteran.  For as well as Lyles pitched in the first part of the season, he has really struggled over the last two months.  No one really knew if the Pittsburgh Pirates would even be able to get something for him.

Well, that question was answered when the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers swung a trade for Lyles.  This made sense and was somewhat speculated.  The Brewers recently demoted starter Jimmy Nelson to the minors and placed Jhoulys Chacín on the disabled list.  The Brewers acquired Lyles at last year’s deadline as well, so being they were familiar with him it seemed logical.  Of course, inter-division trades are rare.

Coming back to the Pittsburgh Pirates is a very intriguing relief pitching prospect by the name of Cody Ponce.  Ponce may be a familiar name to some fans as he was one of the top college arms in the 2015 Draft.  The Brewers drafted the 6’6” 225-pound pitcher with their second-round pick (number 55 overall).  He entered the Brewer organization as a starting pitcher and was ranked inside the Brewer’s top 30 prospects since being drafted.

As a starter, Ponce had success at the major league level, but not exactly what a team would hope to get from one of their top draft picks.  Last year, he struggled at Double-A as a starter, throwing to a 4.36 ERA.  Furthermore, he was only striking out eight batters per nine innings and was only getting ground balls 43 percent of the time.

The Brewers eventually moved the big righty to the bullpen and started him out as a reliever at Double-A this year.  The move to the bullpen has done wonders for him and he is currently having the most effective season of his career. So far he has pitched in 38.1 innings across 27 games, where he has posted a 3.29 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP.  He also has improved his K/9 to 10.33 while walking just under three per nine. Furthermore, he is boasting a really strong 56 percent groundball rate.

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Ponce honestly is a very interesting pickup.  Yes, he is just a relief prospect, but he has been a highly-touted prospect, a top draft pick, and is very projectable.  As mentioned earlier, he stands at 6’6” and weighs 225 pounds.  His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he also has a plus curveball and cutter.  Ponce has the upside of a backend of the bullpen type arm, which you can never have too many of.