Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Breakout Candidate: Blake Cederlind

A hard throwing reliever enters 2020 as a breakout candidate for the Pittsburgh Pirates

In the 5th round of the 2016 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Blake Cederlind. After beginning his career as a starting pitcher, in 2018 Cederlind became a full time reliever. Since then, his stock as a prospect has steadily climbed.

Last season Cederlind pitched at three levels. With High-A Bradenton he posted a 1.17 ERA, 3.57 FIP and a 23.5% strikeout rate. However, his 17.7% walk rate was, well, bad. With Double-A Altoona, his strikeout rate dipped a bit to 22.7%, but his walk rate dropped all the way to 8.7%. This led to a 1.77 ERA and a 3.06 FIP for the Curve.

It was with the Curve where Cederlind pitched the majority of his season logging 45.2 of his 59.1 innings. He then finished his season pitching 6 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis. With the Indians, he was burnt by a .435 batting average on balls in play to go with two walks and five strikeouts. With the Indians he finished with a 7.50 ERA and a 5.62 FIP.

Earlier this offseason Cederlind was added to the 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Even though he still has refining to do, this was the correct move to make. Due to his high ceiling some team would have taken a chance on Cederlind in the Rule 5 Draft. Especially with how easy it can be to protect a reliever on an active roster, and that was before rosters expanded from 25 players to 26.

Cederlind throws a power fastball that regular hits triple digits. In addition to being a power fastball, this pitch also has good sink which has contributed to him averaging a healthy 48.5% groundball rate in his career. His breaking ball and change up both continue to be a work in progress, but his slider has a lot of potential. Most importantly, his command improved greatly in 2019.

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If Cederlind can continue to pitch with improved control, while also improving one of his secondary pitched he can become a real weapon out of a MLB bullpen. He will certainly be a prospect worth watching in 2020, and, odds are, Pirate fans will see him in Pittsburgh at some point.

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