In today’s player profile, we will take a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 6th round pick Cody Bolton who is expected to make the majors by 2021
Cody Bolton is a right-handed pitcher out of Tracy, California, with a good frame standing at 6’3″ and 185 pounds. Like most Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects he has a plus fastball reaching 97 MPH at times but staying consistently in the range of 93-95. To complement his fastball, Bolton has an above-average slider that looks tight in the zone, according to MLB Pipeline.
In 2017 Bolton showed what he could do in his debut season in the Gulf Coast League. During that season he pitched a pretty clean year with only a 2.81 BB/9 and a 3.4% HR/FB rate. To go along with the clean theme, his batting average on balls in play was only a .286, and his xFIP was a good 3.31. It was apparent that this kid could pitch.
In 2018 he impressed the Pirates so much he bypassed Bristol and went straight to full-season West Virginia where he made even more strides. In his nine starts before being shut down due to forearm issues his BB/9 improved to 1.42, his K/9 went up to 9.14, and his xFIP went down to 3.05. The one problem that started to creep in for Bolton was the number of home runs he gave up as he allowed six home runs in nine starts.
Last year Bolton got to start the year with the High-A team in Bradenton where he was lights out. His K/9 was 10.07 while still showing control with only a 2.04 BB/9, and a phenomenal WHIP of 0.085. His dominance would continue in the earned run department as well with a 1.61 ERA and an xFIP of 2.46 and only giving up one home run. His performance in those 12 starts earned him the call up to the Double-A club in Altoona.
Now Altoona proved to be a bit difficult for the youngster with his ERA ballooning to a 5.85 while giving up six home runs. Now the good news for Bolton is that his xFIP shows he didn’t pitch as bad as his ERA says he did with a 4.02. What killed Bolton with Altoona was his left on base rate of 60.1%. With a stat like that, you are bound to give up some runs. So, stranding runners on base is an area in which Bolton needs to improve in 2020.
This year the 21-year-old will most likely start with the Double-A club where hopefully he can improve upon his left on base rate and his tendencies to give up the long ball. With the inevitability of Mitch Keller starting with the Major League club, the tenth-ranked prospect in the organization should move up some on the list and hopefully make some noise in 2020.