In today’s ‘A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer’ Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Cody Bolton took the time to speak with me on several topics. Cody is a great guy and it led to some great discussion.
We are nearing our tenth installment of ‘A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer,’ and I couldn’t be happier! Having the opportunity to speak to these Pittsburgh Pirates prospects and the overwhelming support I’ve gotten has been amazing. I hope now you see these players as more than just “Minor.”
Now, to the business at hand. For my ninth installment of ‘A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer,’ I was able to sit down on a beautiful Sunday evening with Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Cody Bolton. Bolton, in some people’s eyes, is the next big-time pitching prospect that will get the call to the Majors for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For those of you who don’t know who Bolton is, he offered a brief description of himself.
“Everyone who knows me knows I’m a pretty calm and laid back person. I don’t get super excited about things, but of course, there are certain things where I will get excited, but I’m not over-emotional. The biggest thing though is I’m calm and quiet usually.”
To offer an even more brief description about himself, I wanted to know the one word people would use to describe him. “I’d say determined. I’m always trying to get things done to the best of my ability and try to accomplish the tasks that are in front of me or the tasks I set for myself.” I know you can’t hear what I heard, but even in his voice despite his quiet nature, he carried quite the powerful voice that just screamed DETERMINED!
Forces drive people to do accomplish many things in life and baseball is no different. To get a sense of why Bolton wanted to play baseball, I wanted to know if any people drove him to play the game.
“I don’t think so. I’ve always loved sports, and I was always outside as a kid. Any time I had the opportunity to go outside, I was doing something. I played football, baseball, and soccer growing up. In my sophomore year in high school is when I decided to focus on baseball, and that’s when I really fell in love with the game.”
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Now, this is the part where I want to know if they weren’t playing baseball or when their career ends what would they love to do outside of the game. “If I wasn’t playing baseball, I would like to be a firefighter or a police officer. I want to do something to support the community I’ve always had a passion for that kind of thing. Another thing I would like is to have a family and just spend as much time with them as possible.”
There is no doubt Bolton is right on the edge to making it to the big leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates and getting that much anticipated call. Naturally, I wanted to know where he saw himself in three years.
“In three years, I would definitely like to be up in the big leagues. I went into spring training this year with the goal of possibly playing there this year. I don’t know how realistic that is now with everything that is going on, but definitely next year, I can see myself being up in the big leagues. But in three years, I want to be that mid-week starter or that ace.”
Everyone’s experience with the speed of the game is different, and in Bolton’s case, jumping from high school to pro ball might have been that case of a decent-sized jump in speed of the game. “It was kind of fast definitely faster than high school. I’d say for the first year in the GCL it kind of felt like travel ball with the competitiveness of it everyone down there was good it was all the top high schoolers and some late round college guys. I’d say the competition level is what made the game fast”.
So far, we have seen some outstanding players as examples of role models for these minor league guys, and it was no different for Bolton. “I started to really like baseball when I moved out to California as a kid. I’d watch the San Fransisco Giants and both my sisters are Giants fans. I’d always watch (Madison) Bumgarner the way he pitched he was just always dominating on the mound, and he had a presence. I wanted to have that exact same presence, so I’d say, Madison Bumgarner.”
Like most fast-rising prospects, they will make a jump to a more advanced league within the year. In Bolton’s case, he jumped from High-A Bradenton to Double-A Altoona last year, and I wanted to know how severe the culture change was for him.
“I’d say there was a pretty big difference team-wise. The team in Bradenton for me was super close everybody was really good friends, and everyone pretty much hung out with each other. It made the game that much more fun for me.”
“When I got into Altoona, it was kind of more serious you could tell guys were fighting for spots there. It was kind of awkward for me going up there because there were older guys, and I felt a bit of pressure was on me because you had the older guys were wondering who this young buck was. There was a time in Altoona where we were losing a ton of games, and then we had a team talk, and we then started to get closer, and we started to hang out a bit more. It was then that it started to feel a little bit like Bradenton, but the experience from going from High-A to Double-A was extremely cool.”
The one question I love to ask pitchers is what their go to pitch was if they knew they needed an out. So, what is the Pittsburgh Pirates prospect’s go to pitch?
“I’d say either my four-seam or my cutter. The cutter that I learned last year was a very successful pitch. I was able to do two different things with it I could throw it at 84-86 MPH with a lot more break downwards, or I could throw it 88-91 with a lot more break to the extension side. I was able to mess with batters that way, and it was very successful for me. It enabled me to get swing and miss, ground balls, and popups. Just being able to have that in my arsenal was great.”
To stay true with his pitches, I wanted to know what he’s adding or developing to his tool belt of pitches.
“This year we’ve added a curveball to the mix I’ve had some extremely high spin rates on it during spring. We’ve been working on that, and it’s coming out really well; it’s more of a drop instead of a sweeping action. Another is my change up, and that change up has come a long ways I’m definitely more comfortable throwing it this year. So, whenever we get going again, I’d be throwing it a lot more.”
Joel Hanrahan seems to be the talk of the town when it comes to up and coming pitching coaches both in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and across baseball as a whole. With Hanrahan coaching with Altoona, I wanted to know what kind of a coach he was towards Cody and others last year.
“He is probably THE greatest pitching coach I’ve ever had I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably always say that. One of the main reasons was because he’s been there recently and he knows what the game is like nowadays. He relates to us really well, and it’s easy for us to communicate with him on how our bodies feel. All of the things he has to say are very insightful, and it makes you always want to listen when he’s coaching you up.”
During these unprecedented times, it is always essential to get work in when you can. For pitchers, it’s vital to get throwing sessions in, among other things. So, I wanted to know what Bolton y is doing to stay in shape.
“I’ve actually built a pitching mound out of wood like a portable one. Then I found a high school catcher to come out and catch at my house. Workout wise it’s been a struggle my dad and I were able to find a cable weight training thing, and I also got connected with one of our strength coaches who lives in the area I’m actually starting with him soon.”
Some pitchers find it necessary to improve each day and each year on specific things. Cody’s was, “coming at the hitters a lot more showing them that I can throw whatever I want in the strike zone to get ahead in counts. Last year I was pretty good at getting ahead in counts, but there is always room for improvement on that.”
This question was an intriguing one for me, and I’ve asked it to the other top Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects such as Tahnaj Thomas and Quinn Priester, and that is what would you have to say about being heralded as one of the saviors to the franchise. “It’s pretty awesome” he went on to mention the other two guys, Thomas and Priester, and how they are really close and have developed a bond. If the Pittsburgh Pirates need anything, it’s having these three, and it’s nice to see them be friends as well.
In regards to Bolton’s future and his communication with the new sheriff in town, Ben Cherington, I wanted to know what their plan was for him this year.
“I haven’t spoken to them personally, but my agency has. They’ve all said great things they’re saying I have no one ahead of me right now, and it’s just whenever I want to make that move on my own. It’s pretty much like controlling my own destiny.”
Now for the most important question of them all and that is, did Mr. Bolton play as himself in The Show? “Yes, I have, and it’s super weird.” He mentioned it’s not exact to what he looks like and that he played against himself, and his batting average against himself is awful. Even though I’m probably the better player on the sticks, I’m certain that Bolton is yet another pitcher in this organization to have a great career once he makes it to the Majors.