Pittsburgh Pirates: A look at Blake Cederlind’s 2021 Potential

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates next top bullpen weapon made his debut in 2020.  Overall, he showed off his power stuff and what he could bring in 2021.

Entering the 2020 season, there were a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen.  While on the paper they were not going to catch a lot of attention, the amount of young arms was noteworthy.  This was especially true after seeing some of these young arms impress during Spring Training in February and March.

One of the arms that caught a lot of attention was Blake Cederlind.  Cederlind has been a rising prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, especially over the last few years.  Originally a starter in college, Cederlind has quickly become the Bucs top relief prospect.

Cederlind’s move to the bullpen gave him the exact opportunity he would need to have success as a professional pitcher.  The Pittsburgh Pirates saw the upside he had as a reliever early in his career.  The 6’4” righty had a power arm that sat in the mid 90s as a starter, but in short stints, he could work it up in the upper 90s.  After being selected in 2016, the Bucs transitioned Cederlind as a full time reliever half way through 2017.

The move has paid off, as Cederlind has become the Pittsburgh Pirates top relief prospect.  He made his debut this past season, although he did not get as much time as one would have hoped.  At the beginning of the year, Cedelind had to miss time due to COVID-19 quarantine.  This put him behind the eight-ball.  Due to this, he had to work and build his arm back up for game action, so he had to go to Altoona after he came back.

All in all, Cederlind only pitched in five games accounting for just four innings.  He pitched to a 4.50 ERA (two runs) but struck out four hitters.  Both runs he gave up came in one outing against the Cubs, when he gave up two solo shots.  One of the positives to come out of his work was he only walked one hitter; command will be what determines Cederlind’s career trajectory.

Right now, Cederlind looks every bit of a potential backend of the bullpen arm.  He has the stuff to be that in the future for sure.  His sinking fastball can touch triple digits and averaged 98.2 mph this past season. He also showed off his impressive breaking pitch, which works as a cutter.  This sat on average at nearly 90 mph. Both his pitches have spin rates well above league average.

dark. Next. A Big Need in the Buc's System

Blake Cedelind only pitched in five games in 2020.  This was a lot less than many would have expected.  However, in his short time at the big league level and in Spring Training, Cederlind showed just how dominant he can be.  With that, Cederlind should not only open with the team in 2021, but he should also have a defined late inning* role.

*While “inning roles” are not necessarily the most effective way to use your best relievers, this is still the common theme across the League.