Pittsburgh Pirates: Top Five Relief Pitching Prospects

Aug 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Nick Mears (70) pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Indians won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Nick Mears (70) pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Indians won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 27: Blake Cederlind #62 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 27, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated Pittsburgh 8-6. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 27: Blake Cederlind #62 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 27, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated Pittsburgh 8-6. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Blake Cederlind

Blake Cederlind put himself on prospect maps with a breakout 2019 season. In 59.1 innings between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A, Cederlind pitched to the tune of a 2.28 ERA, 3.31 FIP and 1.18 WHIP. While he only had a 21.9% strikeout rate and a 9.6% walk rate, Cederlind allowed just 2 home runs. However, six of the 24 walks he surrendered came from 7.2 innings at High-A.

Cederlind’s best pitch is his power fastball. After making the full transition to the bullpen, the right-hander has been able to reach 100 MPH consistently. Overall, he averages out in the 96-98 MPH range. FanGraphs sees it as a 65-grade pitch. Cederlind heavily relies on his fastball as both his slider and change up are seen as average to below average pitches.

While Cederlind didn’t show much swing and miss stuff throughout the minors, the right-hander did have a 50% strikeout rate on his breaking pitch in the Majors, which Baseball Savant identified as a cutter. Cederlind has the stuff to be a strikeout pitcher, but he hasn’t yet shown that in the pros yet. Next year, he could see a rise in strikeouts under the guidance of Oscar Marin. After all, many of the Pirates’ pitchers saw their strikeout rates tick up in 2020 after Marin took over as coach.

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