Pittsburgh Pirates: 2020 Draft Pick to Watch This Season

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Carmen Mlodzinski was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 31st overall pick in the 2020 draft and will be a pitching prospect to keep an eye on this season

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a wealth of young pitching talent in the minors. This past offseason they added the likes of Miguel Yajure, Roansy Contreras, Eddy Yean, Wil Crowe and Omar Cruz to an already deep pitching system that includes Quinn Priester, who’s earned a lot of attention this offseason, Tahnaj Thomas, Brennan Malone, Jared Jones and Cody Bolton. However one name has gotten buried under all the new and upcoming talent. Despite being picked in the first-round of the 2020 draft, right-handed pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski is definitely a name to keep an eye on this year.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Mlodzinski with their competitive balance pick, which was the 31st pick in the draft. The right-handed pitching prospect didn’t put up didn’t put up any eye-popping numbers in college. He pitched to the tune of a 4.29 ERA, 4.07 FIP and 1.53 WHIP through 81.2 innings with the University of South Carolina. This came with a 10.8% walk rate and 20.5% strikeout rate. He did have a solid 0.77 HR/9 rate, but his overall numbers at college were unimpressive.

However, he pitched extremely well in the Cape Cod League. In his 29.1 innings at the hyper competitive college league. Mlodzinski had a fantastic 2.15 ERA, 1.53 FIP and 0.64WHIP. Mlodzinski struck out 40 batters while allowing just four to reach via free pass for a 37%/0.93% strikeout and walk rates. Impressively, he allowed a single home run.

Despite his overall inconsistent performances, Mlodzinski has a high ceiling which led to the Pittsburgh Pirates selecting him with the 31st overall pick in the draft. His fastball sat in the 92-96 MPH range while at the Cape Cod League and has topped out at 98 MPH. It’s a pitch with elite-level potential as both MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs see it as a 60-grade offering in the future.

His primary secondary pitch is a slider. MLB Pipeline considers it a power slider with cutter-like action. They also point out that some scouts even consider his slider and the slider he’ll throw like a cutter as 2 different pitches. Regardless, his breaking ball is seen as a 55-grade offering by Pipeline, but only a 50-grade pitch by FanGraphs. Then there’s his change-up. It’s a sinking pitch that has the potential to be a third plus offering.

Mlodzinski has the frame to be a big power pitcher. He’s listed at 6’2″, 232 pounds. His frame is comparable to that of Justin Verlander, who is listed at 6’5, 235 LBS and San Diego Padres’ starter Dinselson Lamet, who comes in at 6’3″, 228 LBS. Given his fastball is already averaging out in the mid-90s and can reach the upper-90s, an above average breaking pitch with two different variants, and a change-up which projects to be another offering he can throw to get outs, he has both the power and pitch mix to be a very good pitcher in the near future.

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Mlodzinski’s 2021 season will be his age-22 campaign. He’ll likely start out at Low-A or High-A, but could be a fast riser given his play at the Cape Cod League and overall talent. Currently, MLB Pipeline ranks him as the team’s 11th best prospect. He could easily reach the top 10 once Ke’Bryan Hayes graduates status early in the season. He’s also ranked at #14 by FanGraphs. If he can perform to his first round pick status, Mlodzinski could be one of the team’s consensus top 8 prospects, and become a borderline top 100 prospect in the MLB.