The Pittsburgh Pirates used the 31st overall pick in the 2020 Draft on a college arm. The right-hander is already showing why the team liked him.
During the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates had a total of six selections: five rounds and a Competitive Balance selection. The team used their first round pick to select college hitter Nick Gonzales. Following that pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted five straight pitchers.
The top pitcher they selected was at pick number 31, the Competitive Balance pick was right-handed Carmen Mlodzinski. In college, Mlodzinski pitched for the University of South Carolina. For the Gamecocks he pitched in three seasons and over his first two seasons his ERA was close to six but in 2020 he really took a step forward. While he only started four games in 2020 he had a 2.84 ERA.
However, he really stood out during his time at the Cape Cod League, where he pitched to a 1.83 ERA and struck out 43 hitters over just 34.1 innings pitched. The Cape Cod League is something that Ben Charrington and his staff seem to focus on when looking for potential talent. Obviously, the Cape Cod League has always been one of the most competitive amateur leagues in summer ball so to see him perform at such a high level against elite competition just shows his upside.
The 6’2”, 230 pound pitcher has a big frame to go along with a power fastball and slider. After signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates for just over $2 million, Mlodzinski did not get an opportunity to debut professionally in 2020. So 2021 was going to be the first chance to see what the Bucs got in their 31st overall pick.
Well, so far it looks like the Pittsburgh Pirates got a good one. Mlodzinski has started four games so far for the Pittsburgh Pirates High-A affiliate the Greensboro Grasshoppers. In those four games, he has thrown a combined 16.1 innings and has only allowed one run on a solo shot. He has done a good job of limiting batters reaching base as he has only given up a total of 15 base runners so far. His last two starts have been really eye-opening. In those starts, he has combined for 10 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts and only two walks. The most impressive stat has to be his strikeout numbers, he is striking out 13.78 hitters per nine innings pitched or striking out 25 in those 16.1 innings.
Either way you look at it, Mlodzinski is doing exactly what the Pittsburgh pirates envisioned when drafting him. He is pitching effectively as well as showing that he has punch out stuff. He has shown that he clearly is above the level of competition at High-A. With so much pitcher movement in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, it would be nice to see Mlodzinski get a bump to Double-A sooner rather than later. The Bucs need promising starting pitchers, Mlodzinski looks like he could be one of them for the future.