Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Carmen Mlodzinski will eventually be part of the team’s rotation, but when could we expect to see him in the major leagues?
The 2020 draft was only five rounds and the Pittsburgh Pirates only had six picks. They made the best of those six picks. They had the 7th overall pick and selected Nick Gonzales with their first pick. They also had another second-round pick in the form of a competitive balance pick. This was the 31st overall selection and used that on college right-hander Carmen Mlozinski. Despite being picked not that long ago, Mlozinski could be in the major leagues sometime next season. But when will we see the talented right-hander?
Last season Mlodzinski pitched to the tune of a 3.93 ERA, 4.34 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP in 50.1 innings at High-A Greensboro. The first-rounder struck out a ton of batters, 30% to be exact. His 9.4% walk rate wasn’t anything to write home about, but he still had a healthy 3.2 K/BB ratio. Mlodzinski’s biggest weakness was the long ball, which he surrendered at a 1.25 per-9 rate. Though outside of one outing where he gave up 2 in 2 innings, he had a 0.93 HR.9. Plus the High-A East’s average HR/9 rate was 1.32.
Mlodzinski’s batted ball rates were nothing special, but they were still very usable. He had a 42.9% ground ball rate and a 31.7% flyball rate. Though the 25.4% line drive rate was a bit worrying. His 17.2% HR/FB ratio shows that he did run into some back luck when it comes to the long ball. Mlodzinski’s xFIP of 4.00 reflects what his FIP could look like based on his fly ball and the league average HR/FB ratio.
The right-hander can crank it up. His sinking fastball has hit 99 MPH but usually sits around 95-97 MPH. The velocity gives him a 60-grade offering. His changeup is a solid offering he has a feel of and is an offering he can rely on. There is some debate on what his breaking ball is. Some see a cutter and others see a slider. Regardless of what you see, both versions of his breaker are considered above average.
Mlodzinski will turn 23-years-old in February. The Pittsburgh Pirates got Mldoznski 2.0 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis at the end of the 2021 season and there’s a pretty good chance he skips Double-A completely. The new regime has been more aggressive with some of their promotions with Travis Swaggerty skipped Double-A as well, Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras ending 2021 at the major league level, starting Liover Peguero at High-A Greensboro despite being about 3 years younger than most of the competition at that level, and getting Henry Davis some time at Greensboro to end 2021. There are a handful of other examples, but those are just the most notable.
With the Pittsburgh Pirates being more aggressive with their more talented prospects, it wouldn’t be impossible to see Mlodzinski in early-to-mid-June. If he gets off to a blazing hot start, sometime in June might even be likely. However, the more realistic projection is sometime in July, likely around the All-Star break. While it’s becoming more and more common for teams to promote their higher-end prospects early, Mlodzinski still has less than 100 innings pitched as a professional.
Getting Mldozinski at least a dozen or so starts at Triple-A would be ideal. Unless his performance demands a promotion to the majors, then he could be a mid-season call-up. Mlodzinski has a ton of talent and could be a #2 starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates long-term. The Pirates could get that potential in the rotation regularly for the last two-and-a-half months of the 2022 season.