Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Carmen Mlodzinski will likely make his MLB debut this year, but when could we see him in the big leagues?
The Pittsburgh Pirates made the most of what was a draft that was shortened to just five rounds in 2020. The big-name everyone remembers from that draft is second baseman Nick Gonzales, but the Pirates had a second first-round pick. Coming in at no. 31 as a competitive balance pick, the Pirates used that selection to pick right-hander Carmen Mlodzinski.
Mlodzinski was one of the better college pitchers available in the draft that year. Now, as we approach the 2022 season, Mlodzinski is quickly rising through the system and could be in the Major Leagues sometime this year. But when could we possibly see one of the Pittsburgh Pirates better pitching prospects reach the majors?
Well, the right-hander already made his Triple-A debut. He spent most of the 2021 season at High-A Greensboro, where he had a solid 3.93 ERA, 4.34 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP. While those numbers might not jump off the page, you have to remember that the average ERA in the Grasshopper’s league was 4.64, with an average of 5+ runs being scored every nine innings.
On the plus side, Mlodzinski had a 30% strikeout rate and a solid 9.4% walk rate. He did have a 1.25 HR/9, though that was roughly league average. Plus, he had a 4.00 xFIP, showing that he could have been better than what the bottom line numbers suggest.
Despite being his first professional season, he is already 23-years-old, partly a by-product of no minor league season in 2020. So having Mlodzinski skip Double-A makes sense, considering he’s at an age where he should start seeing Major League playing time. The only question is, if he does start the year at Indianapolis, when does he make his MLB debut?
Unless injuries force an early call-up, or Mlodzinski is setting Triple-A batters on fire to the point where he forces himself a promotion, I think we’ll likely see him sometime after the trade deadline. Even though Mlodzinski is moving up the system quite fast, you still have to remember that this is just his second season in the professional leagues, and he’s skipping a whole level of the minor leagues.
Not only does this give him a few months of experience in the minors, but also the majors. It prepares Mlodzinski for 2023, when he might take on a more significant role. By 2023, Mlodzinski should help make up a rotation, including him, Roansy Contreras, Miguel Yajure, Mitch Keller, and Zach Thompson.
With Quinn Priester, and a handful of other near-MLB ready names on hand like Michael Burrows, Luis Ortiz, Ricky DeVito, and Adrian Florencio, all of whom should make their MLB debuts late into 2022 or early into 2023, the Pirates have plenty of young arms to rely on over the next two years with Mlodzinski being one of them.