As the organization looks to decide if his long-term future is as a starting pitcher or a relief pitcher, the 2023 season will be an important one for Carmen Mlodzinski
The 2020 MLB Draft will always be one of the most unique in baseball history. It was the only draft that ever took place before a regular season game was played. Additionally, it was a draft that was nearly impossible to scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of baseball.
All of this was due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the COVID draft, players were selected despite minimal updated stats, measurements, and film. In this draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected University of South Carolina pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski 31st overall.
Pittsburgh's decision to draft the right-handed pitcher was a bit of a unique one. While he put up less than impressive numbers in college with the Gamecocks, he had pitched well in Cape Cod League which is something teams always value.
In 2021, Mlodzinski pitched 50.1 innings in 14 starts at the High-A level. With the Greensboro Grasshoppers, he posted a 3.93 ERA and 4.34 FIP, while walking 9.4% of batters faced and striking out 30.0%.
During the 2021 season Mlodzinski also made his debut at the Triple-A level. He made one appearance with the Indianapolis Indians, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Last season, he spent the entire season with Double-A Altoona. Mlodzinski pitched in 27 games, 22 of which were starts. In 105.1 innings pitched he allowed a 4.78 ERA, 3.77 FIP, and an 8.7% walk rate. He struck out 24.1% of batters faced while allowing home runs at a rate of 0.85 HR/9.
The 2022 season was one of ups and downs for Mlodzinski. Following a slow start to the season, he put together a strong stretch in the middle of the season. This was followed with Mlodzinski then struggling down the stretch.
Looking ahead to 2023, the Pirates will need to decide if Mlodzinski's long-term future is as a starter or a reliever. He throws a fastball, slider, and changeup, but his fastball and changeup are both pitches he has struggled with. Due to this, his best long-term home may be as a reliever.
Furthermore, looking at the Pirate organizaiton there appears to be many starting pitchers ahead of Mlodzinski. In addition to Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, and Johan Oviedo who are already entrenched in the majors, Luis Ortiz, Quinn Priester, and Mike Burrows all appear to be ahead of Mlodzinski as well. Anthony Solometo, Kyle Nicolas, and Bubba Chandler could all jump Mlodzinski this season as well.
No matter if he spends most of his time pitching for Altoona, Indianapolis, or a combination of the two, 2023 will be an important season for Mlodzinski. If nothing else, the 2023 season will likely decide if his long-term future with the Pirate organization will be as a starting pitcher or a relief pitcher.