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Pirates All-40: Carmen Mlodzinski Emerged as High-Leverage Option in Debut Season

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Carmen Mlodzinski

This is one in a series of stories breaking down members of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 40-man roster.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates made right-handed pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski the 31st-overall pick in the 2020 draft, they did so with the intention of using him as a starting pitcher.

That’s what they did with the University of South Carolina product to begin his professional career. With no minor league season the year he was drafted, Mlodzinski wasn’t able to make his professional debut until 2021.

That season, Mlodzinski made 14 starts with High-A Greensboro and made a single appearance with Triple-A Indianapolis. In High-A, Mlodzinski pitched rather well with a 3.93 ERA and 64 punch outs in 50.1 innings pitched.

The following season, Mlodzinski took a drastic step back during his season in Double-A Altoona. The right-hander put up a disappointing 4.78 ERA across 27 appearances/22 starts. While he still registered impressive strikeout totals and did a fairly good job of limited walks and home runs, the Pirates decided to make a chance heading into the 2023 season.

The Pirates bumped the 24-year-old up to Triple-A Indianapolis to begin this past season, but they also shifted Mlodzinski to the bullpen. While with the Pirates’ top minor league affiliate, their decision paid off. Mlodzinski made 20 relief appearances with the Indians and posted a 3.05 ERA.

The Pirates selected Mlodzinski’s contract in the middle of June, and he kept things rolling with the Pirates. In his first season at the major league level, Mlodzinski went 3-3 with a sparkling 2.25 ERA in 35 appearances.

Among the many milestones he checked off during his debut season was his first-career save. In the Pirates thrilling 13-12 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 23, Mlodzinski allowed a run in the ninth inning, but held off the Reds by recording the final three outs of the game.

Mlodzinski’s usage that game, and for a good majority of season, for that matter, paints a picture of how the Pirates’ view him moving forward.

The ninth inning will be anchored by two-time All-Star closer David Bednar, but Mlodzinski could be used in Bednar’s place when needed. In other games, manager Derek Shelton will look to Mlodzinski in high-leverage and late-inning situations.

While Mlodzinski’s original hope of being a starting pitcher is no more, he sure possesses a lot of value for the Pittsburgh Pirates after shining as a rookie in 2023.

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