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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Cody Bolton: Slider Control Main Factor In Opening Day Start

After more than two years, Cody Bolton finally took the mound for a regular season game. The 23-year-old former sixth round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2017, Bolton missed all of 2021 after an injury caused him to need season ending surgery before the year even got started. The pandemic canceled out the 2020 season for the right-handed pitcher.

When we last saw Bolton, he blew past Bradenton in 2019 and was able to pitch 40-innings at Double-A Altoona to finish out the season.

Despite being out for so long, and not having an extensive look in Altoona, the Pirates pushed Bolton all the way to Indianapolis to start the 2022 season. Not only that but the team also named him the Opening Day starter.

Working on a strict pitch count, Bolton threw 48 pitches, 31 for strikes. Of the 10 batters he faced, he threw a first pitch strike to seven of them and was able to generate seven whiffs on the night as well (three fastballs, three sliders, one changeup).

You can tell that Bolton was amped up for the night, as he hit as high as 96 mph on his fastball, eventually settling down between 92-93 the rest of his outing.

All in total, Bolton pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowed two hits, one walk and struck out three.

A quick look at the swings and misses that Bolton got, a good blend of location and pitch type. He walked just one, but his fastball wasn’t great, if you were trying to nitpick any part of his night.

Bolton has the ideal frame for a starting pitcher, and he does offer three pitches help him extend out in games he plays in. After seeing how he was able to ramp up the fastball in the first inning, followed him missing the last two years, he could just as easily work from the bullpen, but the Pirates opted to give him as many chances to make up innings as possible.

Maybe the most impressive thing from the start was Bolton’s control of his slider. It wasn’t perfect any means, but if you watch catcher Jason Delay’s glove, he doesn’t have to move it far when Bolton throws his breaking pitch.

This early in the season, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Pirates were cautious with Bolton, or any of their other pitchers. There was a time that Bolton was one of the Pirates top pitching prospects in the system, which he reminded us of that in small stints on Tuesday.

If Bolton can stay healthy, there is no reason to believe that he can’t take back his status, or even become an option to get a call up at some point in the season.

Here’s video of his complete start on Tuesday night.

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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