With the sheer number of pitching prospects that began the year with Altoona, it became obvious that the Pirates were going to have to get creative with their staff.
While injuries have thinned out that group — Quinn Priester is currently among that group and has yet to play a game this season — they are still looking to get creative with how they deploy their pitching staff.
After Tahnaj Thomas moved to the bullpen this year, he got his first start of the season against Bowie on Sunday.
They utilized him as an opener for Carmen Mlodzinski, who came out of the bullpen for the second time in his professional career.
Mlodzinski pitched four innings, allowing three hits, one run, and struck out five batters in what was his best outing of the season.
Since being taken with 31st overall pick in 2020, Mlodzinski has struggled to find consistency at the pro level. The issues really came to the front after missing about a month worth of games last year with Greensboro. When he returned, he posted an ERA of 9.53 and 9.82 in the two months following the injury.
Beginning this year in Altoona, Mlodzinski gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first start. While he has shown flashes (4 IP, H, BB, 2 K on April 26), it’s been largely a disappointing season for the righty.
Sunday was by far a much better outing for Mlodzinski, and with the success it does raise the question on how best he can be utilized.
It will be interesting to see how Altoona continues to deploy Mlodzinski, who looked like he had been in desperate need of a spark of any sort.
If Mlodzinski ends up clicking coming out of the bullpen in longer stints, it will be another example what exactly the minor leagues can be used for: To work on things till they click.
The goal is to find the best fit for each player, and they may have come across the right one for Mlodzinski.
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