BLAKE CEDERLIND, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: January 14, 1996
Drafted: 5th Round, 165th Overall, 2016
How Acquired: Draft
College: Merced College (JC)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Drafted after his second year of junior college, Cederlind is considered high-risk/high-reward. His fastball when he was drafted came in at 92-95, reaching 97, and by 2018 he was hitting 100 mph occasionally. He originally threw a slider and curve. He didn’t really have a change when drafted, but the Pirates immediately started working with him on developing one. By 2019 he was throwing a slider and change, but both need to improve, which probably explains his K rates not being what you’d expect given his stuff. Cederlind had control issues in JC ball. Baseball America did not include him in its list of the top 500 draft prospects. Following a poor first season, Cederlind was Merced’s best pitcher in 2016. In 57.2 IP, he allowed only 37 hits and struck out 63, but he walked 34. He had a commitment to the University of California, Davis, but signed with the Pirates for $33,800 under the slot amount.
Cederlind went to Bristol and made six starts, but his season ended early due to forearm tightness that the Pirates didn’t consider serious. He was erratic when he pitched, but mostly fared well. He had one start in which he gave up five earned runs in a third of an inning.
Cederlind was healthy in spring training and was sitting in the mid-90s, reaching 97 mph. He moved up to West Virginia and pitched in a piggybacking arrangement, sometimes starting and sometimes in long relief. He got passable results in April and May, but command and control problems mounted starting in June. He struggled badly through mid-July before the Pirates shut him down for three weeks. He came back in August, pitching in just one-inning stints, and continued to struggle. His monthly opponents’ OPS:
The Pirates sent Cederlind back to West Virginia and he seemingly turned things completely around. Opponents batted just .208 against him and his walk and K rates were outstanding. At mid-season, the Pirates promoted him to Bradenton and things fell apart. Opponents battered him for a .302 average and he couldn’t throw strikes.
Cederlind returned to Bradenton and made seven appearances. Despite some control problems, the Pirates promoted him to Altoona. Pitching more often than not in short relief, he made a lot of progress with his control. His K rate was solid but not quite what you’d expect given his velocity, which may point to needed improvements in his secondary stuff. The Pirates moved him up to Indianapolis near the end of the season and he made three appearances that didn’t go well. On the season, Cederlind was deadly against right-handed batters, holding them to a 168/262/196 line. Left-handed batters did a lot better, at 252/352/396.
Cederlind was eligible for the Rule 5 draft, so the Pirates added him to the 40-man roster in the off-season. Given the bullpen injuries the Pirates had, he might have gotten considerable time with them during the pandemic season, but he tested positive during camp. He came up late in the season and made five appearances, mostly pitching well. His velocity drew some attention, with his fastball averaging just under 99 mph. As a secondary pitch he threw a cutter.
Cederlind had a chance to make the team in spring training, but injured his arm and, unfortunately, had Tommy John surgery.
Expected to return at some point in the season, Cederlind suffered a setback during rehab and received a platelet-rich plasma injection in May. He was still expected to return during the year, but never made it back to game action.
Cederlind has established the ability to be a late-inning reliever for the Pirates, but going into 2022 they reportedly intended to try him as a starter when he returned from the surgery. It’s impossible to say where those plans stand now, but he’s expected to be ready for spring training in 2023. More importantly, the Pirates outrighted Cederlind off the 40-man roster after the 2022 season. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Indy.