BRADENTON, Fla. – The Pirates took a high upside arm in the fifth round this year, drafting hard throwing right-handed pitcher Blake Cederlind out of Merced College. The second year JuCo pitcher has the ability to sit 92-95 MPH, touching 97. He does have control issues, and lacks good secondary stuff, making him a high risk to go with the high reward.
“He’s got a live arm. It was up to 96, 97,” Bristol Manager Kory DeHaan said of Cederlind last week. “It’s a bigger arm, and with the development of him building confidence in what he’s got — it’s a little of a spray sometimes right now, but at least it’s there.”
Cederlind made six starts with Bristol, putting up a 4.67 ERA in 17.1 innings. His final outing came on July 23rd, and he was shut down after that with forearm tightness. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem too serious, as he is already throwing again, with his first bullpen session at Pirate City coming this past Thursday.
“It doesn’t seem to be too serious, but I’ve logged a lot of innings this past college season, and halfway through this season,” Cederlind said. “It could be fatigue. I’m down here strengthening and conditioning.”
At this point, Cederlind won’t be able to return for any games this season. He will throw a bullpen on Monday and Thursday of the upcoming week, then will go home for a week or two. After that, he will return for instructs and see how the arm feels. If all goes well, he could pitch during instructs.
Despite the lack of innings, Cederlind felt he made progress in his time in Bristol. He had a rough start, but finished strong, throwing nine shutout innings in his final two starts, with six hits, four walks, and six strikeouts. He was set to make another start, but his forearm was tight, and he couldn’t get loose in the warm ups, leading to his season ending.
“I think they were going well,” Cederlind said of the starts. “I had one outing I had to fight back, but my last two there I just started throwing the ball well. It was a bummer I had that forearm flare up.”
The biggest improvement Cederlind saw was with his changeup. He didn’t really have much of a changeup when he came in, but put a big focus on the pitch.
“I came in without a changeup, and one of my big focuses was developing a changeup,” Cederlind said. “That turned out to be one of my best pitches in those few starts I got.”
He previously threw a split changeup, which isn’t advised, as it’s a pitch that can put strain on the forearm. When he got to Bristol, he worked with pitching coach Jason Erickson on a new grip, settling on a circle changeup. It took a few weeks for him to get comfortable with the pitch, but he said he’s at a good place with it now after getting reps, throwing it a lot, and sticking with the same grip.
“I threw a lot to the backstop and 55 footers,” Cederlind said. “I got a good feel for it now.”
The changeup will certainly help off-set Cederlind’s fastball command issues going forward. He also throws a slider and a curveball. He could still return and pitch during instructs, which would help the development of his pitches even more. Either way, expect him to go to West Virginia next year, where he will be an arm to watch throughout the year.