Cody Bolton Is A Spin Rate Master

One of the more intriguing prospects to watch going into the 2022 season was Cody Bolton. A former top-10 prospect in the system, Bolton hadn’t played a regular season minor league game in two years due to the pandemic and an injury suffered at the beginning of the 2021 season.

Given the push to Indianapolis this year, after just 40 innings of Double-A back in 2019, Bolton has responded and has been the most consistent starting pitcher in the Indians’ rotation.

The Pirates have been cautious with him coming back, putting him on a strict pitch count for much of the season, although in his last start he threw a season high 91-pitches.

One of the biggest things that stands out with Bolton, at least statistically, has been the insane spin rate numbers he’s put up.

While Baseball Savant doesn’t track too many Triple-A games, it was able to grab one of Bolton’s starts back in early May. Overall, it wasn’t his best start, but a look over at his Statcast numbers and the metrics were off the charts for the righty.


Velocity 93.36 mph
Spin Rate 2483.27
Vertical Break 17.45
Horizontal Break 5.4
Whiff% 21.4%
Usage 33%

When it comes to his fastball and sinker, this was one of his most encouraging starts just based on the consistent velocity towards the mid-90s. There have been starts this season where he’d get down closer to 90-91 mph by the end of his starts.

Bolton’s fastball average 93.3 mph on May 11 against the Charlotte Knights and reached as high as 95 during the outing. He used the pitch 33% of the time, and averaged 2483 rpm on it. Looking at the major league leaders for spin rate for the same pitch, Bolton would rank in the top 15 in the majors among all pitchers to throw at least 250 fastballs this season.


Velocity 88.43 mph
Spin Rate 2619 rpm
Vertical Break 29.7
Horizontal Break 2.6
Whiff% 0%
Usage 15%

Bolton doesn’t use the cutter often but did so early in the counts. It shows good vertical break, but didn’t throw it for strikes as much, at least in this start. The spin rate would put him in the top five among all major league pitchers who have thrown at least 250 cutters.

Looking at the video of the pitch, Bolton likes to throw it to righties, either up in the zone or away. He was able to get a hitter to pop out and later got a batter to strike out looking.


Velocity 93.6 mph
Spin Rate 2469.5 rpm
Vertical Break 23.57
Horizontal Break 10.21
Whiff% 0%
Usage 21.2%

This was an intriguing pitch for Bolton to watch as the game unfolded. He was able to run it up under the hands of lefties, trying to hit the corner of the strike zone. Bolton also used it to run away from lefties and go in on righties.

Able to control a pitch with that kind of break on both sides of the plate is impressive and the spin rate again would make it a top-10 major league pitch in that category. He had three separate instances where he hit the 3000-rpm mark on the sinker alone and ran the velocity up to 94 or 95 mph each time.


Velocity 82.74 mph
Spin Rate 2686
Vertical Break 38.5
Horizontal Break 10.05
Whiff% 45.45%
Usage 30%

This is Bolton’s best pitch, and we got a good showing as to why. The Knights hitters missed the pitch nearly half of the times they swung at it, and the average slider movement is very similar to another one of the Pirates top prospects.

Bolton’s slider averaged 38.5 inches of break against Charlotte that game, with Roansy Contreras holding a similar 38.4-mark.

He did struggle with the control early on, but when he got it spinning, it was a tough pitch to hit. The spin rate on the slider wouldn’t be in the top-10 or top-15 like the rest of his pitches, but still was a top-35 pace in the game.

Final Look

Bolton is reminding every why he was once a top-10 prospect in the Pirates system. The control could be a little better, as Bolton is walking 13% of the batters he’s faced, which is by far the highest mark of his career.

Still, Bolton has been one of the better starting pitchers in the upper levels, striking out 41 in 32 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .178 average.

While spin rates aren’t the end-all, be-all, they do give a good indicator of just how good a pitcher’s ‘stuff’ is. It may have only been one start we got the numbers from, but judging by how well the rest of the season has gone, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they told the same story.


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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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another mistake the pirates were going to make to leave him available for the rule 5 draft this year. Luckily the draft did not take place.


Prior to the injury and covid he was one of our top arms coming up. The fact that he is knocking on the door and is handling the pressure well so far is a good thing. He isn’t even doing it with his prior fast ball speed. If he can get back to a more consistent 95 mph with everything else and get his walks down a bit, he will be helpful to the big club sooner then later.


great breakdown, love these articles. Hope he stay healthy.
Im glad to see more of our pitchers rediscover the sinker. I know it went out of style, but is still a great weapon, especially if you are able to command it like Bolton did in the videos above.

Last edited 1 year ago by PirateRican21
Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Love his slider. If he finds his velo again, consistently, I think we got a potential gem sandwiched between all the high profile arms.


After almost 2 years away (’20 and ’21) I hope that he does not push it too much this year trying to find that 98 mph. I started out this year hoping that he and Burrows would have solid years, and possibly be in PNC by the end of 2022. I think that is still a possibility.

Is it me, or are the umpires at AAA not calling strikes on pitches that are above the waist, but still well within the zone?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

MiLB umps seem to be very off and on. But it’s also hard to tell with the often off-center camera angles.


For a team that is really lacking viable pitching depth moving forward, it would be hugely beneficial of Bolton emerged as a solid or better option!


Given his control issues and need to limit innings this year, perhaps a clean inning relief role in MLB.


That definitely makes sense for this year, which that alone would be a big boost. Sounds like a future in the rotation certanily isn’t out of the question though!


“Bolton would rank in the top 15 in the majors among all pitchers to throw at least 250 fastballs this season” 👀


Good stuff. Definitely looks like SP depth at the minimum for later this year and a contender for OD rotation next year.

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