Cody Ponce

Born: April 25, 1994
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 240
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 2nd Round, 55th Overall, 2015 (Brewers)
How Acquired: Trade (from Brewers for Jordan Lyles)
College: California Polytechnic State University
Agent: N/A


Ponce is a very big righty whom the Brewers drafted in the second round.  Originally a starter, he featured four pitches:  a fastball that he threw in the mid-90s, a cutter that’s his out pitch against left-handed hitters, a curve and a change that wasn’t regarded as very effective.  He made slow progress through the Brewers’ system, getting generally uninspiring results.  For the most part, he’s had very good control and somewhat low K rates.  Ponce eventually started toning down his velocity to the low-90s to improve his command, but ultimately the Brewers moved him to relief.  His velocity at that point moved back up to the mid-90s and his cutter and curve, both considered just average pitches, were aided.  He’s not especially a groundball pitcher and hasn’t had a platoon split.  The Pirates acquired him at the 2019 trade deadline for Jordan Lyles.

R+:  0-0-0, 3.60 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 5.0 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
A:  2-1-3, 2.15 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 46.0 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 7.0 K/9

The Brewers sent Ponce initially to advanced rookie ball, but after two appearances he moved up to full season ball.  Splitting his time between starting and relief, he got good results, showing strong control, although his K rate wasn’t great.  Baseball America rated him the Brewers’ ninth best prospect after the season.

A+:  2-8-0, 5.25 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 72.0 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 8.6 K/9

Despite moving to the pitching-dominated Florida State League, Ponce had a rough time.  He missed the first two months with arm trouble and never caught up.  BA still rated him 16th in the system.

A+:  8-8-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 120.0 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
AA:  2-1-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 4.6 K/9

The Brewers sent Ponce back to high A, although this time their affiliate was in the Carolina League.  He had a better season, but not as good as the ERA indicates; nearly a third of the runs he allowed were unearned.  He made three starts in AA at the end of the season.  BA ranked him 18th in the system.

AA:  7-6-0, 4.36 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 95.0 IP, 3.2 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

Ponce spent the entire season in AA, initially as a starter but eventually moving to relief.  He got only decent results, with opponents posting a .712 OPS against him.  BA rated him 27th in Milwaukee’s system after the season.  He was eligible for the Rule 5 draft but was not selected.

AA (Mil):  1-3-1, 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 38.1 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 10.3 K/9
AA:  0-0-1, 6.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 6.0 IP, 1.5 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
AAA:  1-3-0, 5.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 9.6 K/9

Ponce went back to AA and pitched entirely in relief.  He made improvements, especially with his K rate, and opponents had a .632 OPS against him.  The Brewers traded him to the Pirates at the deadline, who initially sent him to Altoona.  He made two relief appearances there, then moved to the rotation and, after one start, moved up to Indianapolis.  He made four starts there, pitching poorly in three of them.  On the whole season he significantly increased his K rate.

The Pirates’ decision to move Ponce to starting was curious, given that he hasn’t shown much promise as a starter.  Whether a new front office will use him as a starter or reliever, though, remains to be seen.  They did add him to the 40-man roster.

2020: Major league minimum
Signing Bonus: $1,108,000
MiLB Debut: 2015
MLB Debut: 8/2/2020
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2025
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2019
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
June 8, 2015: Drafted by the Milwaukee in the 2nd round, 55th overall pick; signed on June 15.
July 29, 2019: Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jordan Lyles.
November 20, 2019: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.