Carmen Mlodzinski’s career as a South Carolina Gamecock was filled with ups and downs, but on Wednesday night, his baseball career reached its highest point yet.
The former Hilton Head Island High School standout pitcher was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in Competitive Balance Round A, becoming the 31st overall pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft.
He becomes the fifth Seahawk in history to be drafted, the first since Brian Harrison went to the New York Mets in 2010.
Coached by Blair Carson and Ken Soucy at Hilton Head High, Mlodzinski didn’t throw a large amount during his high school career, only around 50 total innings. After spending some time primarily as a shortstop, he found his stuff on the mound and pitched his way to the South Carolina 4A Player of the Year award in 2017.
Mlodzinski was raw coming out of high school, and South Carolina gave him the ideal setup to perfect his mechanics and increase his velocity. In his freshman year as a Gamecock, he appeared in 19 games and started seven. By season’s end he earned a spot in the postseason rotation. He shined even brighter as the pressure mounted, starting and winning the 2018 Greenville Regional championship game.
A broken foot in a contest against Clemson derailed his sophomore campaign, but he fought back to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League the ensuing summer. He didn’t just excel in the league, he dominated, putting up a 1.83 ERA in seven starts along with a phenomenal 40-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio, cementing his solid chances for a high draft selection. Mlodzinski only played in four games before the 2020 season was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but he still amassed 22 strikeouts.
Mlodzinski’s repertoire includes a mid- 90’s fastball, deceiving hitters from the SEC to the Cape with unexpected movement. When he needs a swing and miss, he’ll pull out his cutter, which is just a hair slower than his heater, or a slider in the low 80’s. His improved control, which was shown to the highest degree last summer, will certainly help him on his way up the ladder. In addition, the improvements in his mental game made throughout college should have a positive impact on the outcome of his career.
“I just need to refine my stuff a little bit more, I’ve got a pretty good tool package that I can work with, I just have to continue to refine and get better,” Mlodzinski said prior to the draft on the LowcoSports Lowdown Podcast. “Having more reps will be big for me because I’ve only had one full year as a college pitcher. I’m excited to see what happens and just continue to learn. I think I have a bright future ahead of me,”
We don’t know exactly when Mlodzinski will make his professional debut, but he has landed in a Pittsburgh organization that will give him a real opportunity to make the climb to the major leagues. Even with two of his three seasons as a college pitcher cut short, he is more than ready to take on the challenge of professional ball.
SEAHAWKS IN THE DRAFT
|Randy McGarvey Jr.||2002||26th||Astros|
Story by Wes Kerr / Photo courtesy University of South Carolina Athletics