The remarkable baseball journey of former Hilton Head High and South Carolina Gamecocks star Carmen Mlodzinski has officially reached the pinnacle of the sport.
The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher got the dream call Friday evening when the Pittsburgh Pirates selected his contract from Triple-A Indianapolis and added him to the 40-man roster when left-hander Rob Zastryzny was placed on the 15-day injured list.
The No. 31 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Mlodzinski began his professional career as a starter but made the transition to the bullpen this season and has flourished in a relief role. He is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 19 appearances at Triple-A, recording 31 strikeouts in 25 ⅔ innings, but his performance of late had many Pirates fans clamoring for his call-up to solidify a shaky Pittsburgh bullpen. In 12 outings since April 28, Mlodzinski has pitched 16 ⅔ innings while allowing just four earned runs with 22 strikeouts and five walks.
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Noted by the organization as one of the hardest-working prospects in the system, Mlodzinski will now get his chance to prove himself at the sport’s highest level and deliver a spark to the NL Central-leading Pirates’ bullpen.
Mlodzinski began his high school career at HHIHS as a shortstop before transitioning to his starring role on the mound. He then took his growing talents to Columbia in 2017, quickly earning a spot in the Gamecocks’ rotation. After a foot injury plagued his sophomore season, Mlodzinski recorded a strong 2.84 ERA over 25.1 innings in the 2020 pandemic-shortened campaign before entering the draft.
He’s the first player with Lowco ties to reach “The Show” since 2015 when fellow Seahawk alum Ryan Kelly got the call from the Atlanta Braves. He’ll carry the Lowco flag in the majors that was last held by Beaufort High alum Asher Wojciechowski, who carved out a role with four different teams from 2015 through 2021. Wojciechowski’s best season came in 2019, throwing 82.1 innings with the Baltimore Orioles and recording a 4.92 ERA and 80 strikeouts.
Mlodzinski made his MLB debut Friday night at Milwaukee, punching out Blake Perkins on a called third strike to start the sixth inning before fellow rookie Joey Wiemer took him deep. After a walk, Mlodzinski recorded another strikeout and a grounder back to the mound to get out of the inning, then induced a groundout from Christian Yelich to start the seventh before giving way to Dauri Moreta.
The Pirates play two more games in Milwaukee before returning to Pittsburgh for three with the Chicago Cubs.
By Wes Kerr / LowcoSports.com
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