Mlodzinski (pronounced ma-Jinsk-ee) should be a quick mover in any team’s system. He doesn’t have a great track record if you just look at his stats after having his sophomore season cut short due to a broken foot, but he still has immense upside. The makers of the mocks have been overlooking him recently but let’s take a look at what makes Mlodzinski a special talent.
With the MLB Draft approaching, it’s time to start looking at some potential picks the Royals could end up making. I’ll profile one player every day excluding Sunday leading up until the draft assuming it happens June 10 like the rumors have reported. Some of these players will not be available to the Royals, but players drop and players move up when the picks actually start happening.
MLB had announced that the Draft would take place in Omaha coinciding with the College World Series Opening weekend this year. This was the first Draft that fans would actually be attending and Alex and I had a hotel room booked overlooking the stadium and planned to be in the thick of the action. However, we all know how plans have changed with the devastation the Coronavirus pandemic has unleashed on the globe. In response, the NCAA canceled their season, the CWS, and MLB moved the draft to a virtual format.
Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
After his broken foot in 2019, Mlodzinski bounced back well as a Falmouth Commodore in the Cape and was masterful in his first several starts in 2020. He has been described as a tireless worker and as someone who will work harder than any other player on the team.
Mlodzinski uses a simple delivery from the third base side of the rubber. He has a little bit of a pause after his rocker step creating a deliberate pause in his delivery. Mlodzinski has short and quick arm action. He is a very good athlete and fields his position extremely well. Coaches have called him someone who takes it seriously in PFPs and is a tireless worker when doing them.
Mlodzinski throws four pitches and routinely pounds the strike zone. He throws a fastball that has tremendous movement, a change up, slider, and a cutter. Mlodzinski’s fastball has wicked movement. He gets a lot of ground balls with this 93 to 97 mph 4-seam sinker. He often gets in on right-handed hitters resulting in weak contact. As one of my former coaches put it, Mlodzinski “can get in the kitchen, open the cabinets, and break all the dishes”.
Because Mlodzinski has a fastball with tremendous movement, you would expect his change up to have similar movement and this proves to be true. Left-handed hitters are routinely fooled by the pitch and chase it off the outside portion of the plate. Mlodzinski can, and does, use this as a swing and miss pitch resulting in strikeouts, especially against the left-handed hitters.
Mlodzinski also throws a cutter which is a tremendous compliment to his fastball. The pitch is slower than his fastball working 88-91, but also darts away from a right-handed hitter. Mlodzinski used the pitch as a chase pitch to right-handed hitters and as a jam pitch to left-handed batters. After a lefty starts cheating to get the fastball moving away from him, Mlodzinski will throw the cutter down and in on his hands typically resulting in a weak grounder to second base.
Mlodzinski also throws a slider. This pitch is different from his cutter although he throws it hard and it has a little bit of the same movement profile. His college coaches call pitches and they didn’t use it much in the starts I’ve watched. I would love to see him use this pitch more in pro ball because it is very good. The slider is low-80s topping out at 83 that I saw in the 2020 spring season. He threw it away from right-handed hitters as a swing and miss pitch. Mlodzinski also used it as a pitch at their body freezing them inside resulting in a called strike.
Mlodzinski seems to have a little bit of a free spirit sporting some good flow from the back of his cap. He smiles often and jokes with his teammates even while on the field in the midst of pressure packed situations. He doesn’t have a full beard but leaves some stubble on his face. Mlodzinski is a very good student and has been on the honor roll multiple years in college. He seems to fit the entertainment part of his Sport and Entertainment Management degree.
One knock on Mlodzinski is that he gives up a lot of contact. If his stuff isn’t on in a particular start, he may struggle. However, this is part of Mlodzinski’s charm. He uses all his pitches to create contact resulting in quick at bats allowing him to go deep in games. This keeps his defense engaged and more prepared to make a play.
Mlodzinski is a guy who pounds the strike zone, is ahead of almost every hitter he faces even in the SEC, and has a multitude of ways to put hitters away. He generates ground balls at a high rate and seems to have a personality that will succeed in any situation.
If the Royals take him, Mlodzinski slots into a group of very talented future starting pitchers. He isn’t going to be the top of the list, but he will be right there in discussion with all of those guys. You can make an argument for him versus every pitching prospect in the Royals system. At the very beginning of the college season, everyone had him as a top 10 pick. Now, Perfect Game mocked him to the Braves at 25th overall and Baseball America has him dropping out of the first round completely. If Mlodzinski is there at 32, the Royals need to take him. This type of innings eating NCAA starter will be very valuable in pro ball and seems to be currently overlooked by people dreaming of 99 percentile upside on uber athletes. If Mlodzinski can just reach 75 percent of his potential, you have a 180 inning guy at the MLB level. This seems to have become an expected floor versus obscene upside argument. To me with your second pick, you should take the solid MLB guy if you know he is there.
Image from the Post and Courier newspaper taken by Andrew Whitaker.