CODY BOLTON, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: June 19, 1998
Drafted: 6th Round, 178th Overall, 2017
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Tracy HS (CA)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The Pirates drafted Bolton as a projectable high school pitcher from California. His fastball at the time of the draft sat at 91-93 MPH, touching 94, and he throws from a three-quarters arm slot. MLB Pipeline noted that he threw a tight slider and had a feel for a changeup, giving him a solid three-pitch mix already when drafted. Baseball America considered his slider to be an above average offering. By 2019, Bolton was throwing 93-96, reaching 97, and also throws a slider and change. Bolton had a commitment to the University of Michigan and BA thought he’d be a tough sign, but the Pirates signed him two weeks after the draft for only a modest amount above the slot value. BA ranked him 414th overall among their top 500 draft talents.
Bolton put up good numbers in his debut, particularly his walk rate.
The usual course for the Pirates’ prep pitching draftees is to head to Bristol the year after they’re drafted, but Bolton impressed the Pirates so much in extended spring training that they sent him to West Virginia in late May. He started nine games before being shut down in mid-July with forearm soreness. The Pirates described the issue as minor at the time, but he didn’t return and ended up having a PRP injection. Bolton pitched very well, not giving up a run until his fourth start. He had strong numbers across the board, except for a minor issue with gopher balls, as he allowed six. He had a modest platoon split, allowing an OPS of .747 to left-handed batters and just .662 to right-handed.
Bolton moved up to Bradenton and took another big step forward. He dominated the Florida State League through a dozen starts, when the Pirates promoted him to Altoona. He had a lot more trouble in the Eastern League, although he pitched better than his ERA; his xFIP was 4.02. Bolton was hurt by a very low strand rate in AA of 60.5%, although he also had some gopher ball problems. He allowed one HR better than every seven innings in AA after giving up just one total in the FSL. He had no meaningful platoon split. The Pirates had Bolton on a limited pitch count to keep his workload down, leading to a few shortened outings in games in which he was pitching well. They also shut him down in mid-August.
Bolton produced mixed reviews during the summer camp at Altoona and, according to some reports, his velocity was down.
Bolton suffered a knee injury and ultimately needed surgery, costing him the entire season.
Bolton had a good season with Indianapolis. He alternated between starting and relieving, making 14 starts and 16 relief appearances. There wasn’t a lot of distinction between the two, as Bolton seldom worked more than three innings in a start. He went four on three occasions and five once. He finished with just 7.2 IP more as a starter. For the year, he held opponents Bolton held opponents to a 207/316/307 line. When he had trouble, it often stemmed from walks. Bolton missed most of July with an injury, but otherwise stayed healthy.
Bolton’s usage in 2022 suggests the Pirates see him as a reliever going forward, but they haven’t made any firm pronouncements on the issue. Considering that they had one of the two or three worst bullpens in baseball in 2022, he should get a serious shot at making the team in spring 2023. They’ll have to add him to the 40-man roster in the fall to avoid losing him in the Rule 5 draft. That should be an easy decision, as Bolton offers more promise, short- and long-term, than most of the relievers currently on the roster.
|2023: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $300,000
MiLB Debut: 2017
MiLB FA Eligible: 2023
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2021
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 13, 2017: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 6th round, 178th overall pick; signed on June 27.|