Milwaukee Brewers’ RHP Cody Ponce Could Ascend Quickly

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The 2015 MLB Draft is officially on the books. With Ray Montgomery at the helm as Scouting Director for his first draft with the Milwaukee Brewers, the franchise added several young, high ceiling talents to the farm system. Montgomery built a reputation while in Arizona for finding hidden value in his draft picks, and the 2015 draft was no exception.

With the 55th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Brewers selected their second pitcher, right hander Cody Ponce out of Division II Cal Poly Pomona. Ponce was a highly regarded prospect before the draft, ranking number 36 according to Baseball America was projected by some as a late first round pick. Ponce had a few minor injuries this year, causing his pre-draft stock to drop slightly, but nothing arm-related that should be of much concern.

Ponce first burst on to the scene pitching for Brewster and making Cape Cod League all-star team last summer. The 21 year old, who is an imposing figure on the mound at 6’6″ and 240 lbs, continued that success into a dominant 2015. In 62.1 innings for the Broncos, Ponce gave up just 10 earned runs (1.44 ERA) while striking out 67 and walking 14. For the second consecutive season, Ponce did not allow a home run.

Ponce made several encouraging strides from his sophomore to junior seasons. He was able to cut his walk total by better than half (29 in 75 innings in 2014) while also increasing his strikeouts by over three batters per nine innings. Ponce should continue to progress under professional coaching, and could be a quick riser through the system.

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Cody attacks hitters with a four pitch arsenal, featuring three offering which project as plus or better. After arriving on campus in 2013, Ponce worked diligently to add some weight to his wiry frame, and the result is a power fastball that can touch 96 MPH, though it generally sits from 92-94. Location will be key for Ponce, as his fastball tends to stay straight. Still, it projects as a potential 70 grade offering. Ponce also throws a low 90s, tight-breaking cutter that he uses well to play up his fastball and grades at a potential 65.

As far as offspeed stuff goes, Ponce possesses a possible plus changeup (in the low 80s with swing-and-miss potential) and an average curveball with an 11-5 shape that sits between 79-81. Cody needs some work on repeating his delivery, but given his big build, he projects as a durable innings eater at the very least. Ponce has been projected as a number three type starter, but could be a fringe number two if he can further refine his offspeed pitches.

Cody Ponce signed with the Brewers soon after being drafted, and will be officially introduced before tonight’s game at Miller Park. He will likely report to the Brewers rookie league affiliate in Helena to begin his career, where he should slot right into the starting rotation.

Though he needs some refinement, Cody Ponce could be a pitcher who ascends quickly through Milwaukee’s minor league system given his makeup and dominating success in college. Once seen as devoid of pitching, it now appears that the Brewers farm system has several young, talented arms that project to one day pitch in the big leagues. Featuring a hard fastball and two other possible plus offerings among his four pitch arsenal, it’s not hard to envision Ponce reaching his upside as a number two starter and serving as an anchor in the Brewers’ rotation for years to come.

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