It’ll be the first call to the Majors for Poncedeleon, who persevered through a frightening head injury that necessitated brain surgery after he was struck in the head by a comeback line drive last May (link via MLB.com’s Jen Langosch). The 26-year-old was a ninth-round pick of the Cards back in 2014.
Poncedeleon made just six starts for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate last season due to that scare, but he’s appeared in a dozen games (11 of them starts) in Memphis this season, pitching to a 2.41 ERA with 10.7 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9 and a 32.4 percent ground-ball rate in 59 2/3 innings. While he’s not considered among the Cardinals’ top couple of tiers of prospects, Poncedeleon received an honorable mention in last year’s rankings from Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, drawing praise for an “above-average downhill fastball, deep-breaking curveball and fading changeup.” Longenhagen’s report notes that there’s a chance Poncedeleon ultimately settles into the bullpen.
[Related: Updated St. Louis Cardinals depth chart]
For the Cardinals, Poncedeleon will give them another option both in the rotation and in the bullpen following some injury woes in both regards. St. Louis recently lost Alex Reyes for the season and is uncertain as to when Adam Wainwright will be healthy enough to return, though the team still has a strong rotation mix of Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Luke Weaver, Michael Wacha and Jack Flaherty. But relievers Matt Bowman, Greg Holland, Tyler Lyons, Luke Gregerson and Dominic Leone are all also on the disabled list, so Poncedeleon replenishes some needed depth for their staff.