The Padres have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Blake Cederlind, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). The Pirates released Cederlind in late May after he struggled through six frames with their Class-A affiliate.
Cederlind, 27, was a fifth-round pick by Pittsburgh back in 2016 who pitched his way into prospect status with excellent 2018 and 2019 showings at the minor league level. The Bucs gave him his big league debut in the shortened 2020 season. The 6’3″ flamethrower with a power sinker pitched four solid innings across five games, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Unfortunately, that’s the last time Cederlind set foot on a big league mound. He underwent Tommy John surgery the following spring, wiping out his entire 2021 season and a portion of his 2022 campaign. During what was supposed to be his comeback year, Cederlind required a second surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow. He didn’t throw a pitch in the majors or minors from 2021-22.
Despite Cederlind’s struggles this season — nine runs on six hits, six walks and two hit batters in six innings — the mere fact that he was able to take the mound is a sign of some encouragement. He fanned six of his 31 opponents in A-ball and kept the ball on the ground at a strong 50% clip. Obviously, there are some worrying command issues at play, but that’s not exactly unexpected on the heels of a two-year absence owing to multiple elbow surgeries.
Cederlind has a long road to get back to the Majors, but based on his history when healthy, it’s easy enough to see why the Padres are interested in taking a no-risk flier. Prior to his surgeries, Cederlind sat in the upper 90s with his sinker and was able to reach triple digits. He’s only had six innings of experience in Triple-A thanks to the canceled minor league season in 2020, but he overwhelmed Double-A opponents with a 1.77 ERA, 22.7% strikeout rate, 8.6% walk rate and 48.3% ground-ball rate. It’s not yet clear to which affiliate they’ll sign Cederlind.