Cody Bolton has been arguably the most effective pitcher in the Florida State League this season. For one week, he's inarguably an award winner in the Class A Advanced circuit.
The Pirates' No. 27 prospect has been named FSL Pitcher of the Week after tossing a career-high-tying seven scoreless innings for Class A Advanced Bradenton at Clearwater last Monday. He struck out seven, scattered three hits without walking a batter and threw 61 of his 90 pitches for strikes in the Marauders' 1-0 win to claim the first weekly award of his career.
Though it marked a few firsts and bests, Bolton's gem was just his latest to begin the season with Bradenton. The 20-year-old right-hander has yet to allow more than one earned run or four hits in any of his six starts this year. His 0.77 ERA tops the Florida State League and ranks fourth among the 399 qualified pitchers across the Minors. (He's the youngest among those in the top 10.) He also leads the FSL with a 0.77 WHIP and ranks third with a .159 average-against, sixth with a 5.1 K/BB ratio and seventh with a 27.1 percent strikeout rate.
• View the Offensive Player of the Week winners »
The numbers come as a bit of a surprise, considering the Marauders starter was limited to only 44 1/3 innings at Class A West Virginia last season and didn't pitch in an official game after July 19 due to forearm tightness.
"I thought I was going to be going down to [Class A] Greensboro, sending me back to where I left last season," Bolton told MiLB.com's Brian Stultz after last Monday's outing. "Then I came out throwing really well in Spring Training and got sent to Bradenton, which was awesome, especially being able to dominate so far."
The 6-foot-3 hurler was taken in the sixth round of the 2017 Draft coming out of Tracy (California) High School and has four solid pitches in his four-seamer, two-seamer, slider and changeup. That arsenal, combined with impressive control, has held opposing batters in the Sunshine State off-balance in the early stages of 2019. The test remains staying healthy, but Bolton feels he's well-conditioned to keep any injury issues in his past.
"I did a bunch of arm-care stuff and keeping the strength built up in my elbow and forearm," Bolton said last week. "It was pretty easy getting back to where I was last year. I definitely think that doing all of that stuff during the offseason, I got a lot stronger than I was last year."
2019 MiLB include
Of note, six of the top seven hurlers in Minor League ERA this season have already played for multiple affiliates because of their dominance, with Bolton the only one to pitch for only one team thus far. That may continue to be the case for some time, given his age and relative inexperience on a Minor League mound. But no matter the next step, Bolton couldn't be happier with the first steps he's taken in 2019.
"Going out on the mound, knowing what I can do and being able to execute what I've been taught and learned, it boosts the confidence," he said last week.
Below is the complete list of Minor League Pitchers of the Week for May 6-12:
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HPB, 4 BB, 10 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
||1-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
||2-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 BB, 11 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
||0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K