Daniel Poncedeleon wants us to forget. And with every dazzling start, every showcase of his nasty stuff, he takes another step toward accomplishing that. It's a slow transformation, from being known as the pitcher who was struck in the head by a line drive to simply a great pitcher with a traumatic
Daniel Poncedeleon wants us to forget.
And with every dazzling start, every showcase of his nasty stuff, he takes another step toward accomplishing that. It's a slow transformation, from being known as the pitcher who was struck in the head by a line drive to simply a great pitcher with a traumatic accident in his past.
The Cardinals' No. 30 prospect added another defining moment to his spectacular season as the Triple-A All-Star spun a one-hitter for his first career shutout in Triple-A Memphis' 8-0 win over Omaha on Sunday at Werner Park.
"I don't need anyone's sympathy," said Poncedeleon, who struck out five and walked two. "Everyone has been so nice to me already. ... I just try and put that aside. It's not a big deal to me."
What is a big deal is Poncedeleon's breakout season. The 26-year-old ranks second in the Pacific Coast League with a 2.15 ERA and .198 opponents' average in 18 games, including 17 starts for the Redbirds. He pitched a perfect inning in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, navigating the heart of the International League lineup on 15 pitches.
His contract was selected by the Cardinals on June 11, although he didn't pitch for St. Louis. With a second child due in the offseason for Poncedeleon and his wife, Jennifer, the salary bump and the stability of being on the 40-man roster, he considers himself fortunate.
"The 40-man has been just a life-changer for me," Poncedeleon said.
After Ramón Torres doubled with one out in the second and Billy Burns walked with two outs in the third, the right-hander retired the next 18 Storm Chasers. Royals No. 6 prospectNicky Lopez drew a free pass after an eight-pitch at-bat with two outs in the ninth, but Poncedeleon quickly stranded him, inducing a game-ending groundout from Frank Schwindel.
Gameday box score
"I was a little upset that I walked that second-to-last guy," he said. "But I was also really thankful. I had a great defense behind me."
It was the Redbirds' first nine-inning complete-game shutout since Jerome Williams pitched one on June 11, 2016.
Poncedeleon didn't use his curveball on Sunday -- he said he's been throwing that pitch for too many balls lately -- and relied on his cutter and changeup as secondary pitches. It worked wonders for the California native, as he threw 77 of 110 pitches for strikes.
"I was filling up the zone with my fastball and getting guys up and down," he said. "I've gotten a lot of support from friends, family, coaches. ... Our pitching coordinator told me to switch over to a four-seamer this year, so I agreed, and it's done wonders for me. It's changed the way I attacked hitters."
Poncedeleon pitched with a lead almost from the outset as Alex Mejia hit a solo homer with two outs in the second. He also walked and scored three times, while Cardinals No. 6 prospect Max Schrock launched a two-run shot.
Josh Horton is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @joshhorton22