There is no overlooking the incredible comeback story of Daniel Poncedeleon, who will make his MLB debut tonight as he starts for the St. Louis Cardinals–just a couple of months shy of a year from receiving medical clearance from doctors after a line drive off his skull had put his very life in jeopardy.
But the decision for Poncedeleon to get the start tonight for St. Louis wasn’t based on feel-good emotions, the fact of the matter is Daniel is a talented right-handed pitcher.
In his last outing with Memphis (AAA), Poncedeleon threw a one-hit, complete game, shutout and he has allowed just five hits and zero runs in his last 20 IP overall.
His success in part has been due to expanding his pitching arsenal, which in turn has expanded the zone he can throw to.
“Not only horizontally, but vertically,” shared Poncedeleon in Spring Training. “I started incorporating more four-seams with my curveball, so they kind of come out through the same plane along with my two-seam and cutter. And then I also started throwing my changeup a little bit more, so that started working too.”
Due to his injury, Poncedeleon was able to start his throwing program in early November, which allowed more time to work on pitches, especially that changeup.
“Just gripped it exactly like I would my fastball, but with different fingers,” he explained. “One day, it just was good and I’ll tell ya, I liked that one so I’ll just keep throwing that and it stuck with me better.”
A few weeks later Poncedeleon showed off the pitch during Instructional Camp to pitching coach Mike Maddux.
“He saw one of my changeups and he was like ‘that was pretty good, it’s like a wipeout changeup’,” smiled Daniel. “I was like yeah, I’ve been working on that.”
In 18 games (17 starts) this season for Memphis, Poncedeleon is 9-3 with a 2.15 ERA, 103 Ks, 48 BBs, in 92.0 IP.
To make room on the active roster, the St. Louis Cardinals placed Kolten Wong on the 10-day disabled list with left knee inflammation.
The move is retroactive to July 22nd.
Wong did not appear in yesterday’s series finale at Chicago. He is hitting .216 with 7 home runs and 24 RBI in 91 games this season
photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports, Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com