About 21 months ago, Daniel Poncedeleon was sitting in a hospital room after having an emergency craniotomy to relieve swelling and bleeding on his brain after a line drive connected with his skull.
Poncedeleon wasn’t just fighting for his career, he was fighting for his life. He recovered through the rest of 2017 and started 2018 with the Memphis Redbirds as he attempted to make a comeback to baseball. In his time in Memphis in 2018, Daniel went 9-4 with a 2.42 ERA to go with 110 strikeouts in 96.1 innings at Triple A.
Daniel was called up once in June but didn’t see any action in that first move up to the Cardinals. His next call-up would come a month later, when he would make his MLB debut against the Cincinnati Reds. That pitch-count-limited-start on July 23rd saw Poncedeleon throw seven no-hit innings while striking out and walking three a piece in his first MLB action.
The rest of his time with the Cardinals saw him shift into the bullpen with 10 more appearances in 26 innings. Overall, in his 33 innings pitched, Daniel struck out 31, walked 13, and gave up 24 hits.
Poncedeleon’s role is uncertain at this point, as he is projected by some to be a fourth or fifth starter down the road but probably a bullpen pitcher at the major league level right now. It’s very likely that he sees time in both Triple A and in St. Louis again, but its not known for now exactly what the plans are for him in 2019.
All of this for a pitcher that coming into 2018 couldn’t even crack the top 20 or 30 in most top Cardinals prospect lists and less than two years ago sat in intensive care recovering from a horrific injury. Regardless of where Daniel ends up, its an amazing story nonetheless.