With their third pick of the 2015 MLB draft, and the 55th pick overall, the Milwaukee Brewers have chosen right-handed pitcher Cody Ponce out of Cal Poly Pomona, a division two college.
Ponce is going to be a work in progress as he's still working on his secondary offerings. However, he stands at 6'5" and 235 pounds with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, so he's big and projectionable. He's been praised as having very high upside and, at the very least, could find success in a major league bullpen as long as he finds some success with his non-fastball pitches.
This year, Ponce has made 12 starts in 13 appearances as a junior. He has a 1.44 ERA while holding opponents to just a .233 batting average. Over 62.1 innings, he's notched 67 strikeouts to just 14 walks; a 9.67 K/9 and 2.02 BB/9. As a freshman, he mostly pitched in relief but had a 2.23 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 48.1 frames. His sophomore season saw him mostly start and, while his 2.48 ERA was still great, his strikeouts were not as good as the other two seasons: 49 Ks to 27 walks in nearly 73 innings.
Ponce had a sore shoulder this spring that kept him out for three weeks, but a strong season for Cal Poly Pomona so far should help alleviate fear that the injury will hurt him long-term. He also has dealt with biceps tendinitis in the past.
Minor League Ball has a great look at his pitching motion that I recommend you read.
Along with what should be a strong fastball (so long as he avoids leaving it too straight), Ponce also works in a cutter (that apparently looks a bit like a slider) and a change-up. Again, both those pitches reportedly need some work if they're going to play professionally. He also works in the occasional curve, though the Brewers may have him work on just a few pitches in his first dose of the minor leagues.
Ponce seems to have a real strength in pounding the strike zone, but that could get him in trouble if his fastball doesn't pick up more movement or if his other pitches don't improve. There had been some talks of Ponce being a first rounder, and so far the Brewers' selection of him has garnered praise already. He'll definitely need some work but is certainly someone who could be of strong value for the Brewers.
Ponce is the fifth-highest selection to ever come out of Cal Poly Pomona. Three players were chosen from the school last year, but none higher than the 23rd round. The best to come out of CPP is probably Wayne Gross, a first baseman who had a career 233/.337/.395 batting line over 11 years with the Athletics and Orioles in the 70s and 80s.
This is the final pick of the night for the Brewers, though the draft will resume tomorrow. Slot for pick number 55 is recommended to be $1,108,000.