Poised to go early in the 2017 Draft after a big summer in the Cape Cod League, Bielak got hit hard as a Notre Dame junior and slid to the Astros in the 11th round. He found immediate success in pro ball, posting a 0.80 ERA in his debut and leading the system with a 2.23 mark in his first full season. He reached Triple-A last June and thrived after an early adjustment period.
Bielak's repertoire begins with a 91-93 mph four-seam fastball that tops out at 95 and features high spin rates that create riding life. His most reliable offering is a circle changeup that helped him limit left-handers to a .177 average in his first three pro seasons. Houston has helped him improve the spin and shape of both of his breaking pitches, switching him from a traditional to a spike curveball and tightening up his slider.
The whole of Bielak's arsenal is greater than the sum of its parts, none of which grades as a plus pitch. But he keeps hitters off balance by sequencing his offerings well and avoids getting into trouble with walks or home runs. With a durable build and a high arm slot that creates downhill plane, he projects as a possible No. 4 starter.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Notre Dame right-handers Peter Solomon and Bielak positioned themselves to go early in the 2017 Draft with strong summers in the Cape Cod League, only to see their stock drop after disappointing junior seasons. The Astros pounced on both, picking Solomon in the fourth round and Bielak in the 11th, and they emerged as two of the system's better pitching prospects during their first full pro seasons. The latter led Houston farmhands with a 2.23 ERA and advanced to Double-A 12 months after signing.
Bielak lacks a true plus pitch but has the potential for four solid offerings. His 91-94 mph four-seam fastball has high spin rates that give it riding life that helps it dodge bats up in the strike zone. His circle changeup is often his most reliable secondary offering and helped him shackle left-handers with a .485 OPS last season.
The Astros have made alterations to Bielak's breaking pitches, switching him from a traditional to a spike curveball and helping him tighten his slider. He also has upgraded his control as a pro, enhancing his profile as a starter after scouts mostly envisioned him as a reliever when they saw him in college. He has a durable build and uses a high arm slot to overcome his lack of height and create downhill plane.
Strong summers in the Cape Cod League in 2016 had Notre Dame's Peter Solomon and Bielak poised to go in the early rounds of the next year's Draft, but both squandered that opportunity with disappointing junior seasons. The Astros gladly snapped up both, taking Solomon in the fourth round and Bielak in the 11th, and they've performed well in pro ball. While Solomon was considered the better prospect in college, Bielak has surpassed him and reached Double-A in June of his first full season.
Bielak may not have a true plus pitch but he has an effective four-pitch repertoire. His 91-94 mph four-seam fastball plays better than its velocity because its riding life avoids barrels. His changeup often is his best secondary offering and has helped him dominate left-handers at the outset of his pro career.
The Astros have helped Bielak clean up his breaking stuff, having him switch to a spike curveball over a traditional one and tightening up his slider. He has thrown a lot more strikes as a pro than he did with the Fighting Irish, giving him a chance to start after many scouts previously projected him as a reliever. He's not especially tall but uses a high arm slot to create downhill plane.