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Poncedeleon drafted for fourth time as Cards pick righty

Poncedeleon drafted for fourth time as Cards pick righty

Right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon is no stranger to the First-Year Player Draft.

His selection by the Cardinals in the ninth round on Friday was the fourth of his career after the right-handed pitcher endured a hectic last several months to get there.

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The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 12 p.m. CT.

Poncedeleon was drafted in 2010 by the Rays, in '12 by the Reds and last summer by the Cubs. He took the extra step last summer, intending to sign with Chicago before they failed his physical for what he was told were concerns about the nerve placement in his elbow.

"After the Cubs failed my physical, I had to go back to communicate with my coaches to see if I could come back," Poncedeleon said.

Because he had reached a deal with the Cubs, the NCAA ruled, after many months of waiting, that Poncedeleon was ineligible to return to the University of Houston. Instead, he transferred to NAIA Embry-Riddle Aeronautical (Fla.), where he posted a 1.60 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 95 2/3 innings this past season.

His season at Embry-Riddle marked the fourth stop in his collegiate career. He started his career at Arizona before moving to Cypress Junior College as a sophomore and finally Houston as a junior, where he posted a 4.47 ERA in 86 2/3 innings.

"It was a great learning experience," Poncedeleon said of moving from college to college. "You have all types of coaches and all types of how they coach and how you have to play under them and stuff like that. I've had to adapt to a new program every year since I've been in college ball."

Poncedeleon touches the mid 90s with his fastball, but his biggest weapon, he says, is the movement that comes with each pitch.

"I think my best thing is I don't really throw a straight pitch, I don't throw anything straight," Poncedeleon said. "I'm sinking in or cutting away or throwing a curveball. I have a lot of different weapons I can throw you."

His journey to Friday afternoon, where Poncedeleon finally found a landing point in St. Louis, has been frustrating. He had less than a month to find a new school after the NCAA ruled him ineligible.

In the end, it all worked out.

"I'm happy," Poncedeleon said. "I'm really happy I got drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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