Poncedeleon's progress is encouraging

Cards Minor Leaguer had head surgery after comebacker

Poncedeleon's progress is encouraging

ST. LOUIS -- Though Minor League pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon remains in the intensive care unit of an Iowa hospital three days after being struck on the head by a line drive, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak reported that the doctors are "very encouraged by how things are progressing."

Poncedeleon underwent surgery on Wednesday to relieve pressure around his brain. Members of his family have traveled to Iowa to be by his side, and Poncedeleon has been able to hold conversations, answer questions and eat on his own since waking up after the procedure.

"Right now, everything is going in a very positive direction," Mozeliak said. "You don't want to speak in absolutes. You don't want to draw conclusions. But we're very encouraged with where he's at.

"I think we should have a really good idea of what the outlook should look like probably the early part of next week. Overall, I think the doctors are really pleased with where he's at."

Poncedeleon opened the season in Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A Memphis on April 10. There, he posted a 2.17 ERA over 29 innings before being injured by a line drive against the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday. Poncedeleon gave a thumbs up while being carted off the field on a stretcher. Shortly afterward, doctors determined that he needed to undergo head surgery.

Mozeliak acknowledged that Poncedeleon's injury could reignite conversations about whether pitchers should be wearing protective head gear. Major League Baseball approved a padded hat for pitchers in 2014, but no one at the Major League or Minor League levels is required to wear it and few have chosen to.

"You always hate to have a tragedy sort of point you to a decision to do something you normally wouldn't want to or aren't comfortable with doing," Mozeliak said. "This is certainly going to bring light to that.

"These types of injuries are very scary. Are they preventable? There is technology being put out there that probably could help with this. ... Protective headwear is something that may be part of our future."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.