POTD Michael Pineda, SP, A+ ball

=== Scouting Report ===

In case you didn't click over to Jason's fine article, Pineda is given credit for an Orel Hershiser assortment of pitches -- plus FB, plus slider, plus change, all thrown with Jamie Moyer command:

"He could have hit a target on a fly's back from a thousand yards away," an NL scout in attendance said. "It's always fun to see a young pitcher with good stuff throw all of his pitches for strikes and spot the fastball all over the zone."

Which explains why Pineda has way too much for low-minors hitters, even at High Desert.  A located 93 fastball will get MLB hitters out, much less class-A batters.


=== Template?  It Doesn't Exist! ===

Other tall Latin pitchers with smooth motions, an assortment of hot pitches and great command?   El Duque, Jose Guzman and the young Freddy Garcia fit this description to some extent, though they generally didn't have the height and certainly not the command at 20.  Freddy's not a bad comp, though. 

Chris Carpenter is tall like Pineda, but I wouldn't say he has plus-plus command, would you?  Certainly not when he was young.  Carpenter walked 4, 5 guys a game in the minors.

El Presidente Dennis Martinez definitely lived up to all the raves about Pineda -- wide assortement of strikeout pitches, thrown into a teacup.

Lemme qualify it with the mandatory caveat for the lurkers :- ) ... this guy came up with Pineda's scouting report, as I recall.   Javier Vazquez, too.


Do you know what?   I don't believe there is another ML pitcher in the last 20 years who fits this description:

1. Tall (6-5 plus)

2.  From Central America (well-developed secondary pitches and deception)

3.  Superb command

4.  Throws harder than average

That's not asking a lot from a template, but I believe that Michael Pineda is unique, recently, in this template as you search for major league prototypes. 

Javier Vazquez might be the closest, but not really.   He's 6-2, had some control issues in the minors for a while, walking 4.1 guys when he was 18. 

I looked through the top 100 (!) active pitchers for K/BB ratio, and none were even close to Pineda's template.   None of them were real tall guys who threw hard and had Mark Beuhrle command at 20 -- with already-developed three-pitch arsenals. 

At 20, guys are trying to command their fastballs and maybe work on a circle change.

Still, Javier Vazquez is the comp I like best of all the ones I scanned through.  (I never understood why Vazquez couldn't put it together better than he did.  Too many HR's, yeah, but from a mental standpoint why could he never adjust on that?)


Pineda's template is exciting for precisely this reason:  very tall pitchers develop later.  To find a tall guy who commands like Jamie Moyer, at the age of 20, that's a platypus.

Go ahead and adopt Michael Pineda.  I'm gonna.

Be Afraid.  Be Very Afraid,

Dr D



I think the thing that sabermetricians still don't do very well when they try to make projections is handle players that don't fall into an easy category.  If you can place a pitcher into a family of similar guys...similar physical attributes, similar mechanics, similar pitch arsenal, similar results...then the projections you get tend to be pretty solid.  Michael Pineda blows up PECOTA though.  I can't think of a guy exactly like Pineda.  Ramon Martinez was short like his brother Pedro.  Javier Vazquez is tall but very built, not lanky and smooth as silk.  Extreme control-artist pitchers who also have massive K rates are rare as is...finding one who matches Pineda's mechanical family is next to impossible.
Pineda has Doug Fister's command plus a bunch of K pitches (unlike Fister himself)...I just...really have a strong feeling about him
On top of that, he's doing something to my own sense of pattern recognition.  He learns very quickly, adjusts easily to new situations, and is maturing very rapidly.  The combination of his power results and his age arc and his weird lack of a similar-pitcher family are ringing alarm bells in my head.  This is the kind of thing I try to do all the time...I see patterns in the data and make suppositions and see if they turn out right.  I am supposing that Pineda is a superstar in the making if he stays healthy.

Anonymous's picture

AA Tennessee is going to be fun to watch this year. Team is going to be stacked.  


A lot of orgs push in the veteran org filler at AA and AAA to make sure the W/L% doesn't capsize... the M's will be throwing young, raw blue-chippers at grizzled vets in a lot of games...
More fun to watch the legit blue-chippers fo' sho'...

Anonymous's picture

Just thinking - West Tenn could start the year with an OF of Ackley, Gillies, Halman; an IF anchored by Liddi, Poythress and Triunfel and a pitching staff headed by Pineda, Ramirez and Robles. Fill out the holes with some of that org filler and that team is going to win a lot of games.


the entire M's system didn't have half the legit MLB upside of that group you just listed.
Every team has some prospects, but it's not often you see this many players who have a chance to be impact players.  Ackley, Triunfel, and Pineda will disappoint if they don't become MOTO hitters and TOR starters, and Poythress and Juan Ramirez have real shots at it, seems to me.

blissedj's picture

Had not signed up and logged in.
Throw Gavin Floyd and Jon Garland in there as well, but still no direct hits.


The younger one who threw hard, hit spots, followed with a power curve...
Even McDowell, though, woulda been hard-pressed to run a 48-6 control at High Desert... his walks, when he was young, were nothing impressive...
Not making Pineda out to be another Felix but the combo of skills is indeed very unsual.

shields's picture

Not what I've seen.  I really dislike his motion.
I'm not really sure what to think of Pineda.  I've seen mixed reports on how good his secondary stuff is, though his bump in K% while moving up a level would hint at them getting better.
Again, hate the motion.  I'm very skeptical that he'll be able to hold up.  I think he's a reliever long term because of it, but we'll see.  Of course, I hope I'm wrong, because I'd love his skillset in the rotation.


It's not physically possible to have exceedingly poor mechanics while running a 46:8 control ratio.  Not possible at all.
Maybe his mechanics aren't perfect, but sorry...I don't buy that they're "bullpen-limiting" the way Aumont's clearly are.

shields's picture

I never said they were "exceedingly poor."  He's not a mess like Aumont.  I just really dislike the whippy arm action.  Watch some video of Pineda, and then tell me how many good starting pitchers throw like that.  That's a motion you see out of the bullpen all the time but rarely out of the rotation (especially from a veteran who has remained durable through the years).
And while "bad" mechanics are often linked to both health AND performance, in many cases they go one way or the other.  Inverted W, just to pick an example that most are familiar with, doesn't have any major effects on performance-- in fact it may very well help a pitcher generate more velo and movement, but many believe it leads to all kinds of shoulder and elbow problems.

shields's picture

Eh... Pacific Prospect Report had a good one, but the site is now dead.  I've emailed Drew (who works for the Rainiers, btw) to see if he can send it to me.  If he does I'll be sure to share it.


You don't like his motion in the sense that you fear he is unusually likely to hurt himself? 
Any one specific thing?  Or maybe elaborate on 'whippy arm' ...

shields's picture

A good amount of hyperabduction, generally violent looking delivery.  If I recall correctly he didn't seem to use his legs much at all.  Of course, I haven't viewed the video in quite a while and can't seem to find any others out there, so my imagination could have taken over a bit.  When we get ahold of a video we'll review.  The elbow problems that plagued him this season aren't a good sign, though.

shields's picture

(This is reply to Jeff's comment that disappeared, but I figure it's worth posting)
My inverted W reference wasn't supposed to be linked to Pineda.  It was just a general example.  Pineda is more like this than this.
Arm is vertical, but elbow is still well above the shoulder.  He actually reminds me of Pedro Strop.
(Just more of what I remember) In the video I seem to remember him being a tall and fall guy, but don't quote me on that.  He was very deliberate leading up to the violent whip action.  In fact, his elbow soreness occurred after they tried to speed up his delivery, for what that's worth. 


We get to tapping out a comment and then realize we've crossed the threshold for posting, LOL...
Pedro Strop is an inspired mechanical comp.  From the pics and reports, that is the kind of thing that I had pictured.
Next thread...

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.