He may be a short right-hander who hasn’t pitched above Low-A, but with two plus offspeed pitches and some bulldog on the mound, Jean Pinto comes in at #13
Age (as of Jun 30th) : 20
2021 Level: FCL/A-
Pitches (current/future value)
Most Likely Future Role: 4th starter/High leverage reliever
Ceiling: Mid-Rotation starter
What we know: Usually there is nothing to like about a 5-11 right-handed starting pitcher, but this 20-year old may break that unwritten rule that little guys can’t stick as starters. Acquired along with Gene Stallings for Jose Iglesias after the 2020 season, he looked like little more than a throw in, but ended up having the best stuff of any of the pitchers acquired in the trades with the Angels that netted them five minor league pitchers.
Pinto’s fastball is nothing to get excited about averaging about 92 MPH and topping out on occasion at 94 or 95 MPH. It doesn’t have a ton of life, but he does seem to cut it sometimes and it works well up in the zone for swings and misses. What separates Pinto from the others is his two offspeed pitches that both miss bats. His high spin rate slider (reportedly up to 3000 RPM) has late hard bite that is hard to barrel up and can generate a good amount of swing and miss. His split change is a real weapon that is almost unhittable to left-handers as it dives down and away from them.
How hard was he to hit? Low-A batters slashed just .178/.239/.258/.497 off him and were only able to hit 26.2% fly balls against him. He fills up the strike zone throwing 65% of his pitches for strikes while getting an excellent 19% swinging strike rate along with a 15% looking strike rate. For comparison, Grayson Rodriguez put up a 67% strike rate with an 18% swinging and 18% looking rate in AA this year.
Another thing that stands out is his mound presence and ability to read hitters despite being just 20 years old and have just 78.2 professional innings under his belt. Pinto never looks rattled on the mound and frequently is seen shaking of his catcher until he throws what he wants to throw. More times than not, the pitch he wanted to throw got a swing and miss or a good result. His willingness to shake a catcher off (many of who are getting calls or reading calls off arm bands provided to them pre game) and they feel confident to throw his pitch really stands out among the young pitchers in the system.
What we don’t know: Can he hold up to a 100 pitches and keep his stuff? Due to the Orioles organization pitch limits this year, he only got up to 80 plus pitches three times, but his stuff looked the same at the end of those outings so we know he can at least keep it up those pitch limits. With such limited innings, can he hold up over an entire year as a starter? Can he eventually be able to pitch 180 innings a year at the major league level?
What we think: This good news about Pinto is the floor is very high because with two offspeed weapons, he has a floor of a good multiple innings reliever if he doesn’t hold up as a starter. While he may not have the velocity of a Kyle Bradish or Mike Baumann, his secondaries gives him a much better chance of sticking as a starter despite the small stature. Built similarly to Pedro Martinez though maybe a little thicker.