“We have a lot invested in him (Pineda), we have to take things slowly. Pineda has to prove himself just like ever pitcher out here has to prove themselves, no exceptions. The plan is to have him pitching in Staten Island and we’ll see what happens from there. Unlike the West, the AL East is the hardest division in baseball, and we feel that he has some maturing to do.” †
The recent trade that sent top hitting prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle brought one of the AL West’s brightest pitchers to the Bronx. The biggest issue the Yankees foresaw with Michael Pineda, of course, is dealing with the transition between two divisions. Though Pineda enjoyed a season of success in the AL West, it was a mystery to fans where the Yankee front office thought the competition level matched up. While some believed that the International League would best suit the big righty, some optimistic fans had him penciled into the major league rotation.
After showing up to camp in February at a monumental 10 pounds overweight, the plan to put Pineda on a mound in the Bronx began to show its initial holes. It wasn’t until his debut start in early March that we saw the nail in the coffin, he had lost velocity. Pineda, who average 94.7 mph on his fastball last year, was only throwing in the low 90’s. The gargantuan drop in velocity and weight gain has prompted the organization to enroll veteran pitchers CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia as mentors to Pineda. The idea, of course, is to stress the importance of nutrition and velocity to the youngster. Following a year where an obese Phil Hughes saw a similar velocity drop, the Yankees don’t want to see Pineda follow up with a similar season.
Pineda will join a strong group of young prospects in Low-A Staten Island this season, though manager Justin Pope has stated that Michael Pineda is not a lock for the rotation yet.
†This may or may not be an actual Brian Cashman quote.
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