VIERA, Fla.—Ivan Pineyro took a line drive to the jaw and came back as strong as ever. Now the 21-year-old righthander is on track to make a full-season team for the first time.
At extended spring training last year, Pineyro was impressing organization officials with his command and poise. Then came his injury, which hardly set him back as he zipped through the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before making eight starts with short-season Auburn.
"He didn't bat an eyelash," Auburn pitching coach Sam Narron said. "I was there when he got hit. All of his outings—even that one—had been very good. He was throwing strikes and getting a lot of weak contact.
"The next thing you know, the ball caught him right in the jaw and he's writhing in pain."
Narron, who had a line drive hit him in the face when he pitched at Class A, put together a 10-year professional career and pitched in one game for the 2004 Rangers. He saw just how tough Pineyro was by the time the two were together with the Doubledays.
Pineyro had continued to long-toss when his jaw was wired shut. He was out six weeks before going 0-0, 2.38 in the GCL with 23 strikeouts in 23 innings and 3-2, 5.50 with 27 strikeouts in 34 innings at Auburn.
"He just folded back in," Narron said. "You're either going to be terrified of it or you're going to get right back at it, and he did the latter."
Narron and international scouting director Johnny DiPuglia say Pineyro has a lively fastball with an above-average changeup and a decent breaking ball. Farm director Doug Harris said he is "very mature with strong intangibles, and he'll flash three solid pitches."
"He's real smart kid who's very well educated and as a good head on his shoulders," said DiPuglia, who signed the 6-foot-1 Pineyro out of the Dominican Republic in July 2010. "He wants to be a big leaguer—that's a big part of it."
When DiPuglia signed Pineyro out of the Dominican in July 2010, the pitcher threw 84 mph. Last summer, DiPuglia was there for his signee's first start in the GCL.
"He was throwing 90-94, hitting all four quadrants of the strike zone," DiPuglia said. "That line drive could've really affected his development, but he didn't let it."
• Third baseman Anthony Rendon was on a tear at the start of spring training. He began 5-for-12 with two doubles and a home run.
• Pineyro was one of 20 pitchers among the 41 non-rehabbing invitees to accelerated development camp. Dominican catchers Raudy Read and Pedro Severino, both 19, were the youngest players on the camp's active roster.