- Full name Michael Francisco Pineda
- Born 01/18/1989 in Yaguate, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'7" / Wt.: 280 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 04/05/2011
Organization Prospect Rankings
Pineda has had little trouble with minor league hitters, posting a 2.49 ERA and 396 strikeouts in 404 innings. After elbow soreness limited him to 47 innings in 2009, he returned healthy last season and reached Triple-A at age 21. Pineda has the size, stuff and control to pitch at the top of a rotation. He throws a crisp fastball that sits at 93-97 mph and gets as high as 101 with explosive life and occasional heavy sink. He tightened and added more tilt to his quality slider this year, though he can still get under it occasionally, causing it to flatten out. He also did a better job of selling his upper-80s changeup with the same arm speed as his fastball, keeping it down and getting hitters to chase it. Pineda throws all three pitches from the same three-quarter arm slot. With his velocity, high-effort delivery and unusual arm action, it's surprising how well he throws strikes. While he has good control, his command could be sharpened. Pineda is on the 40-man roster and will challenge for a rotation spot in Seattle in 2011. He eventually should become the No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez, but he shouldn't be expected to be that guy right out of the gate.
Pineda toyed with Midwest League batters in 2008, ranking second in the circuit in ERA (1.95) and opponent average (.216). He picked up right where he left off last season, paying little heed to the tough pitching environments of High Desert and the California League as a whole. Mavericks Stadium didn't undermine him, but his elbow did, as lingering soreness sent him to the disabled list and limited him to 47 innings. Pineda's velocity returned when he pitched in the Cal League playoffs, with his fastball sitting at 91-92 mph and touching 94. It has good armside run, allowing him to tie up righthanders. He works the other side of the plate with an 86-91 mph cutter, and also shows advanced feel for a changeup. The natural movement he imparts on his pitches makes them difficult to square up. Pineda's elbow pain is cause for concern. He struggled to hold his velocity into the late innings last year. He'll snap off a true slider in the high 70s on occasion, but when he overthrows, the pitch is more of a cut fastball with short break. Having added 60-70 pounds to his frame since signing, Pineda has a strong build suited for the rotation--if his elbow holds up. Not many Mariners farmhands can match his upside, so the organization may opt to challenge Pineda with a ticket to Double-A in 2010.
Joining Phillippe Aumont and Juan Ramirez, Pineda rounded out the trio of teenage pitching sensations who fronted Wisconsin's 2008 rotation. He spent two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before tearing up the Midwest League in his U.S. debut. He ranked second in the league in ERA (1.95) and opponent average (.216), and he capped his season with a 14-strikeout one-hitter. Pineda spots his 88-92 mph fastball at will and isn't afraid to pitch inside. Batters have a tough time squaring him up because of the life on his pitches. He shows deceptive arm action on an above-average changeup. His durable 6-foot-5 frame and strong control suggest that stamina won't be a problem. Pineda lacks feel for his 77-80 mph slider and could end up in the bullpen as a result. Despite strong fastball command, he has an awkward quality to his arm action and doesn't always repeat his delivery. MWL observers had enough qualms about Pineda's arm action and lack of feel for a breaking ball that they were split on his future role--either No. 3 starter or reliever. His control is so advanced for a 19-year-old, though, that he could move quickly through the system. The Mariners will keep him in the rotation as he advances to high Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Pineda breezed through Double-A before running into some trouble after a June promotion to Tacoma. While his 4.76 ERA as a Rainier wasn't pretty, most of his peripheral numbers remained strong. Few prospects have better arms than Pineda, who unleashes heavy 95-98 mph fastballs. One scout clocked him at 101. He throws his heater for strikes and while his command isn't pinpoint, it's good enough considering his velocity. Pineda complements his fastball with a power slider that shows late bite at times. He also has a changeup that's below-average right now, though it has some sink and he has some feel for it. Some observers thought the inconsistency of his secondary pitches and the effort in his delivery pointed to a future as a late-inning reliever.
Aside from Stanton, no SL prospect excited scouts and managers alike as much as Pineda. He throws in the upper 90s from his first pitch and maintains his velocity throughout a game. With a loose, whippy arm, he pitches to both sides of the plate with his heater, which has explosive life. Pineda also has developed a low-80s slider that improved during the season. His changeup is still a work in progress, and he struggles to control the pitch. Because he has yet to master the changeup and his healthy history includes elbow soreness that knocked him out for most of 2009, some scouts think he's more likely to succeed as a closer than as a frontline starter.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the Seattle Mariners in 2011
- Rated Best Fastball in the Seattle Mariners in 2011
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Southern League in 2010
- Rated Best Fastball in the Southern League in 2010
- Rated Best Control in the Seattle Mariners in 2010
- Rated Best Fastball in the Seattle Mariners in 2010
- Rated Best Control in the Seattle Mariners in 2009