Here is another installment on some of the Nationals’ young pitchers to watch that pitched for then-manager Tripp Keister while in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League last year.
Right-hander Ronald Pena: Pena made three starts for the GCL Nats, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six innings of work, with five strikeouts and one walk. With short-season Single-A Auburn, The 6-foot-4, 195 lb., Pena pitched in two games for 6 1/3 innings, going 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA, four strikeouts and no walks.
The 21-year old pitched for Palm Beach State junior college before joining the GCL Nats. After a slow start due to arm discomfort, Pena got going.
“It is a shame, but during his throwing program before the season started, his arm was tender,” said former GCL Nats and current Hagerstown manager Keister. “It wasn’t an injury, but he felt like he didn’t have anything. So we shut him down and really went slow with him. Once he got on the mound, he really finished on a positive note. After our season was over, he went to Auburn and pitched in their playoffs and threw well for them, too.”
Keister said Pena has another good frame and some mid-90s stuff that got the scouts’ attention early on.
“He has good command of his fastball,” Keister said. “He has a projectable body at 6-foot-4. I think they had him up to 94-95 mph. He has a slider. He threw hard and has fastball command. Pena is a very intriguing kid, very competitive.”
Right-hander Ivan Pineyro: Pineyro survived a scary injury early in the summer to bounce back and pitch well for the GCL Nats and then Auburn. Pineyro, who hails from the Dominican Republic, went 0-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five starts for the GCL Nats. At Auburn, Pineyro made eight starts and totaled a 3-2 record with a 5.50 ERA over 34 1/3 innings. He struck out 50 hitters with 15 walks in 57 total innings.
“Pineyro started with us,” Keister said. “He went to Auburn, he is an exciting prospect. He is a young man that got hit in the face in spring training and broke his jaw. Six weeks later, he was pitching again. Incredible.”
Right-hander Leonard Hollins: Hollins played in only five games for the GCL Nats, but made a favorable impression on Keister in his time in Florida. The 21-year old is 6-foot-3, 185 lb., out of Madison, Miss., by way of Chipola College. In five games for the GCL Nats, Hollins went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA over nine innings, earning eight strikeouts and had three walks. At low Single-A Hagerstown, Hollins went 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 games (18 innings), allowing nine earned runs, striking out eight and walking seven.
“Hollins was really good,” Keister said. “He throws from underneath, has got a deceptive arm action. He is an interesting kid. He has got to get better with his breaking ball but he is tough to hit and is a very good athlete. Some of the scouts are saying he might be the best athlete early in the draft that we got. Gets off the mound, he fields his position very well. He is a very interesting kid.”