Hitting updates on Antuna, Wilson and Pineda

Here are more capsules on a few of the Nationals’ prospects and how they did this summer at the recently wrapped up instructional league, coming from Nats hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich.

The Nats’ No. 12 prospect is infielder Yasel Antuna, who begins play in the Dominican winter league starting tomorrow. He is listed as playing third base and shortstop. Gingrich said there was a good amount of buzz surrounding Antuna’s hitting in Fredericksburg, Va., the Nats’ alternate training site. The switch-hitting Antuna, 21, then spent two weeks in West Palm Beach, Fla., before heading to the Dominican Republic.

Thumbnail image for baseballs-generic-art-nats.jpg“They were raving about him in Fredericksburg,” Gingrich said. “Swinging both sides, really good position, just short to the ball. I didn’t see the power, of course. He only played a few games (because of bad weather). But just during his BP it’s a different sound off of his bat compared to a lot of other guys. I feel so great for that kid. What he has had to go through the last two years with injuries and dealing with all that stuff, to finally be healthy and play. He left early because he is going to go play a few games in winter ball.”

Outfielder Cody Wilson, 24, was a 13th-round selection out of Florida Atlantic. He played 77 games for low Single-A Hagerstown in 2019, having moved up two levels during that season.

“He had a really good spring, and he carried over here to instructs,” Gingrich said. “He’s in the best hitting position I’ve ever seen him to be in consistently. It’s just he needs play games. Hopefully, he can maintain the confidence that he has. That, for me, is the bigger thing with him. He has a tendency to overthink things at times. Just needs to trust his ability and go out and play. When he does that, he has a chance to be very good.”

Catcher Israel Pineda has also gotten a lot of coaches and coordinators to talk about his ability and potential. Pineda played in 101 games for Hagerstown in 2019 and got valuable time catching top Nats pitchers this summer in Fredericksburg. Gingrich noticed a big jump in the approach at the plate from the 20-year-old Venezuelan backstop.

“Pineda has made tremendous strides from last year to this year,” Gingrich said. “Just a great story, especially for him going to Fredericksburg was huge. Being around the veteran guys, I can’t stress that enough, how important that was. It’s fun to see him. He’s kind of what I thought he was going to be.

“Last year was OK for him because it was a learning experience. There were things he had to work on and continue to improve. His strike-zone knowledge has gotten so much better. His hitting position has gotten so much better. He’s taking pitches that he would have swung at last year. That’s what is very important for me.”

Pineda is ranked as the Nats’ No. 14 prospect, currently their highest-rated catcher in the system.

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