Nationals catching coordinator Michael Barrett said the 20-year-old out of Maracray, Venezuela, gained valuable experience by getting a taste of working with big leaguers at the club’s alternate site over the 2020 summer season.
“Pineda had an opportunity to go to Fredericksburg, which was a great experience for him,” Barrett said. “He kind of came into instructional league a little more in baseball shape, having played. So for him to have the opportunity to continue his growth and progression in instructional league, he made great strides in Fredericksburg.”
Pineda last played 101 games for Low Single-A Hagerstown in 2019, and was listed on the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies roster during the 2020 preseason. He hit only .217 for the Suns but had previously hit .288 in 2017 for short-season Single-A Auburn, and .273 in 2018 while with Auburn. He also has hit 11 homers in his last 147 games.
Barrett said Pineda started to feel better about his game after getting positive feedback from coaches and pitchers while at the alternate site.
“He really seemed to regain a lot of his confidence and really appeared to be having lot of fun being around guys with experience and the coaching staff that he had there and then carrying it over to instructional league both on and off the field,” Barrett said. “He is still young, but he showed great leadership skills throughout the time at the hotel (in Florida and on) to Fredericksburg.”
Pineda was a part of a group of Venezuelan players that had to stay in South Florida during the canceled season because they were unable to return to their native country due to travel restrictions and unsafe health conditions back home. The players at the hotel videotaped their own workouts and drills so Nats coordinators like Barrett could monitor their progress. They worked out to get better and not waste the summer. Barrett said that Pineda built off all of that hard work, and that made the youngster stand out in West Palm Beach in October.
“He was out in front in all the drills, setting the tone for what we are all about as an organization, working hard,” Barrett said. “He went out and did a great job handling the young pitchers that we had in camp. He helped us develop them, set the tone for how we manage the game as catchers.”
MLBPipeline.com lists Pineda’s greatest asset right now as his arm, rated 60 on the 20-80 scale. Now all Pineda needs are real games and a real season to build off of 2020 and take the confidence he gained to the plate to see how he can swing the bat against new opponents.