Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Checking in on Tri-City ValleyCats RHP Erasmo Pinales

Near the end of a Tri-City ValleyCats game last month, I made my way over to sit by a couple of 'Cats super fans and season ticket holders who sit directly behind home plate. Thus I found myself wedged between @VamosGatosCrew's Rob Witt (aka @1_Santa_Claus) and ValleyCats LHP Framber Valdez (since promoted to Quad Cities). Valdez is an interesting player in his own right, but his story will have to wait for another day.

Valdez was charting pitches that night and I was peeking over his shoulder to see the velocities that RHP Erasmo Pinales had put up in his 4.2 innings. The chart was full of hashmarks for 94 and 95, as well as a goodly number of 96's and 97's. On top of that, he had hashmarks under every single offspeed offering as well, indicating a robust repertoire of pitches. I was scheduled to talk with ValleyCats Pitching Coach Drew French the next day and I quickly added Pinales to the list of players to ask him about.

Erasmo Pinales - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

According to French, "(Pinales) features six pitches that all are of major league average or better quality pitches. Clearly for him, it's not about (adding) a pitch or anything like that. It's about how consistent can I be with my delivery and my work day in and day out, not just the day that I pitch. How consistent emotionally can I be day in and day out so that the day that I pitch is my easiest day. When those things line up for him, he's been really, really good."

French continued, "Making this jump is different from Greeneville to here. The quality of player on the opposing team is not near as high (at Greeneville). You have more college guys (at Tri-City) that have a little more skill and ability. They take close pitches and they don't chase everything.

"(Pinales) is having to learn to be a professional in all aspects of his life, but he has some of the most interesting stuff in our organization. He's one that there's a lot of people watching him very closely because he's got an opportunity, I think, to really press on in the years to come and make a name for himself.

"Every pitch he throws is above 83 or 84 miles an hour. [When I mentioned that Pinales's fastball was 93 to 97 the prior night, French noted that Pinales has hit some 98's as well.] It's explosive stuff, absolutely." French went on to remark that Pinales had been fighting his command in that game, but that he did an excellent job of sequencing his pitches and making adjustments throughout the game to get him through his 4.2 innings. Although French would have liked to get Pinales to five innings to give him a change to get the win, he had to adhere to pitch count restrictions. "The rules are the rules with these guys and right now, it's more about their development and taking care of them than it is about getting them a W."

When asked about Pinales's best offspeed offering, French said, "It really varies from day to day. Yesterday, his curveball was really, really good but (his) changeup, his split, his curveball, his slider and both of his fastballs, 4-seam and 2-seam, are really, really good pitches. So I'd say yesterday was probably the curveball, but when he faces righthanders, his changeup and his slider are kind of his go to. The split he sprinkles in as he feels necessary. It's really hard to get him to use all his pitches when he has so many pitch types. That's one of the things that we have to monitor very closely with him is just to make sure that he gets the reps on everything or else he could just go five innings and throw a fastball and a slider and have a lot of success on the scoreboard, but (not) get the reps developmentally."

Having too many pitches sounds like a good problem to have. Pinales is definitely an interesting player to watch and I will be doing just that. Here are a couple of videos I took of that July 17th game showing Pinales in action.

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