Yesterday the Oakland Athletics promoted infield prospect Chad Pinder to the major league roster. Let's see what he has to offer.
First, the basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Chad Pinder, INF, Oakland Athletics
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 195 DOB: March 29, 1992
2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C+
A second round pick in 2013 from Virginia Tech, Pinder now has two strong pro seasons on his resume. He was solid in the Cal League in ’14 then won the MVP award in the Texas League in ’15. When drafted, Pinder was viewed as a line drive hitter but he’s turned into more of a power source than expected. He’s maintained good batting averages but his approach is aggressive, leading to an unattractive BB/K/PA ratio. So far that hasn’t hurt him. My guess is that he’ll put up similar slash numbers in Triple-A but big league pitchers will find the holes when he is promoted. Be that as it may, even if his average and OBP slip, he’ll provide enough sock to be interesting. Pinder has a strong throwing arm but his range is stretched at shortstop. Some Texas League sources felt he could stick there with more work, while others project a move to second base or a super-utility job. Overall I like Pinder, but there are still some uncertainties about long-term role and on-base ability. Grade B-.
Pinder hit .317/.361/.486 in 2015 with 15 homers, 28 walks, and 103 strikeouts in 477 at-bats for Double-A Midland, leading to the comment you see above. His 2016 numbers are similar in some ways: .258/.310/.425 with 14 homers, 25 walks, and 108 strikeouts in 426 at-bats for Triple-A Nashville. His walk ratio and isolated power are virtually identical to last year, but his BABIP is 50 points lower, cutting into his production and dropping him from a solid +135 wRC+ for Midland to just 92 wRC+ for Nashville.
Scouting reports haven't changed much: he shows substantial (but not exclusive) pull-side power and a mechanically sound swing. He is dangerous when ahead in the count, but he has problems actually getting ahead in counts due to an aggressive approach; there was some talk last fall that he had solved this problem but the Triple-A numbers show that it is still an issue.
That said, there's plenty of pop in the bat and he is strong enough to drive the ball out of the park to center or right field.
Reports on defense haven't changed much either: his arm is his best attribute. He's fairly steady at shortstop but doesn't have the typical range for the position, at least in my opinion; others disagree and Oakland has played him there almost exclusively the last two seasons. He did make a great play here:
Overall, I see Pinder as a very good role player, with some chance to get beyond that if he can get more consistent with the strike zone.