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Is This the O’s Most Underrated Prospect?

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Last week was a huge step forward for the Orioles in their rebuild efforts. Their farm system has now reached the point that many publications have crowned them the number one system in Baseball. While rankings aren’t everything, it shows how far the system has come along.

With a very deep system come some prospects that fall under the radar and don’t get nearly enough of the attention they deserve. While this can be due to several reasons, such as not playing a lot or lack of national exposure, this prospect has done nothing but produce in the opportunities he has been given, yet you won’t find his name on a lot of top 30 lists.

The prospect we are talking about today is RHP Jean Pinto, the most underrated prospect in the Orioles farm system.

Pinto is a 20-year–old RHP out of Venezuela. The Angels initially signed him in May of 2019 as an International Free Agent. He didn’t pitch much in 2019 and didn’t pitch in 2020 due to the COVID–19 Pandemic. In December of this year, he was traded to the Orioles with RHP Garrett Stallings for SS Jose Iglesias.

Pinto wouldn’t pitch until June 28th, when he joined the FCL Orioles. He was so good in Sarasota that he was promoted to Low–A Delmarva.

Pinto has been great when he has pitched this year. He has a 1.95 ERA in 11 games and 50 innings. In those 50 innings, he has 65 strikeouts and has only walked 13.

What stands out is that Pinto has shown an ability to limit the damage. He has a 0.77 WHIP this year, so he hasn’t been walking many batters, but he also hasn’t been giving up a lot of hits.

This also ties into what I think will make Pinto stick around: his ability to throw strikes. Pinto has a strike percentage of .790 this year. When this is added to the 65 strikeouts he has, he has an excellent ability to attack the zone and not be afraid to challenge hitters early in counts. This is how dominant pitchers operate, and Pinto has the potential to become a dominant pitcher.

Pinto doesn’t lack pure stuff either. He has an excellent fastball that can reach up to 97 that has excellent movement. His change-up usually sits around 88, and it has some lovely fading action and can be frustrating for opposing hitters. He also has two distinct breaking pitches – slider and curveball – that he can locate outside the zone to keep opposing hitters honest and fool hitters.

Pinto is a very projectable young starting pitcher with great stuff and an ability to locate the zone and attach it.

If Pinto is this good, then why is he not getting the prospect love he deserves?  I think it is mainly due to a lack of exposure. Pinto hasn’t pitched that many innings in his professional career and are just now getting his feet wet with pitching a full season. Pinto is also young and hasn’t even reached high – A yet, so I can understand publications being careful with ranking someone like Pinto in their top 30 lists. However, I still think he is worthy of a top 30 list ranking mainly because his pure stuff and success are more than enough for him to be ranked.

Pinto will have to continue to produce as he moves up the ranks, but I think that Mike Elias has found a gem of a pitcher, and if he keeps on improving, this might be a trade that the Angels regret making.

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