New Year’s Day is about four things, largely. Having some blackeyed peas for good luck, representing that we know something about how college football flows to the NFL, parades, and deciding which aspects of life to assess higher and lower priorities to, as per last year. Happy New Year, if you celebrate in early January, and feel free to increase or decrease whatever aspects of baseball awareness you choose to in the new calendar year. Pinango was one of the “new names” for me in 2021, and I’ve learned quite a bit.
Yohendrick Pinango, outfield
Born May 7, 2002, Canora, Venezuela
Signed by the Cubs as an international free agent
The first thing I learned about Pinango was his pronunciation of his name. When announcers in minor league ball used to ride buses with players regularly (which isn’t necessarily the case, anymore), the players and announcers mingled. Stories were regular in broadcasts. The announcers that merged stories deftly with educational nuggets from the game were total assets to baseball educators. Some announcers didn’t travel in 2021, or didn’t travel on the buses. Or had limited player/interview time. Nonetheless, Pinango’s name is pronounced... as best as I’ve pieced it together... yo-HEEN-drick pea-YAN-go. Learning how to pronounce the name is step one.
Pinango swiped 27 bases in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, which is where I first saw his name in box scores. That season, he started/completed 27 games in left field, with 24 more in right. In Low-A Ball at Myrtle Beach, it was 41 in left, 21 in right, and one in center. Getting a late-season bump to Advanced-A South Bend, he added 22 more in left, and two more in right. His seasonal OPS was .700, and his season ended a few innings early due to an injury that brought on off-season surgery.
Normally, I minimize discussing injuries, as i usually lack enough information to be realistically useful. Some seem to think player-health information flows freely. It doesn’t. Why would any team want all the other teams to have similar player-health information to what they have? Once Pinango starts playing games in spring training in Mesa in 2021, Arizona Phil figures to cover that when it happens. If a player isn’t being used, that’s a bit of the reverse template, and that lack of information plays, as well.
Pinango, who will be Rule 5 Draft eligible in December, figures to begin with a team in South Bend that figures to have quite a bit of talent. Most if not all of the four full-season affiliates should also be similarly talent-laden. He figures to get quite a few looks in left field early in the South Bend season, regardless of the lockout situation. He’s unlikely to be advanced enough to go quickly to Tennessee, even if a run of players go from “not in MLB camp” one week to “in MLB camp” the next week. Pinango belongs in South Bend, early, barring other news.
One final thing to mind about Pinango and injuries. Baseball has, largely, two types of injuries. Baseball-related, and non-baseball-related. While it’s unfortunate when a baseball injury happens (regardless the level of seriousness), I prefer them to be baseball-related. Pinango made a diving attempt on a line drive. Having homered in the top of the sixth, he misfired on a dive on a single. It doesn’t sound like he should miss time over it in April. He should play far sooner than Miguel Amaya, but for anything further than that, I’m patient enough to await actual news from actual games and practices.