Robinson Pina, RHP, LAA

It’s not how you do the first time at a level, but how you do when you repeat a level that counts. Meet Robinson Pina.

No. 29 Angels prospect Robinson Pina closed out seven scoreless frames with his 13th punchout for the @TC_DustDevils. Originally tweeted by Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) on June 24, 2022 [Click date link to see video in a new window]

  • Born: November 26, 1998
  • B/T: Right/Right
  • 6’4″, 224-lbs
  • Signed by the Los Angeles Angels in 2017 out of the Dominican Republic

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

In 2019 Pina moved up to A-ball from the Rookie leagues and the foreign leagues in his teen years. Now age 20, he took to A-ball and other than the walks did quite well. A 31% K rate is great from a starter making 21 starts.

After the lost 2020, he starts 2021 as a 22-year-old and repeats A-ball, and now his walks get cut in half, while the strikeouts go to a career high 38%. I’d say he learned how to pitch at that level, wouldn’t you?

So he goes to High-A, and the walks return, the strikeouts stay high, and because of the walks he only looks average.

But the Angels bumped him to Double-A to finish the season, and for the first time his strikeout rate drops below 30% (just barely).

So before 2022, we had a picture of a guy who could always strike guys out but got in his own way with the walks. He repeats High-A, and just as when he repeated A-ball and did much better, this time he does much better at High-A. His walk rate dropped to almost his career low, he strikes out just as many as before, and it adds up to a nifty 28% K-BB%.

Looking at the monthly splits, he really did bring his walk rate under 10% in most months, and half the time considerably below 10%. He strikeout rate seems to be quite resistant to dropping below 30%. You get the feeling that he looks at June and sulks at the 29% mark.

Against lefties, he struck out 39% of them while walking 8%.

Against righties, he struck out 32% of them while walking 7%.

When your “worst” side of the platoon yields a 25% K-BB%, you ain’t got much to worry about.

The Scouts

Warnings

He certainly took care of High-A, but can he do better when he repeats Double-A? That would get some attention from the scouts.

Will walks always be an issue? Do we have to live with 8% but a high K rate? That could yield some ugly WHIPs in the majors.

Scouts don’t believe yet. That can happen with undrafted free agents who signed foreign contracts as teenagers. They have to keep proving it on the field, and do it in the upper levels, before the scouts wake up.

Conclusion

How high will his K rate be in the majors, assuming he makes it? If he can reach the majors and keep it in the upper-20s, say 28% with an 8% walk rate, that would still be a decent 20% K-BB%.

He’s got a fastball that can reach 95 mph, and a plus curve with an average changeup. He is viewed as a relief candidate because of his command, but his command in 2022 really stepped forward, so who knows now?

He’s either going to be a #5 starter, or a high-K reliever. The key will be how he handles Double-A the second time. If he continues to strike out 30% of the batters there, and if his walk rate remains under 10%, he’ll be viewed as a possible rotation piece.

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