The Seattle Mariners have shut down top pitching prospect Michael Pineda for the season after throwing 139.1 innings for the year (last season he was limited to just 12 appearances and 47.1 innings).  Let’s take a look back and review his year.

Pineda opened the year at Double-A where he excelled.  In 13 starts (77.0 innings), he went 8-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.  If that wasn’t enough, he did a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the ballpark (only 1 HR), piled up the strikeouts (9.1 K/9) and was stingy with the walks (2.0 BB/9).

The one red flag was that lefties hit .286 against him, but it was based on a .374 BABIP.  It certainly was nothing to be concerned about.

Once promoted to Triple-A, some of the numbers fell significantly, actually.  The PCL is certainly a hitter’s league, but he allowed 9 HR in just 62.1 innings while there.  It’s not like he is an extreme fly ball pitcher (35.4% while at Triple-A and 34.2% for his career), so you have to consider this an aberration.  He has never been plagued by the long ball before, so the competition and the stadiums were a major factor.

You can say the same thing about his 4.76 ERA.  Just take a look at his home/road split:

  • Home – 5.83
  • Road – 3.82

Again, this is not something that should be considered a huge concern, simply based on the league.  You also have to think, given the innings increase from his injury shortened 2009, he easily could have tired as the season progressed.

In his last two starts he allowed 10 earned runs over just 8.0 innings.  There certainly could be something to that theory.

You have to like that he continued to strike batters out (11.0 K/9), limit the walks (2.5 BB/9) and put up a solid WHIP (1.14).  It’s also not like he was extremely lucky to get that WHIP, with a .312 BABIP.

While the numbers jump out as being ugly on the surface, there’s an awful lot to like about him.

Prior to 2010, Baseball America had him ranked as the Mariners sixth best prospect overall and their best pitching prospect.  They also had him marked as having the organizations best fastball and control.  He certainly showed both of those things and lived up to the hype.

After elbow strains caused two stints on the DL in 2009, you can’t argue with the team’s thinking, either.  Just look at what Ryan Divish of the News Tribune (click here for the article) recently said about his stuff:

“His velocity on his fastball was pretty good, topping out at 97 mph and sitting usually around 94-96. However, he didn’t have good command of the pitch – many of them up in the zone and his slider lacked some of the depth that it usually has. He just wasn’t as crisp as I’ve seen him when he first got called up to Tacoma. The life on some of his pitches was missing despite him feeling strong.”

At 21-years old, he certainly has the potential to emerge in 2011 as part of the Mariners rotation.  Keep a close eye on him, as he is entering what may be the perfect situation.  He has great control, a terrific fastball that leads to strikeouts and would call a pitcher’s park home.  What’s not to like?

I’m not about to dub him a 2011 fantasy ace, but if/when he gets his shot, he certainly has the potential to be a solid option in all formats.

What are your thoughts on Pineda?  Could he be a viable 2011 option?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out our Prospect Tracker, for links to the latest updates on all the top prospects in baseball, by clicking here.


Read more MLB news on