WASHINGTON – The catching situation for the Nationals looks a lot different than it did less than three months ago – or even two weeks ago.
The Nationals traded veteran Yan Gomes at the trade deadline in late July and acquired young backstops Keibert Ruiz from the Dodgers and Riley Adams from the Blue Jays in two other deals. Veteran Alex Avila retired after his last game earlier this month and has made a nice transition already to broadcasting.
There is much more depth at the position and that might not be good news for Israel Pineda, who was signed by the Nationals and began his pro career in 2017 in the Gulf Coast League.
Pineda, 21, a native of Venezuela, was a regular catcher for high Single-A Wilmington this past year with the Blue Rocks in Delaware.
He was on the inured list from August 8 until late August, but still played in 77 games and had 293 at-bats.
While Pineda hit just .208, he did have 14 homers, 11 doubles and drove in 48 runs.
His manager was Fairfax native Tommy Shields, the former Orioles and Cubs’ infielder who was let go by the Nationals at the end of the season.
Pineda was at Instructional League in Florida in the fall of last year and was able to work out under the eyes of Matt LeCroy, a former Washington catcher who was the manager at Triple-A Rochester this past year.
“His body has transformed,” LeCroy told Federal Baseball last year.
“His throwing has dramatically improved. He is turning himself into a good prospect.”
On October 4, Pineda was assigned to Surprise of the Arizona Fall League.
The manager of Surprise will be Mario Lisson, who held the same post with low Single-A Fredericksburg in the Washington system this past year.
Other Washington prospects with Surprise in the AFL includes pitchers Jackson Rutledge, Cole Henry, and Todd Peterson, catcher Drew Millas, acquired from the Oakland Athletics at the deadline, infielder Jackson Cluff, and outfielder Donovan Casey, acquired from LA.
Millas played in 27 games for Wilmington after he was acquired in a trade that sent both Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison to the A’s.
The AFL season begins today...