Waitin' With the Wings: Josmil Pinto
This series called "Waiting With the Wings" will profile AAA Red Wings players who are on the brink of a callup and the journey each of them has taken. The first profile in the "Waitin' With the Wings" series was left-handed pitcher Andrew Albers and he had a terrific MLB debut this week. Now it's time to look at a position player and a bat that could be asked to make an impact.
Name: Josmil Pinto
Born: 3/31/1989 (24 years old)
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent (2006)
HT: 5'11"---WT: 210
2013 Stat Line: .311/.410/.480, 14 HR, 25 2B, 70 RBI, 61 R
This article was originally published in blog:
Waitin' With the Wings: Josmil Pinto
Pinto had been considered a solid prospect before this season but his run through the Eastern League and the International League has him moving up the Twins top prospect rankings. The 24-year-old catcher has been with the organization since he was 17 and he has worked all the way from the Venezuelan Summer League to the Triple-A level. One thing has been clear through all of the levels: he can hit.
Out of all of the levels from which Pinto has been promoted, the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues provided the most challenge. In over 220 plate appearances during his time in the VESL, he had to work to hit .251/.336/.344 with 11 extra-base hits. These struggles would continue in the DOSL as his batting line dipped to .193/.327/.269 over 171 at-bats. The Twins were looking for more out of Pinto and they hoped he would be able to find his swing when he started playing in the States.
The next two seasons were fantastic for Pinto in the rookie leagues. He hit for average (.329 BA) and power (.541 SLG and 13 extra-base hits) with the GCL Twins, but this was only the beginning of what was to come. In 2009, he moved up to Elizabethton and really found his power stroke. He knocked 13 home runs and 14 doubles in a little over 200 plate appearances. By the end of the season, Pinto was hitting .332/.387/.610. Things were moving in the right direction and now it was time to tackle a full season schedule.
Pinto spent parts of the next two seasons in the Midwest League with the Beloit Snappers. There can be some adjustment to a full slate of games on the schedule and it took some time for Pinto to feel comfortable. He batted .227/.293/.383 with 11 home runs and 24 doubles over 109 games. The Florida State League was next and this can be a tough league for hitters to find success. Pinto continued to make adjustments and he hit .282/.340/.440 with 53 extra-base hits in 570 plate appearances at High-A. The time was right to move to the upper levels of the Twins farm system.
At the end of the 2012 season, Pinto got a brief taste of life at the Double-A level. He found success almost immediately and this could have helped his breakout year in 2013. New Britain was very good for Pinto as he had a batting average over .300 for the first time since rookie ball. Even with the higher batting average, he was still able to hit for consistent power. His .896 OPS was the highest for him at any full season league and he hit 16 home runs and 27 doubles in 505 at-bats. It was a great run through the Eastern League and so he was promoted to Rochester.
So far, Pinto has been limited in his time at AAA. He has played in six games since being promoted and he has 23 plate appearances. It is a very small sample size but Pinto is hitting .364/.391/.455 with two doubles. He has yet to hit a home run with Rochester but it seems safe to say that won't last too long. Minnesota has used a lot of the players on the 40-man roster at some point this season and Pinto is now only a phone call away.
Defense continues to be a work in progress for Pinto. During his time in the minor leagues, he has thrown out potential base stealers 33% of the time. To put that number into perspective, Joe Mauer has a career 33% caught stealing percentage and he has multiple Gold Gloves in his trophy case at home. Since leaving Beloit in 2011, Pinto has allowed 13 passed balls in 165 games behind the plate. He needs to continue to work on his game-calling skills but his offensive threat might be too much to ignore.
It helps that Pinto is already on the 40-man roster and Ron Gardenhire loves to have extra catchers on his bench. This could mean a September call-up for the young catcher. Pinto had the option of becoming a minor league free agent at the end of last season but he decided to stay with the Twins organization. For both parties involved, this move seems to be paying off and he could make his big league debut in the coming weeks.