The 2021 minor league has been marred by a rash of injuries to some of the Cubs’ top prospects. Brailyn Márquez, Miguel Amaya, Kohl Franklin, Jack Patterson, and many more suffered from some malady or other that is keeping them off the field. However, there are some prospects who are taking advantage of that situation to showcase what they can do with a bat or a ball in their hands. One such player is Myrtle Beach outfielder Yohendrick Pinango (Pee-yang-go).
Pinango is displaying his ability to hit to all fields while also being a top-of-the-order kind of bat. And here’s the kicker: He’s just 19 years old.
From: Carora, Venezuela
Signed as an IFA on July 2, 2018
Pinango took the Dominican Summer League by storm in 2019, earning an All-Star berth by hitting .358 with a .427 on-base percentage. He did not hit any home runs, but he stole 27 bases and had a wRC+ of 145.
While some people were enamored with the overall results of that season, what caught my eye were his monthly splits. After hitting .391 with a .475 OBP in June, the league adjusted a little bit to him in July as he only hit .300 in July. Then he stormed back in August by hitting .397 to end the year.
During the pandemic, Pinango worked on his swing and gained some muscle. He was more than ready to basically skip two levels of development and end up in Myrtle Beach in 2021.
Yohendrick Pinango shows all the traits you want to see out of a young hitter.
The Cubs outfielder is one of 60 potential breakout prospects in 2021 👇https://t.co/2M4JxzfXgj
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) March 5, 2021
He made several prospects lists in advance of the season, including our own Prospect Stock Watch and the Top 20 Bats compiled by Cubs Insider’s Greg Huss. MLB Pipeline has Pinango ranked No. 13 in the system and provides a glowing review of his talent in their brief scouting report.
Pinango has one of the smoothest left-handed swings among Cubs prospects and is one of the most advanced young hitters in the system. He doesn’t try to do too much at the plate, and he controls the strike zone and uses the opposite field extremely well. While he didn’t homer in his introduction to pro ball, he has some raw power and should provide 12-15 homers per season as he gets stronger and learns to turn on pitches and launch them in the air more frequently.
Pinango is usually hitting second or third in the lineup for the Pelicans this season, but he hasn’t always gotten many pitches to hit. It’s not that he is being pitched around, but people in the Low-A East began to take notice after a quick start his first week. Still, Pinango had some success in May, hitting .250 with one home run and 10 RBI.
So far in June, however, his teammates began to step it up. It is a lot easier to hit with men on in front of you than an empty field. As a result, Pinango’s seeing better pitches to hit and he is killing it at the plate. Heading into the weekend of June 11, he was hitting .353 for the month with one home run and a .410 on-base percentage.
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) June 6, 2021
Watching Pinango hit, it’s very easy to fall in love with what he can do with a bat. He uses all fields and teams don’t really deploy shifts against him, giving him more room to hit. He tracks the ball extremely well and can hit fastballs as well as curveballs, which is an important step in his development.
Part of me says to leave him at Myrtle Beach all year because he’s only 19 (but his hitting mind is older) and there’s no reason to rush him to South Bend. The other part of me says let’s see what happens over the next 4-6 weeks if he continues his current stretch of hard-hitting. If he’s no longer being challenged at his current level, he needs to move up.
The hardest part of determining what is best for Pinango is his continued physical development. He’s getting stronger seemingly by the day, which you can see in the way he drives the ball and goes the other way with a pitch. To wit, 44.6% of his hits are to left field and only 29.7% are to right. That’s going to play at the next level, or any level.
Yohendrick with his first hit of the year pic.twitter.com/kpmQ8eRP25
— TheBullpen🐾 (@RealCubsAnalyst) May 5, 2021
Playing for legendary skipper Buddy Bailey right now is the best thing for Pinango because he’s going to learn a lot about how to grind it out over a 120-game season. Learning what he needs to do to take care of himself physically and mentally over that stretch is at least as important as any statistical production at this early stage.