Orioles pitching prospect looking to turn heads

Pitcher Jean Pinto appeared in his first spring training game 11-days ago

Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect and 2023 standout Jean Pinto tosses warm up with teammates at the team’s spring training complex. (Photo by Christian Larsen) 

SARASOTA, Fla. – Coming off a strong 2023 campaign, 23-year-old Orioles pitching prospect Jean Pinto is looking to build from that momentum in his first-ever stint in the Grapefruit League.

On Feb. 26, the right-hander came on in relief against the more experienced Atlanta Braves. A leadoff home run, a walk, a strikeout, a single, preceded a double-play to end the inning. Not the best spring debut, but the challenge was a lesson he will learn and apply for seasons to come.

“It was such a beautiful experience for me,” Pinto said through an interpreter, at the club’s minor-league facility. “I’m really looking forward to growing and developing so I can be there. That’s where I want to be.

“It’s obviously a different level so I really look forward to continuing.”

Pinto began playing baseball at age 6. Growing up in Venezuela, he idolized Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. When asked if there is a major-league pitcher he admires, a former Blue Jay and newly-signed Yankee pitcher came to mind.

“I like Marcus Stroman. I am a big fan,” Pinto said. “I really enjoy the way he pitches and the way he goes about his work. I feel that one day maybe I can just be like him.”

Pinto initially signed with the Los Angeles Angels, at 19-years-old as an international free agent in May of 2019 and was dealt to the Orioles in December 2020, as part of the Jose Iglesias trade.

The right-hander impressed in his first season with the organization as a starting pitcher in 2021, blazing through Rookie and Low-A ball before becoming the youngest pitcher to throw for the Class-A Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2022.

But he struggled to throw strikes and the walk rate crept up – 46 in 91.2 innings.

“My command was not at my best point,” he said. “I really worked a lot in that offseason of when 2023 came about, I was going to be ready and do a better job.”

Improvement followed. Pinto enjoyed a great stint with High-A Aberdeen in 2023, posting a 2.75 earned-run average with 73 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. After 32 career starts with the Ironbirds, Pinto was called up to Double-A Bowie in June, making four starts and five appearances as a reliever.

“My mindset was to show everybody that I wanted to be in another league and not stay in the same league,” said Pinto. “I kept working and adding more to my workload.”

After missing games last season due to injury, Pinto spent the recent offseason focusing on his health, along with fine tuning his pitch arsenal. Orioles Director of Player Development, Anthony Villa, talked highly about the right-hander’s progress heading into the new season.

“He has had great off-speed stuff in the past and he’s been working on fastball shapes,” said Villa. ”That sinker is coming about nicely and he’s been great for us.”

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Posted: Mar 6 2024 10:18 am
Filed under: Baseball Sports