8/21/23 : Player Spotlights
Every now and again I like to reach out to the players (who am I kidding, that’s a regular occurrence 🤓) and offer encouragement when struggling or applaud their successes when doing well. Two players who’ve performed really well after some adverse times are the subject of today’s player’s spotlights.
OF Leandro Pineda - Jersey Shore - 21 years old - signed as an international free agent - 7/6/18 - Valencia, Venezuela - left handed hitter and thrower - solid corner defender with a plus arm (right-fielder’s arm strength), has good speed. Angular build - 6’1” frame who just looks like a ball player - plays hard and does most things right - wants to improve, will work to do so. Leandro just turned twenty one in early June, he struggled early in the season but found his stroke in July and has been really good in August posting a .340 batting average in 53 AB’s. He’s also been an RBI machine the last two months, 29 with 17 coming in August. Over his last 32 games he’s hit 8 doubles, a triple and 5 home runs while taking 11 walks for a .379 OBP in 129 plate appearances. Leandro’s career numbers don’t jump out at you so if that’s your only perspective you might discount him however there’s genuine baseball talent here that’s ready to blossom. He’s always played as one of the younger players in every league he’s been in to date, the lefty swing he possesses is pure, generates both power and speed, when coupled with a developing ability to recognize pitches along with driving the outside pitch the other way there’s a likelihood that the numbers will be much better going forward, just saying - the kid can play.
2B Oliver Dunn - Reading - 25 years old - selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft on 12/7/22 from the New York Yankees organization - was the Yankee’s 2019 11th round draft selection from the University of Utah. The left handed hitter has had a career year this season posting 23 doubles, 3 triples 21 home runs and 75 RBIs. He’s also drawn 66 walks and has a slash line of .282/.399/.544 with an .943 OPS. He’s played in the most games (98) this summer in his five year career and is amongst the Eastern League leaders in multiple categories. His manager with the Yankees last season was Dan Fiorito who was quoted as saying this about him in an article written on 5/24/22 by Mike Ashmore, a correspondent covering the Somerset Patriots - “He’s just a really smart baseball player, he’s really knowledgeable. Every pitcher that we face, he has a great plan and I know he helps all of his teammates, even in games when he’s not in the lineup. He helps everybody in there, and guys gravitate towards him.” That’s followed thru this season with Reading as he’s been a key contributor both on and off the field. He’s had a torrid month of August - in 18 games he’s hitting .343 in 70 AB’s with a whopping 10 home runs and an outstanding 27 RBIs. He’s posted a .405 OBP. I asked Oliver if he was surprised about being chosen in the Rule five draft and what’s stood out for him this season. “Yes, I was totally surprised. I wasn’t even following the draft when it happened actually. I think the main thing is just getting consistent at bats. That opportunity has really helped me figure out what I do well as a hitter and where I need to improve, and then allowed me to work on it.” Oliver has played primarily second base however has seen some time in left field and third base as well which bodes well for his future advancement, the more defensive versatility a player can display obviously the better. One to watch as a viable big league contributor next season.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Oliver Dunn on left, Leandro Pineda on right - photos by Cheryl Pursell, George Youngs Jr, Mark Wylie and Michael Dolcemascolo
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