Scouting Yankees Prospect #24: Branden Pinder

Pinder was downright dominating at season's end

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Branden Pinder in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Long Beach State. Proving to be a quick mover, he followed up his tremendous debut season with Staten Island in 2011 with another very good season in 2012 that concluded with a late-season promotion to Double-A.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Branden Pinder
Position: Pitcher
DOB: January 26, 1989
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"It went pretty well," he said of his season. "In the beginning of the season my goal was to get called up to Double-A which I did so I accomplished that goal.

"I had a rough couple of months and towards the end of the season I came back to do pretty well the last couple of months. I was mainly getting acclimated to the new hitters, the new league, and my pitch location just wasn't up to par from what I thought."

There was a clear adjustment time needed after he skipped the low-A level entirely and began his first full season with the high-A Tampa Yankees. He posted just a 5.68 ERA through his first seven appearances but finished his time in Tampa with a 2.79 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings.

Not only did it take a little bit of time to adjust to the new hitters, but the former college starting pitcher was also working on further developing his changeup and bettering the command of his plus fastball.

"I was mainly working on my changeup and my pitch location [in 2012]," he admitted. "I wanted to throw my changeup for strikes, mainly against lefties, and with my pitch location I wanted to hit that down and away outside corner to right-handers and then the same thing to left-handers -- either come in on them or going away."

Armed with a plus fastball and a slider that flashes plus potential, Pinder has been actively working on improving his rather average changeup, one that does show above average long-term potential.

"When it's good, it moves," he said. "That's what I mainly want it to do, to move. I don't care if it's hard or whatnot but as far as the speed difference I am trying to get it to slow down a little bit just to get the hitters a little more off-balance."

The good news is his other pitches are advanced enough that he has time to further work on perfecting the changeup. As good as his fastball can be, a pitch that tops out at 97 mph pretty routinely, his slider is a go-to pitch.

"I like it a lot. I can throw in behind in counts, ahead in counts, and mainly put it where I want to put it. I can throw it in the dirt or if they're expecting the fastball 0-2 -- sometimes when I'm ahead I'll come with another fastball on the outside corner or up and in -- if they're expecting the fastball I'll throw the slider for a strike."

He has the weapons to get any batter out but what he has also proven is he has the confidence to handle anything thrown his way too.

"He's overmatching hitters right now," Tampa pitching coach Jeff Ware said. "He has the plus fastball, and the way his slider has been tilting, he really is just overmatching hitters."

"I've always been confident," Pinder added. "That's really not the issue with me. I wanted to have another good year like [in] Staten Island. The numbers I had in Staten Island were pretty good and I knew I wasn't going to have that good a year, but I knew I wanted to have a really good year.

"I pretty much expected myself to get up to Double-A either towards the end of the season like I did or whatever -- I just wanted to get there. I knew I could do it," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2012

Trenton

0-0

0

1.1

1

0

0

0.00

2012

Tampa

2-6

9

67.2

70

29

67

2.79

2011

Staten Island

2-2

14

31.0

16

5

38

1.16



Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Pinder is all about the power four-seam fastball. He usually sits anywhere from the 92-95 mph range with his fastball and he'll routinely top around 97 mph, and his heater has some late life to it. While the velocity is top notch, the command can be spotty at times when he's not attacking batters and trying to be too fine with his location. When he's aggressive though on the inner-half of the plate his fastball is a devastating pitch.

Other Pitches. Pinder's slider can be inconsistent. Most days it's a true plus big league pitch, one that ranges from 86-89 mph and shows more curveball-like downward depth than sweeping slider motion. However, there are times where it's more side to side and his location can evade him. When it's going right though he can make hitters look foolish. Arm speed-wise and when it gets good fading action, Pinder's changeup shows above average potential. However, way too firm right now, sitting mostly in the 88-90 mph, he could benefit greatly from slowing it down and command it better.

Pitching. Pinder is a fastball heavy pitcher, plain and simple. He goes right after batters with an array of power fastballs to get ahead early in counts, and he'll even show nothing but fastballs in a particular plate appearance. He has a wicked slider in his back pocket when it's going right and a changeup that can be hit or miss. He's not as wild as his somewhat high walk totals in 2012 would suggest -- that was more about working on location than delivery issues. A former starting pitcher in college, he has shown good pitch-ability when the situations call for mixing his pitches more.

Projection. Pinder has one of the highest back-end of the bullpen type ceilings in the Yankee farm system. He fastball alone is good enough to get most hitters out on a given day but then he also has a slider that flashes plus potential and a changeup that is quickly coming along too. He has big league closing potential. He's another one who compares favorably to David Robertson because of the late life and deception with his fastball, and if the slider can become the consistent plus pitch many believe it can be, he could have a similar impact on a big league bullpen.

ETA. 2014. We warned folks a year ago that Pinder could move fast and that's exactly what he's doing. He'll open up in Double-A Trenton in 2013 and if things track like they have been then he'll be a viable big league bullpen option the following year.

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