On Wednesday morning, the A's set a less than ideal club record, as they placed their 26th player (utility man Tyler Ladendorf) on the disabled list. This followed the news that second baseman Jed Lowrie would be shifted to the 60-day DL, as he is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his foot. In an effort to fill the gaping void left at the keytstone, Chad Pinder has been called-up. Here is what we had to say about the 24-year-old shortstop in our A's top ten prospects list:
If 15-20 homers and 5-10 steals from your middle infielder sounds acceptable, then Pinder could be your guy. Pinder provides a classic case of a prospect whose whole exceeds the sum of his parts, for he lacks a single carrying tool yet does many things well. Defensively, he could play second or third, and it is even possible that he could supplant Marcus Semien at shortstop as early as next summer (though the A's would prefer to see continued development from Semien). As an offensive player, Pinder's only discernible weakness--a big one in this organization--is his inability to control the strike zone (62:243 BB:K in 253 career games). Otherwise, fantasy owners certainly would take back-to-back OPS percentages of .825 and .847 from a middle infielder. Pinder keeps hitting, so chances are good that he'll get to prove himself in Oakland before long.
Pinder was batting a middling at face value .258/.310/.425 at the time of his call-up, with 23 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, and 5 SB in 465 PA at Triple-A Nashville. While that line is undoubtedly solid for a middle infielder, it leaves a bit to be desired, considering his numbers heading into this season. It should be noted, thought, that Nashville is a pitcher-friendly environment, and his numbers reflect this - he hit .273/.336/.445 with 10 of his home runs on the road. This is more in-line with Pinder's performance in 2014 and 2015, when he hit .300 on the nose, with a .487 SLG and 99 XBH in 890 at-bats between High-A and Double-A.
In many ways, Pinder is a bit underrated as a prospect - both in fantasy terms, and in the real world. He is a steady defender at shortstop (though, he'll likely play second for the A's in deference to Marcus Semien), and he should be able to stick there at the highest level. His walk rates are below-average, but that is a product of his aggression, and not a sign of poor pitch recognition; he makes hard contact to all fields, and doesn't roll over the ball too often. Pinder's strikeouts are a product of his slightly long swing more so than strike zone judgment. He also has the ability to hit 30-plus doubles and 18-plus home runs, which would put him in the upper-third of second basemen and shortstops. Pinder might not hit better than .260, and .250 may be more realistic, but his power makes up for that to a considerable degree. And a handful of stolen bases never hurt anyone.
None of that may be particularly sexy, but it makes him a well-rounded asset in every respect.
Pinder may not be a top prospect, which may make him seem like an odd candidate for this series of posts. However, he has the ability to be a legitimate big leaguer, and (most likely) the opportunity to play every day for the remainder of the 2016 season. If you need a bit of help at second base as you enter the playoffs in your league, Pinder may just be your man - and he's available in over 99% of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.