Only one-and-a-half seasons into his professional career, Chad Pinder has been asked to make a lot of adjustments. Thus far, he has answered the bell each time he has been asked to make a change.
A star infielder for the Virginia Tech Hokies in college, Pinder was selected in the compensatory round by the Oakland A’s in 2013. He struggled during his pro debut season with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters, missing time with injury and batting only .200/.286/.293. That fall, Pinder worked with the A’s minor league coaching staff on several adjustments to his hitting mechanics. He was a quick study and came out swinging during the spring of 2014.
The A’s front office believed in Pinder’s talent and didn’t allow 40-odd games in the New York-Penn League to sway their opinion on what he could handle during his first full professional season. They jumped him up all the way to High-A Stockton, where he was asked to once again make a significant adjustment. This time, it was a new position in the field. A third baseman and shortstop in college, Pinder had very little experience at second base. However, with fellow prospect Daniel Robertson on the Stockton roster, the A’s asked Pinder to make the move to second. He responded with an excellent season at the plate (824 OPS) and showed promise with the glove at his new position.
During the off-season, the A’s traded Robertson to the Tampa Bay Rays. In doing so, the A’s created an opening at the Double-A level at shortstop. This spring, they asked Pinder once again to make an adjustment, this time moving back to shortstop.
The 23-year-old is taking all of the changes in stride.
“Spring is going great,” Pinder said. “I feel really great at shortstop. It has been nice to make the transition back. Obviously everyday I’m working hard at getting better and getting all of the reps back. I’m working hard to get better, but still trying to keep my options open at second and wherever else they need me. But right now, I’m pretty happy with where I am at.”
Pinder has been in Arizona since mid-February as one of the participants in the A’s minor league mini-camp. Over the past six weeks, Pinder has worked diligently on improving his approach at the plate. As good as his overall numbers were with Stockton last season, Pinder’s K:BB was 99:22. He knows that as he moves higher in professional baseball, he will need to be able to have a more selective approach.
“I have basically just been working on getting deeper in counts and on my two-strike approach,” Pinder said. “Kind of limiting the strike-outs and working on the walks. I think as I grow as a player and get more at-bats, that will come. That’s been the emphasis for this spring, really working on the two-strike approach.”
Although not an official member of the A’s big league camp, Pinder has been a regular presence at major league camp this spring. He appeared in seven big league spring games and was on the travel squad for a few others. Although he got only four big league plate appearances, Pinder got a lot out of his time with the A’s big league squad.
“I spent a lot of time watching [Marcus] Semien at shortstop and learning the things that he does,” Pinder said. “It has been awesome to learn from him and watch him and how he goes about his business before the game and during the game, and the different approaches he takes to different groundballs at shortstop. It’s been great watching him.”
There was some concern that Pinder might be behind in terms of getting the at-bats he needed to prepare for the minor league season because of the time he had spent at major-league camp. Pinder feels he is right on course to be ready for Opening Day, however.
“This past weekend, I was in minor league camp the entire weekend, so I got about 12 at-bats,” Pinder said. “Anytime you are over in big league camp, you are learning just as much, I think both sides have been awesome. Right now, I am starting to feel a little more comfortable at the plate. It’s been really nice.”
The A’s plan to send Pinder to Double-A Midland, but Pinder isn’t too focused on where he is going to be playing during the regular season just yet.
“Wherever they send me, I’m just excited to get it started,” Pinder said.