Friday, March 25, 2016

Veracruz sells OF Jeremias Pineda to Marlins

On the heels of a successful season of winterball in which he played a key role for the Mazatlan Venados in winning both the Mexican Pacific League playoffs and the Caribbean Series, 25-year-old outfielder Jeremias Pineda's rights have been sold by the Mexican League's Veracruz Rojo Aguilas to the Miami Marlins for the coming summer season.  Pineda subsequently signed a three-year contract with Miami.

The switch-hitting Dominican batted .292 for the Deer during the regular season, leading the MexPac in runs scored (50) and stolen bases (31 of 36 attempts) while coming in second to Mexicali's Welington Dotel in hits with 80 in 68 games.  While Pineda struggled in the Serie del Caribe by going just 3-for-20 with no steals, he contributed mightily to the Venados' 80-4 win over Puerto Rico's Santurce on February 5 by singling, doubling, tirpling, scoring three runs and driving in two more as Mazatlan clinched a berth in the CS semifinals.

Pineda made his Mexican League debut with Veracruz in 2015 and was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak season for the Red Eagles, who finished 48-65 to finish last in the LMB South.  Pineda was third on the squad with a .292 batting average (the team was last in the Liga with a .262 mark) while topping the circuit with 60 steals.  On the other hand, he led the LMB with 17 times caught stealing and was second in strikeouts with 104 so his first summer in Mexico fell short of idyllic.

The Marlins are the third MLB organization to have Pineda in their system.  The 5'11", 190-pounder nicknamed "The Jet Blue" signed a free agent contract as a 20-year-old with Boston for the 2011 season and split that year between the Red Sox' Rookie clubs in the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League, hitting a combined .188.  He spent the entire 2012 campaign in the GCL, during which he was traded to the Twins.  Pineda fared much better that time around with a .365 average and 23 steals in 52 games.  He then spent two more years in the Minnesota system with Class A Cedar Rapids and Rookie Elizabethton but hit below .240 both seasons and had his problems in the field as well before being released following the 2014 season.

When announcing finalization of the sale to Miami, El Dictamen of Veracruz reports that Red Eagles chairman Jose Antonio Mansur said, "Pineda came with us to spring training last year in Tucson, showed very well and won a spot on the roster.  We thought that, because he's young, we'd take it step-by-step but you see the results: He won the stolen base title for both of Mexico's leagues and now he's going to the Marlins, which reaffirms us as an organization open to the advancement of our players."

Just in case, Veracruz will retain Pineda's rights in the Mexican League should he return south of the border.