Acquired: Via trade from the Texas Rangers along with outfield prospect Tim Smith for pitching prospect Danny Gutierrez.
My initial reaction to the trade that brought Manuel Pina to Kansas City was disgust. I knew nothing about the two prospects acquired, but I did know that I was a huge fan of Gutierrez and I believe he had the potential to be a mid rotation guy for the Royals at one point in time. However, once I began a little research on the motivations of the trade I can see why the Royals pulled the trigger. Gutierrez's tiffs with the organization aside, there was something to like about the two prospects. Also considering that the Royals currently are assembling pitching depth but are lacking on the hitting side of things, it seems wise to deal from a strength in order to improve upon a weakness. Since I will later talk about Tim Smtih I will now focus entirely on the other part of the deal, Manuel Pina.
Manuel Pina is a young player for the double A level. He will be 22 years of age to start 2010 and he has received great reviews on the defensive aspect of his game. GM Dayton Moore calls him a "great catch and throw guy," and his career caught stealing percentage of 33% is evidence that the GM knows what he is talking about. I am extremely excited to get to see this defense in person at the Surprise Complex in March, or Springdale soon after, although there is the possibility that Pina starts the year in Omaha.
Pina's bat has progressed slowly, however it has progressed and in double A, Frisco this past season he posted an OPS of .692. While not impressive this figure is the highest that Pina has posted at any stop. Most view Pina as a guy who could one day find a spot on a major league roster as a back up catcher and at this point in time I don't know enough about him nor have I seen enough in his offensive numbers to suggest otherwise. However I do have some optimism that he can continue to improve his slash line and perhaps get his OPS into the .730 region. I feel that if he can reach this level then his defensive abilities would be strong enough to allow him to be a serviceable starting catcher.
Personally I believe that Pina should make a return to the Texas League to begin 2010 and if he deserves it should get an early season promotion to triple A. But most of the reports that I have read expect Pina to begin the year in Omaha. Pina is on the 40 man roster and is listed as third on the Royals depth chart according to kcroyals.com. However, given the current state of the roster there is no need to rush a guy that is in over his head in the batters box in the Texas League. Let him work some things out and maybe he can become more than a future back up.