At just 20 years of age, South Bend’s Yohendrick Pinango is doing everything right.
Pinango, who signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old as part of the Chicago Cubs’ 2018-19 international class, first stepped foot in professional baseball in 2019. As a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League hit .358 with a .442 slugging percentage. One aspect of Pinango’s game that became apparent off the bat was his speed as he stole 27 bases.
The pandemic struck and caused Pinango to miss two full seasons of organized baseball. Returning in 2021, the Cubs thought it best for Pinango to start at Single-A, where he competed against guys who, on average, were two years older. Pinango responded beautifully as he slashed .272/.322/.370 and put some power on display with four home runs.
Chicago Cubs: A unique talent sent awaiting his chance
Last season was all about resilience and aptitude for the 20-year-old. Having performed with the numbers he posted in Myrtle Beach, Pinango got a taste of even higher-level baseball after being promoted to High-A South Bend. As a teenager, Pinango was even younger than the average player at that level. Yet, he responded by hitting an astounding .289 and displayed he could hang with the big boys.
The Cubs have a lot of unique talent waiting in the wings, but Pinango seems like a particular type of talent. For the record, he stands shy of six feet tall and weighs 170 pounds. However, he has shown the drive to continue being a great ballplayer. At the beginning of this season, Pinango was ranked as the number ten overall prospect in the Cubs system.
That ranking has since dropped a bit. However, he is still in the top fifteen and ranks number 13 overall, currently at the halfway mark of the season. His maturity to make contact and see pitches will help him continue to make an impact across each of the future levels, and someone, this new version of the Cubs, will appreciate.
Pinango is Rule 5 eligible this upcoming December. However, it would be foolish for the Cubs not to protect his talent. This season, Pinango began at High-A and has performed at a career-best. He continues to be one of the youngest players in the league and yet has managed to slash .296/.332/.480 with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases with a 123 wRC+ in 81 games.
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For these numbers alone, it is high time the Cubs promote Pinango to Double-A Tennessee to see what he can do. It is likely he would struggle; however, there is good in seeing what it would look like from Pinango’s perspective, as well as showing him he is a talent the Cubs believe in for their future.