Pinango Passed His First Test

Pinango Tossed Five Shutout Innings On Sunday

Finally healthy after two injury plagued years, Miguel Pinango appears recovered and poised to continue climbing through the ranks of the Mets farm system. After his first start on Sunday, Pinango and the Mets feel good about his progress thus far.

The twenty-three year old right hander hasn't played a full season since 2003, when he showed promising signs with Capital City, going 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA. Arm and shoulder woes cut his 2004 and 2005 seasons in St. Lucie short, culminating in Tommy John surgery last summer.

But Miguel Pinango feels he's fully recovered from the procedure, insisting that he felt "100 percent" at this early stage of the season.

"I don't think it's going to have a long term effect because it's a popular surgery and I feel 100%," said the native of Venezuela through a translator. His confident words followed an impressive 2006 debut, throwing five shutout innings Sunday, in his first AA start at Binghamton.

Pitching coach Mark Brewer diagnosed flaws in Miguel's delivery that have led to his frequent injury problems.

"In the past I think he's put a little stress on his arm because of mechanics," said Brewer.

Pinango is a control pitcher by trade, boasting a gaudy 1.59 walks per nine innings average over his career. Relying mostly on his fastball, it has been the strength of Miguel's secondary pitches that need development. It was clear on Sunday, at least, that those had improved.

"He's got a good changeup, and he gets his curveball over for strikes," said B-Met catcher Andrew Wilson, who was behind the plate on Sunday. "He looks better every time, and he looks a little better from how he did last year when I was catching him."

But according to Binghamton GM Juan Samuel, Pinango should continue to rely on his fastball, which topped out in the high 80's on Sunday.

"A lot of times these young arms have a tendency to throw too many breaking balls, and go away from the fastball," said Samuel. "We are monitoring how many fastballs and breaking balls these guys throw to make sure we keep everything even."

Despite Sunday's solid outing, both coaches agree that we haven't seen the best of Pinango, even if he is fully recovered.

"I think probably when the weather starts heating up, and these guy's pitch counts start getting a little higher, you'll probably see his velocity pick up," said Samuel, who was already impressed with the zip on his pitches during Spring Training.

Pitching coach Mark Brewer added, "I've heard he possesses more than what we've seen up to this point."

But Miguel Pinango will have to prove he can stay healthy in order to prove he's got what it takes to attract the attention of Mets brass and to deem himself worthy of promotion. Performing at his top ability remains his primary goal for the upcoming season.

"I want to do the best I can, pitching-wise," he said, "and help the team, whatever they need me to do."

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