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Texas notes: Pinder rolls with the punches

A's prospect embracing change back to shortstop with RockRounds
July 14, 2015

Chad Pinder thought his role within the Oakland Athletics organization had been figured out last season.

A shortstop in high school and an outfielder and third baseman in college, Pinder settled into second base at Class A Advanced Stockton last year, since the A's had other highly ranked prospects occupying other parts of the infield.

"It was awesome," Pinder said. "I loved playing second base."

Then the reality of professional baseball was set into motion.

The A's traded prospect Addison Russell to the Chicago Cubs last July and then Daniel Robertson to the Tampa Bay Rays in January. Both Russell and Robertson are shortstops, leaving Oakland with a hole at the position in its system. That caused another move for Pinder, this time back to short, the first position he played and one he spent time at in 2013 after being drafted in the second round.

"That's just baseball," he said of the switch. "That's going to happen."

Pinder has rolled with the changes as well as possible.

Pinder, the Athletics' No. 8 prospect, said he began prepping for the move back to short before even officially being told, taking ground balls at the position during the winter. Then, the day he arrived in Arizona, he was told that's where he would play. Though an expected move, Pinder said the A's confidence in him to make the switch was a boost.

"For them to trust me, my first full season at shortstop, to put me at Double-A, absolutely," he said.

Pinder admitted that a quicker reaction time is needed at short than at other positions he's played, he said he's grown comfortable in his return to his original defensive home. There's still room for improvement, though, as evidenced by his 13 errors, the most by a Texas League shortstop.

"I feel at home," he said, "but I still have a long way to go to be as good as I want to be or as good as I think I can be there."

One positive is that Pinder doesn't think his focus on defense has taken away from his offense.

Pinder, a starter in this year's Texas League All-Star Game, was hitting .297 through Sunday's games and is on pace to top last year's totals in home runs (he has eight), doubles (16) and RBIs (47). Pinder hit .371 in June, though he missed 11 games with a minor hip injury.

"Obviously you have to make time for both," he said of his work on offense and defense. "You just have to know where you need to be and spend time not only on what you're good at, but what you're struggling at."

Pinder doubled and scored in Sunday's 2-0 victory at Northwest Arkansas, extending his hitting streak to seven games. There are strides to be made at the plate, though, such as working better counts for himself. Pinder struck out 99 times in 94 games and drew just 22 walks last year. This year, he's struck out 67 times and walked 22 times in 73 games.

"It's just the ability to get good pitches to hit," he said. "The walks are going to come for me. The biggest thing is putting myself in good positions to hit and not swinging at pitches early that get myself in position to strike out more."

In brief

Solid return: Springfield shortstop Aledmys Diaz has had a solid rebound after being taken off the St. Louis Cardinals' 40-man roster. Diaz, 24, was designated for assignment July 8 and, after clearing waivers, returned to Double-A on July 10. He doubled twice that day at San Antonio, then went 3-for-4 with a home run the next night at Corpus Christi. Diaz is hitting .243 this season with four home runs, 25 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

Gaining traction: Colin Moran has had a hard time getting into a groove for the Corpus Christi Hooks. The third baseman, ranked No. 7 among Houston Astros prospects, has had two stints on the disabled list with an ankle injury and broken jaw. Moran just completed what could be considered his best week of the season, though. Moran went 3-for-4 with an RBI in Sunday's victory over Springfield, capping a week in which he went 11-for-29 (.379) with five RBIs. Moran is hitting .276 this season and has driven in 34 runs in 48 games.

Solid spot start: Frisco's Edwar Cabrera has been pitching out of the bullpen for much of this season. The veteran right-hander handcuffed the Arkansas Travelers on Saturday night in his first start after being moved to the rotation. Cabrera, 28, held the Travelers to one hit and struck out five over five innings in a 7-6 victory. It was just the third start in 17 appearances this season for Cabrera, who has a 3.55 ERA and has struck out 32 batters in 38 innings pitched this season.

Troy Schulte is a contributor to