Milwaukee Brewers: Manny Piña, another diamond in the rough

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 18: Manny Pina
MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 18: Manny Pina /

Manny Piña began his professional baseball career back in 2005. It has been quite a journey for him. The Milwaukee Brewers are his fifth organization, and it seems he may have finally found a home.

In the minors, Milwaukee Brewers rookie Piña, was known as a “good-field/no-hit catcher“. He was always highly regarded defensively. His bat started coming alive in 2015. And while playing for the Detroit Tigers organization, Piña really started to put it all together.

He was acquired as the player to be named later in 2015 as part of the K-Rod trade. A great addition for organizational depth. Maybe this team’s new “Martin Maldonado“? An above average defender who wouldn’t hit enough to play regularly. Or so I thought.

Manny Piña got his first real shot in the big leagues after the Milwaukee Brewers traded Jonathan Lucroy in 2016. In 33 games with the Crew last season, Piña showed glimpses of his talent. Over 81 plate appearances, he slashed .254/.346/.394., while also doing a solid job behind the plate.

Heading into Spring Training, Piña was part of a three-way battle at catcher due to the Milwaukee Brewers trading to acquire Andrew Susac and Jett Bandy, in August and December, respectively.

In 48 at bats this spring, Piña slashed .396/.408/.771. That’s impressive no matter who you are and granted it was only Spring Training, it gave the organization an idea of what they have. In addition, Piña continued to show his prowess behind the plate.

In late March, Susac was placed on the disabled list. That left the door wide open for Piña. He has seized his opportunity in a big way while splitting time with Bandy and Stephen Vogt behind the plate this season. Piña has performed far beyond expectations.

Through 59 games, Piña has slashed .299/.338/.461 at the plate. He’s chipped in six home runs and 29 runs batted in. He gets solid contact, and can come up with a hit when you least expect it.

Wait there’s more! We haven’t even talked about Piña behind the plate yet. He comes as advertised. Never afraid to throw behind a runner at any base in any situation. He has shown quick glove work and solid blocking skills. He has not disappointed.

In Piña’s 74 games since joining the Milwaukee Brewers, the pitching staff has allowed a .251 batting average while surrendering 80 home runs, as well as 260 earned runs. In addition to a 2.20:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

To give that some context. Last season Jonathan Lucroy played 82 games with Milwaukee. The pitching staff allowed a .264 batting average in those games. In addition to 89 home runs and 330 earned runs. The strikeout to walk ratio was 2.05:1.

Furthermore, behind the plate Piña has only two errors in 449 chances. He does a tremendous job of keeping balls in the dirt in front of him. Piña has allowed only three passed balls so far this season. He’s done everything short of hit home runs for this team.

Next: Keon Broxton sent down

Every season sees a player come out of nowhere, and Piña is that player this year. He is the epitome of what I love about baseball. Every game, he leaves it all out there between the white lines. My hat’s off to you, Manny.