When the Pittsburgh Pirates took right-handed pitcher Gage Hinsz in the 11th round, there were no guarantees they would sign him. The 18-year-old was almost taken in the second round according to Hinsz himself, but he passed on a pre-draft offer. The Pirates ended up taking him nine rounds later and agreed to an over-slot bonus of $580,000, the maximum they could pay him without incurring heavy penalties for going over their draft bonus pool.
Baseball America released their draft grades today and named Hinsz the top late-round draft pick, which is anyone taken and signed after the tenth round. Hinsz is big and raw, but he already hits 93 MPH with his fastball and does it with a clean, easy delivery. He already has strong command of his fastball and he came from a high school that didn’t have a team. He is a highly projectable pitcher, with tons of upside and there is a chance that he ends up as the best pick the Pirates made this year. With his limited experience, room to grow and the abilities he already possesses, Hinsz could easily live up to Baseball America’s choice as the top late-round pick.
We have a recap of his first start as a pro, which includes video of every single pitch he made that day. You can view that here. He ended up making three appearances in the GCL this season, throwing a total of eight innings.
No other Pirates were on the various lists and Pittsburgh wasn’t ranked among the top five teams in the draft.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.