BRADENTON, Fla. – Shane Baz will start his 2018 season in extended Spring Training, with a shot at reaching West Virginia by the end of April or early May. He’s still making starts with the A-ball teams, although his innings workload will be restricted early in the year. Baz pitched two innings yesterday against the Phillies’ minor league squad in Clearwater, and had a chance to work on a few things he’s been focusing on this spring.
One of the big things he’s been working on has been the quality of his changeup. Now that he’s throwing in games, he’s starting to get some feedback on how the pitch is looking, along with some early results. Baz was very encouraged by his progress yesterday.
“The changeup was the best it’s ever looked today,” Baz said after the game. “I threw two innings. I threw probably six or seven changeups. Only two of them were not quality pitches. All of the others were either taken strikes or swings and misses. So I’m really happy with that, it’s coming along good.”
Baz has plenty of time to work on the pitch. It’s good to see that he’s using it so frequently, which will only help him to improve the pitch and get more comfortable with it over the next month and a half.
Gage Hinsz had a rare shoulder issue last year, where he had a stress fracture in his scapula. The recovery didn’t involve surgery, but did require that he be shut down from pitching for some time. It’s a rare injury that maybe only five players have experienced, so there’s no guide on the recovery process or the ability to bounce back. The good news is that Hinsz was hitting 94 MPH yesterday, showing some of his old velocity. He has also switched to using a two-seam fastball part of the time, which is a new pitch for him this year.
His control was improved prior to the injury, but took a dip after getting hurt. The video below is of his third inning yesterday, where he didn’t have the best stuff. He looked better in the first inning, and looked better in previous outings, but had some trouble in the second and third.
Blake Cederlind was drafted as a hard throwing pitcher in the fifth round in 2016, with the ability to hit 97 MPH. He had a forearm injury, and his velocity was down early in his pro career. It bounced back last year, and has carried over to Spring Training. Yesterday he was consistently hitting 97-98 MPH, and even 95 MPH in the second inning of his outing, with runners on base. Cederlind has been made a reliever, and should be competing for a spot in Bradenton. He has a good looking curveball to go with the fastball, and could be on the fast track if his control looks good this year. That has been an issue for him in the past, and was an issue for him at times yesterday.
Finally, here’s a video of Austin Meadows ripping a line drive single.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.