GAGE HINSZ, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: April 20, 1996
Drafted: 11th Round, 341st Overall, 2014
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Billings West (MT)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Hinsz was the Pirates’ first pick on the third day of the 2014 draft, in the 11th round. A 6’4″ right-handed high school pitcher, he fits the Pirates mold of tall, projectable righties. He’s from Montana, a state not known for producing baseball talent, and his high school didn’t even have a team. He pitched in British Columbia and then played American Legion ball in May this year. Baseball America rated him 188th overall in this draft class due in part to a fastball that sat 90-93 MPH in the summer. Hinsz has an easy delivery and throws on a downhill plane from a three-quarters arm slot. Both of his secondary pitches needed work, but he is considered to have a lot of projection left due to inexperience and room to fill out, which should allow him to remain a starter in the pros. He had a commitment to Oregon State and it didn’t look like the Pirates would have enough bonus pool money available to sign him, but he agreed to terms a month after the draft for a bonus that amounted to nearly every dollar the Pirates had left.
Hinsz signed late enough that he got into only three games. He pitched reasonably well considering the layoff, especially in his last game, when he allowed one run and fanned five in four innings.
The Pirates have generally moved their big-bonus prep pitchers to the NYPL for their first full seasons. In the past, though, they didn’t have the option of sending players to advanced rookie ball at Bristol, and that’s where they sent the three above-slot pitchers they drafted in 2014, the others being Mitch Keller and Trey Supak. Hinsz didn’t pitch until three weeks after the start of the season. He got decent results in ten games, nine starts, but had very poor walk and strikeout numbers.
Hinsz’ season was delayed by a spring traffic accident that left him with a concussion. Once he was ready to pitch, the Pirates sent him to West Virginia and he made 17 starts there. Hinsz didn’t have quite the breakout season that Mitch Keller did, but he showed a good deal of promise despite some inconsistency. His fastball was sitting at 93-95 and touching higher, and he showed a sweeping curve that was an out pitch at times, along with a change that still needs work. Hinsz had a low K rate overall, but he got swings and misses at times, such as a three-start stretch beginning at the end of July when he fanned 21 in 15.1 IP. His control improved substantially. For some reason, he had a large reverse platoon split, with right-handed hitters posting an .886 OPS against him and left-handed hitters just .602. Baseball America ranked Hinsz as the South Atlantic League’s 17th best prospect.
Hinsz had a difficult season, struggling with command and shoulder issues. His early season experience set the tone. After scuffling in his first two starts and getting hammered for six runs in an inning and a third in his third start, he put together two strong outings, only to miss his next start due to shoulder soreness. Things went along in much the same fashion until Hinsz finally was shut down in mid-August due to a scapular stress fracture in his right side. The fracture may or may not have been causing him trouble all season. In the end, his numbers were very weak, especially his K rate, but it’s hard to know how much of that reflects a healthy pitcher.
Hinsz was expected to return to Bradenton, but he had open heart surgery to correct a defective valve.
Hinsz recovered from the surgery in time to play winter ball in Puerto Rico and was impressive there. He was expected to open 2019 in the Altoona rotation, but just before the season he went out with a forearm strain. He didn’t return and information on his status was hard to come by.
It’d be nice to see Hinsz make it back, in part because he looked very good in winter ball. He’ll be a minor league free agent after the 2020 season.
|2020: Minor league contract|
|Signing Bonus: $580,000
MiLB Debut: 2014
MiLB FA Eligible: 2020
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2018
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 7, 2014: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 11th round, 341st overall pick; signed on July 6.|