2018 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 Prospects: Number 19 Overall
With February more than halfway over, we have started to rank the Top 20 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. Here is number 19.
Over the years, the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system was considered one of the best farm systems in baseball. However, after enjoying a period of playoff baseball, and in turn picking lower in the draft, they have seen their system fall toward the middle of the pack. Still, rankings by scouting websites are not everything. They have plenty of intriguing prospects who could break out just as much as a team with a top farm system. With that being said, we have come up with our top 20 prospects for the 2018 season. The articles will look at each player, starting at 20 and working toward one. So far we have looked at the number 20 overall, so here is number 19.
Number 19 Prospect: Right-Handed Pitcher Gage Hinsz
In the 2014 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates invested in three big, projectable right-handed pitchers. The Bucs invested in Mitch Keller, Trey Supak, and Gage Hinsz. Keller, a second-round pick, of course, is the pride and joy of the draft class. Meanwhile, Trey Supak was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the 2015 offseason. That leaves Gage Hinsz, who was their 11th round pick. He was considered to be a top-five round talent but slid because of where he came from.
Hinsz was raised in Montana, a state that is not exactly known for developing baseball talent. This is mainly because of the long winter season the occurs in the Northern Mid-West United States. Because of the prolonged winter, teams had very limited scouting of Hinsz compared to other prospects. Also, there was a question of how much experience he had being he was pitching in shorter seasons compared to players down south. So he slid down the draft boards as a result.
However, in typical Pittsburgh Pirates fashion, they were able to invest their saved money from their draft pool and invest it in Hinsz. He got well over the assigned $100K for picks after the 10th round, receiving $580K instead. For what he lacked in experience he made up for in projectability. Currently, Hinsz stands at 6’4” and weighs about 210 pounds, a great frame for a developing pitcher.
Minor League Career
As for his development goes, it is hard to say. He has not put up overly impressive numbers in the minor leagues yet. Across his minor league career, he has thrown in 50 games for 234 innings. and he has posted a 4.46 ERA while punching out 150 batters and walking 83. His strikeout rate per nine innings averages out to be 5.8, which is very underwhelming. However, what he has lacked in strikeouts he has made up for in showing better command. In his first two professional seasons, Hinsz walks per nine was up over 4.5, over the last two seasons it has dropped to below 3.0.
Last year, Hinsz threw 94.1 innings at High-A Bradenton. The Marauders play in the Florida State League, which is considered a more pitcher-friendly league, and he struggled as he posted his first ERA above 3.80 in his career. His ERA on the year was 5.61, but his xFIP ended up at 4.35, suggesting that he should have had better results. Hinsz most likely will be moved to Double-A Altoona this year. The Curve’s ballpark, along with the Eastern League in general, is also known as more of a pitcher’s league. So the big right-hander will have another shot at pitching in a pitcher-friendly environment.
There were many other pitching prospects that had better numbers than Hinsz last season. However, the big thing with him is his potential. Obviously, he has the size that teams like in young starters, he is big at 6’4” and has more room to fill into being 210 pounds. Also, he has the raw fastball velocity sitting at 94-95. If he continues to fill out his big frame, he could reach up to 95-97 as a starter. He also has a plus offering in a curveball but needs to become more consistent with it. If he can develop better command of his breaking pitch, he should start to see his strikeout rate increase. He also throws a change-up, but it is considered an average offering.
This will be a big year for Hinsz’s development. If he is going to become a legitimate prospect he needs to show a much stronger season than he did last. Still, that should be the expectation for him at this point, improvement. He is very projectable and that is why the Bucs were so high on him in the first place. Now, this is the year that he needs to start turning that projectability into actual results.