The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with an unexpected gem from the late rounds of the 2012 draft.
Position: 1B Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6'0" Weight: 225 lbs.
Age: 23 Born: 9/5/89
2012 Season Stats
Rookie: 325 PA, .338 AVG, .443 OBP, .586 SLG, 21 2B, 0 3B, 15 HR, 57 RBI, 52 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS, .368 BABIP
Contact – B. For a power hitter, Hinkle actually makes an exceptional amount of contact. He hit for average while playing at Kansas State and that trend continued in the very hitter friendly Pioneer League. He shouldn’t have any problem hitting for average, especially if he ends up skipping Burlington and going straight to the Cal League.
Power – B. Hinkle didn’t hit for a ton of power until his senior year at Kansas State. But seeing his swing and build, Hinkle’s power really is authentic. So his 20+ doubles and 15 homeruns in 70 games in the Pioneer League were not entirely surprising. This power should remain consistent through the higher levels of the minors.
Discipline – B. Hinkle perfectly fits what Dipoto was searching for in this last draft. They’ve left behind the raw but toolsy high schoolers in favor of more refined college players. Hinkle is exceptional at controlling the strike zone. I’m not convinced his OBP will remain so high as he progresses, because he was clearly over-prepared for Rookie Ball, but until he proves incapable of drawing a walk, I’ll assume he can and will.
Speed – D. Usually, this category wouldn’t bother me because Hinkle is a first baseman and those guys in general aren’t fast. But if Hinkle wants to carve out a role with the Angels in the future, chances are he’ll need to learn to play the outfield. Under no circumstance can I envision Hinkle being a good defensive outfielder.
Arm – B-. Hinkle’s arm is well above average, and he’s left-handed which helps his case for a potential move to the outfield.
Performance – B. I consider this year a success for Hinkle. For starters, he posted very good numbers at Kansas State, second, he was drafted and signed, and finally, he posted very good power numbers in Rookie Ball and drew walks. In a system full of free swingers, seeing hitters like Hinkle come in is a breath of fresh air.
Projection – C-. Hinkle’s 23 years old, so physically he’s done maturing, so to an extent, what we see is what we are getting, which isn’t necessarily bad in this case. He’s not a prospect that’s going to excite a ton of people, but if he lives up to his billing as a power hitter that makes good contact and gets on base, I see no reason why he couldn’t grace a major league roster as a corner outfielder, first baseman, DH or even a power bat off the bench. Mike Trout, he is not, but he could definitely be a Daric Barton or Russell Branyon type of role player.
(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)
Season Summary: Look at Hinkle's stats earlier in this post, now realize that he was taken in the 27th round out of Kansas State. College players can certainly thrive in rookie ball, but Hinkle came out of nowhere and absolutely demolished the Pioneer League. Heck, his college numbers pale in comparison to what he did in 72 games at Orem, especially in the pwoer department. Hinkle's calling card in college was his ability to get on base, posting a .482 OBP in his senior season, which was the 20th best mark in all of D-I. Seeing him carry that over to the minors was no surprise, but seeing him suddenly start crushing the ball upon jumping to pro ball and using wooden bats was surprising, even if he does project to have good pwoer. To be fair, he did slug .532 in his senior season, but he also hit a mere two homers his junior campaign so his power looks like it might finally be coming in.
The one area where Hinkle did not excel was in the field. Nominally, he is a first baseman, but he is a bit small for the position and doesn't appear to be all that good there. Minor league fielding stats are to be taken with a mine of salt, but it definitely raises eyebrows when you see that Hinkle got tagged with 14 errors in just 67 games at first base.
What to Expect in 2013: Personally, I'd like to see the Angels challenge Hinkle and jump him straight to Advanced-A in 2013, which I suspect they will do. The club shouldn't waste any time trying to figure out if Hinkle's monster debut was really because he has so much talent or if he simply was a man playing amongst boys in rookie ball. There is little doubt that Hinkle has contact skills and approach to survive at that level, but the increased competition should be able to expose his power as a legit or not and whether or not his plate discipline is really as advanced as it seems, even in a hitter-friendly environment like the Cal League. If he is able to put up numbers that aren't too far off than what he did in his rookie league debut, Hinkle could find himself getting a lot more attention from the prospect gurus this time next year.
It also wouldn't hurt to see if Hinkle can hack it in the outfield since he is too young to pigeon-hole into DH and potentially too good with the bat to shove into the organizational logjam at first base. Given his lack of athleticism, Hinkle is unlikely to be asset in the outfield, but if he can just be better than a liability, his bat can do the rest of the work of getting him into the majors.