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Morning Report: High-Priced Arm Has a Tough Debut


Down in the Gulf Coast League on Wednesday afternoon, 11th round draft pick Gage Hinsz quietly made his pro debut. He went 1.2 innings, allowing two runs(one earned) on two hits and one walk, with one strikeout. His first inning started out rough, though it wasn’t totally his fault. Before he knew it, one batter had reached on an error, then moved up on a passed ball, before scoring on a double. Hinsz gave up another double and threw two wild pitches, giving up one more run prior to closing out his first pro inning. On a limited pitch count, he finished his day out nicely, retiring the last three batters he faced.

Hinsz agreed to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 6th for $580,000 and he was the last player they signed from this draft class. The Pirates signed 20 players this year that were drafted after the tenth round. Hinsz was the only one that required more than a $100,000 bonus. That’s the maximum amount a team can spend on a player after the tenth round without using bonus pool money. They gave him $480,000 over-slot, spending their entire savings from the draft bonus pool, plus going 5% over that pool to get him to sign. They ended up paying a tax on his bonus, but anything over 5% would have cost them draft picks in the future. Basically, they paid him the highest price that could and it shows they were willing to pay a tax penalty just to make sure he signed.

It’s likely that no one will remember his pro debut down the line other than Hinsz himself. It will just be a very small sample size from his first taste of pro ball. Hinsz will probably make two more appearances before this GCL season is over, then it’s on to the Fall Instructional League, where he should put in some more innings.

What’s important with him is the scouting report and how he lives up to that.  At 6’4″, 210 pounds, the 18-year-old righty is very projectable on the mound. He sits 90-93 MPH with his fastball and has an easy delivery, throwing on a downhill plane from a three-quarters arm slot. He’s very inexperienced, coming from a high school that didn’t even have a baseball team. His secondary pitches need work, but that’s to be expected considering his situation. Basically he’s a raw pitcher that fits the Pirates mold and his potential is off the charts. He’s the type of pitcher you take a chance on in the draft because the potential payoff can be huge.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates dropped to a 1/2 game up over St. Louis in the first Wild Card spot. They are currently 1.5 games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central

Indianapolis: The Indians are five games back in the International League West, and eight games back in the Wild Card with 19 games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in first place in the Florida State League South, leading by 1.5 games over Palm Beach, who lost last night, while Bradenton was rained out. The Marauders need to win the second half division to make the playoffs.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day: There are a total of ten games on the schedule tonight due to some weather issues for Bradenton and Jamestown that caused them to postpone their games. Each schedule doubleheaders for today. The second most interesting starter going tonight is Buddy Borden for West Virginia. Last week he made two starts and pitched well enough to earn the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week award. Borden has been a little inconsistent in his first full season of pro ball, but he seems to have settled down nicely recently. When he is on, he is very difficult to hit. In 23 starts, he has held the opposition to four hits or less a total of 15 times. Borden also set a career best with ten strikeouts in his last outing. Angel Sanchez in Altoona is another to watch. Since being picked up off waivers, he has pitched decent in his two starts, as he tries to regain his prospect status that had him as high as #8 for the Dodgers entering the 2013 season. Tonight will be the AAA debut for Adrian Sampson, who was called up to Indianapolis on Monday. He looks to continue his breakout season at the next level. Sampson leaves the Eastern League with the second best ERA and WHIP in the league.

MLB: Pittsburgh (64-56) @ Detroit (64-54) 1:08 PM
Probable starter: Franciso Liriano (3.82 ERA, 114:50 K/BB, 108.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (62-63) @ Toledo (61-64) 7:00 PM
Probable starter: Adrian Sampson (NR)

AA: Altoona (54-70) vs Trenton (59-65) 7:00 PM
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (3.27 ERA, 6:2 K/BB 11 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (67-53, 32-19 2nd half) @ Jupiter (43-75) 5:05 PM DH
Probable starterJason Creasy (3.83 ERA, 78:15 K/BB, 124.2 IP) and Shane Carle (4.03 ERA, 70/18 K/BB, 120.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (46-75, 26-27 2nd half) @ Lexington (48-75) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Buddy Borden (3.16 ERA, 103:46 K/BB, 114 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (25-31) vs Auburn (26-30) 5:05 PM DH
Probable StarterFrank Duncan (3.45 ERA, 29:9 K/BB, 44.1 IP) and Montana DuRapau (2.85 ERA, 33:6 K/BB, 41 IP)

RK: Bristol (15-36) @ Kingsport (27-26) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter: Junior Lopez (4.62 ERA, 34:7 K/BB, 37 IP)

GCL: Pirates (17-30) vs Phillies (28-19) 12:00 PM
Probable Starter:  Nick Hutchings (4.72 ERA, 19/9 K/BB, 34.1 IP)

DSL: Pirates (31-32) vs  Angels (28-35) 10:30 AM


It’s been tough to get video of Michael de la Cruz this year in the GCL, even with someone there taping games at least once a week. He missed time with a skin-related issue and an ankle injury, plus a majority of his games have come on the road. From Tuesday, we have two of his at-bats that fall under the “you take what you can get” category. Videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page. It gives you a chance to see him facing a lefty and a righty and you can see the plate patience that earned him high praise last year in the DSL. Hopefully we will have better video of him soon, but for now…

Versus the right-hander

Recent Transactions

8/13: Ernesto Frieri outrighted to Indianapolis.

8/13: Ramon Cabrera claimed off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Assigned to Altoona.

8/13: Wirfin Obispo designated for assignment.

8/12: Brandon Cumpton recalled from Indianapolis. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

8/12: Adrian Sampson promoted to Indianapolis.

8/11: Casey Sadler recalled from Indianapolis. Andrew McCutchen placed on the DL.

8/10: Pirates claim Tommy Field off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels and option him to Triple-A.

8/10: Cody Rhodes assigned to Bristol.

8/10: Justin Topa activated from disabled list. Francisco Diaz placed on DL.

8/9: A.J. Morris assigned to Bradenton.

8/8: Pedro Alvarez activated from the bereavement list. Ernesto Frieri designated for assignment.

8/7: Pirates release Robby Rowland. Jeff Roy activated from disabled list.

8/7: Jay Jackson traded to the Brewers. Jake Brigham activated from disabled list.

8/7: Dean Anna outrighted to Indianapolis.

This Date in Pirates History

This date in Pirates History is all about first basemen, including a player born on this date, whose career had a tragic ending. The Pirates moved from the American Association to the National League in 1887. That is why you usually see “Established in 1887” associated with the Pirates, although the franchise was really born five years earlier. That first NL team had a 30-year-old first baseman named Alex McKinnon. He was tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .340 through 48 games, until he got sick(typhoid fever) in early July and had to leave the team. Twenty days later, he passed away. You can read all of today’s history at this link and a more in depth bio of Alex McKinnon’s life can be found here. The first link also includes a game recap from the 1971 season, as well as another player bio and a transaction of note.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
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.

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