PHOENIX—Two years after Montana produced its highest high school draftee in more than 40 years, Braves fourth-round outfielder Justin Black, the Treasure State has another interesting prospect in 6-foot-5, 210-pound righthander Gage Hinsz, who pitched for the Big Sky Baseball team, composed of players from Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota.
The Arizona Senior Fall Classic provides scouts important looks at players from non-traditional baseball states, and talent evaluators came in droves to see Hinsz’s three innings, when he struck out four and walked two. His fastball was 89-91 mph in his first inning before dropping to the mid-to-high 80s over the next two innings. He has an easy delivery and easy arm action with a quick arm, and he gets downhill plane from a high three-quarters arm slot.
“I try to keep my mechanics simple and don't try to do some quirky other things because being where we are we don't get the repetitions to maintain that,” Hinsz said.
Hinsz established his fastball early, then showed feel for a 75-77 mph curveball (that fell to 72-73 in his third inning) with good vertical tilt that has the potential to be an average offering with continued development. He threw one changeup at 82 mph.
Hinsz has a strong pitcher’s build with an extra-large frame featuring long extremities, present strength and substantial room for further physical development. The Oregon State commit used to play basketball but stopped to focus on baseball workouts. Considering his build, easy delivery and his locale, Hinsz offers considerable projection.
Montana does not have high school baseball and offers American Legion baseball as the calendar turns to May.
“We try to get outside and throw as much as we can as soon as the weather clears up, as long as there isn't snow on the ground we will be out there,” Hinsz said. “We don't mind throwing in 30 degree weather.”
Montana had snow flurries toward the end of September and got more than 10 inches of snow last week. The Blue Sky Baseball team has enjoyed the beautiful weather, clear skies and sun shining as much as any team over the last few days in Peoria, Ariz.
“This is my third time down here and by this time of year we usually get snow and so when we go back we make everybody jealous when we talk about the weather,” Hinsz said.
The highest drafted Montana high school pitcher in the last 40 years was selected in the sixth round, 1984 righthander Greg Stading.
• The Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Division I sophomore all-star game was the final game of the day. The junior-college showcase format allowed each pitcher to face six hitters, providing players an opportunity in front of a large contingent of college coaches and scouts at Peoria Stadium. Cochise JC righthander Josh Advocate retired every hitter he faced. The athletic 6-foot-1, 190-pound Advocate touched 92 and sat 88-89 mph with his fastball. He pitched off of his 77-79 mph curveball, which had depth from a nearly overhand arm slot, and used it early in counts. Advocate also mixed in an occasional changeup.
Pima CCC lefthander Cole Plouck struck out three of the six hitters, sitting 89-90 mph. He has a quick arm from a three-quarters slot, some effort and deception to his delivery with a very high leg kick. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Plouck showed some shape to a 71-73 mph curveball and threw one changeup at 79.
• After a strong first day, Arizona Baseball Club Dodgers outfielder Ernie De La Trinidad continued to hit. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder showed pull-side power and hit a triple on the first day and picked up two singles against good pitching. This came a day after he registered two interceptions for the No. 1 ranked football team in the Grand Canyon State, Mountain Pointe High in Phoenix. The 5-foot-8 De La Trinidad ran the 60 yard dash in 6.8 seconds, according to coaches. Scouts compared him to a smaller David DeJesus.
• Cardinals scout team righthander Nolan Kingham, a junior from Las Vegas’ Sierra Vista High, touched 92 in his first inning and sat 86-88 in subsequent innings. The younger brother of Pirates farmhand Nick, Nolan showed feel for a 79-82 mph changeup thrown with good arm speed. His 73-75 mph breaking ball showed tight 11-5 tilt at its best. Kingham has an athletic, projectable build at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds.
• Royals Scout Team righthander Trent Topliker, a UC Riverside commit sat 90-92 mph in his first inning before falling to 87-88 in his second inning. The West Hills High (Santee, Calif.) product has a lean, wiry and projectable build at 6-foot-4, 175 pounds. He showed a 71-75 mph curveball with 11-5 shape and depth that offers potential. Although Topliker threw across his body and had a slight head snap, he is loose and athletic, and throws from a high three-quarters arm slot.