Top 10 Prospects Index
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Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive
Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
WOODBRIDGE, Va.--Mike Hinckley makes his third start today in Kinston, and so far, the Nationals have taken it slow with their No. 1 prospect--though today’s outing is scheduled to be his last in the Carolina League before he moves up to Double-A Harrisburg.
After waiting more than a month to make his season debut because of shoulder problems, the third-round pick in 2001 out of Moore (Okla.) High brought some impressive credentials with him to the mound: a 32-13 career record, including five wins at Harrisburg last summer, a No. 1 ranking among Nationals prospects and the organization's 2003 and 2004 minor league pitcher of the year awards.
He led the organization with 11 wins and 131 strikeouts last summer, but regaining arm strength and command of his three pitches--a four-seam fastball, curve and changeup--is the main priority right now.
"I’ve had great life on my pitches. I didn't execute some of the pitches I chose to throw but it's just good to have the season underway," Hinckley said after his first start when he allowed five earned runs in three innings against the Indians.
Farm director Adam Wogan said that while there is no timetable for his departure from the P-Nats, he would be in Harrisburg soon.
"He'll end up at Double-A after he gets a couple of starts here," Wogan said. "It will depend on how he progresses. Everything is going well. He's healthy, one hundred percent healthy. It's a matter of getting a few innings under his belt.
"We won't determine his progress by the linescore or his velocity," Wogan said. "It will be how the ball is coming out of his hand and if he has command of his pitches."
By those standards, Hinckley's debut was a success. He threw 43 of his 70 pitches for strikes and, outside of three walks, was around the strike zone in all three innings. He was better in his second outing against Myrtle Beach, when he allowed just one hit over two innings.
But he faces that same Kinston lineup again today--the one that put up four doubles on the board during his debut.
“He looked like he was going to just cruise through that first start--like he was facing a bunch of (Class) A guys and I think he thought he could just get away with feeling his way through,” an AL scout said of Hinckley’s first outing against the K-Tribe. “After they started hitting him pretty good, he started to realize he was facing some pretty good hitters--(Kevin) Kouzmanoff, (Brad) Snyder, (Ryan) Goleski--and that’s when he turned it up a notch and started big leaguing them. He probably won’t do that again.”
--CHRIS KLINE, DAVE UTNIK
• Mariners righthander Felix Hernandez left yesterday’s game in the second inning after being hit by a line drive in the left shin by Albuquerque second baseman Drew Niles. There is a contusion on the leg and Hernandez is officially listed as questionable for his next start, though director of minor league operations Greg Hunter didn’t expect the 19-year-old phenom to miss any time. “It’s just a minor contusion and he should be fine,” Hunter said. “We’re going to re-check it (this) morning and if it needs X-rays, we’ll go from there.” On the season, the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect is 5-3, 3.05 with 42 strikeouts in 44 innings.
• Triple-A Pawtucket catcher Kelly Shoppach has been hot over his last four games, going 6-for-12 with three homers--including last night’s 2-for-4 performance in a 13-2 win against Indianapolis. Shoppach, a second-round pick in 2001 out of Baylor, is hitting .286/.407/.598 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs in 112 at-bats this season.
• After a horrendous April during which he batted .160, Double-A Akron left fielder Jason Cooper has been red-hot lately. Cooper, the Indians third-round pick in 2002 out of Stanford, is hitting .400 (24-for-60) with eight of his 10 home runs in May. He is hitting .267/.379/.548 in 135 at-bats overall.
• Orioles righthander Hayden Penn got back on track after two sub-par outings at Double-A Bowie. Penn allowed just one run--on a homer by Altoona third baseman Jose Bautista--and struck out nine in seven innings. In his last two starts combined, Penn pitched just eight innings, and allowed eight earned runs on 14 hits. Overall this season, the 2002 fifth-rounder is 3-2, 2.86 with a 56-12 strikeout-walk ratio in 44 innings.
• Dodgers catcher Russ Martin has become a fixture on the bases this season at Double-A Jacksonville. Though his 21-game stretch of reaching safely via a hit or walk was snapped Monday when he went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter, Martin has been on base in 34 of the 37 games he’s played this season. The only three games he hasn’t reached have all been in pinch-hitting situations. Overall, Martin is hitting .278/.407/.330 with a homer and 19 RBIs in 115 at-bats. His plate discipline has been exceptional, drawing 23 walks compared to 13 strikeouts. Martin has struggled to hit with power however, as he has only four extra-base hits.
• Red Sox righthander Anibal Sanchez continued to deal his way through the Carolina League yesterday during high Class A Wilmngton’s 11-1 win at Lynchburg. Sanchez allowed a run on five hits and struck out nine in six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.09. "Once they get a five-run lead or whatever, it's very tough to come back against that guy," Hillcats manager Tim Leiper told the Lynchburg News and Advance. "You tip your cap. You've got to play almost perfect baseball against him because he's that good."
• Over the past two years, Ian Kinsler has been one of the fastest risers in the minors. He is finally hitting a pothole at Triple-A. After going 1-for-6 last night the Rangers shortstop has only seven hits in his last 52 at-bats for Oklahoma and is now hitting .221/.276/.421.
• West Virginia got mixed results from their tandem starters Yovani Gallardo and Mark Rogers last night. Gallardo started the game and lasted only two innings while allowing six runs on seven hits and three walks as Asheville pounded the Power 14-0. Rogers came on in relief and threw three strong innings as he struck out five while allowing only one hits, a homer, to Florentino Nunez. Gallardo is now 0-3, 3.54 with 28 strikeouts and 12 walks in 28 innings. Rogers is 0-3, 4.73 with 35 punchouts and 19 walks in 26 2/3 innings. The stuff is obviously there, the command is still a work in progress.
• Athletics righthander Dallas Braden, who cruised through the California League in the season’s first six weeks, showed no signs of slowing down in his Double-A debut. The 2004 24th-round pick out of Texas Tech struck out seven over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rockhounds’ 5-3 win against Corpus Christi last night, allowing five hits and walking two. In seven starts for high Class A Stockton, Braden went 6-0, 2.68 with 64 punchouts in 44 innings. Replacing Braden in the Stockton rotation was righthander Brad Knox, who made his season debut last night, allowing three runs on four hits over four innings in a 5-0 loss to San Jose. Knox, whose season was delayed by a back injury, went 14-5, 2.59 last year at low Class A Kane County with a Midwest League leading 174 strikeouts.
• Royals outfielder Mitch Maier hit his 20th and 21st doubles in high Class A High Desert’s 5-3 loss to Inland Empire last night. The 2003 first-round pick out of Toledo has eight doubles in his last eight games and is batting .316/.362/.563 overall in 158 at-bats. For you long-term record chasers, the California League mark for two baggers is 55, set by Modesto’s Richard Wilson in 1951.
• Mets top prospect Lastings Milledge seems to have found his timing at the plate, recording his third straight multi-hit game in high Class A St. Lucie’s 3-2 loss to Sarasota, raising his season averages to .258/.337/.376. His timing on the basepaths may need some work still, as he’s been caught stealing four times in that span.
• One reason high Class A Lakeland has the best record in the minors at 28-10 has been the surprising performance of former Louisiana State star Nate Bumstead. A 32nd-round pick by the Tigers last June, Bumstead improved to a perfect 6-0 with seven innings of one-hit shutout baseball in last night’s 2-0 against Vero Beach, lowering his ERA to 2.47.