- Full name Charles Tadao Zink
- Born 08/26/1979 in Carmichael, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Savannah College Of Art & Design
- Debut 08/12/2008
Organization Prospect Rankings
The premier knuckleballer in the minor leagues, Zink's entered pro ball as a conventional pitcher. He was undrafted out of the Savannah College of Art and Design, where his college coach was former Red Sox great Luis Tiant. Zink hooked up with an independent Western League team and was toying with trying to make the PGA golf tour before Boston signed him on Tiant's recommendation. In 2002, he excelled as a low Class A reliever by keeping hitters off balance with a hard, overhand curveball he could throw for strikes at any time in the count. Zink also dabbled with a knuckleball that caught the eye of minor league pitching coordinator Goose Gregson. The Red Sox gave Zink two options for 2003: He could stay with his normal stuff and pitch in the high Class A bullpen, or become a full-time knuckleballer and move to the rotation. Zink chose the latter and did more than Boston expected. He met with big league knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in spring training and joined Sarasota after two weeks of preparing for the transition in extended spring. Gregson says Charlie Hough told him years ago to stick with any fledgling knuckleballer who could throw one good floater out of 10. Gregson estimates that Zink threw 30 percent quality knucklers in 2003. It's a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch and he commands it as well as can be expected. He has the fearless mentality required to live and die with the knuckler. He finished the season strong in Double-A in August, coming within one out of a no-hitter in his final start, and did OK in the Arizona Fall League. The Red Sox say Zink's knuckleball will continue to improve and are certain that he'll pitch in the majors. He's still learning to adapt his other pitches to the knuckleball delivery. He must use the same motion so hitters won't know what's coming. Zink had an 86-87 mph fastball in 2002 and he's aiming for the low 80s as a knuckleballer. His curveball isn't as sharp because he can't stay on top of it, though he still throws it for strikes. He throws the knuckler roughly 90 percent of the time. Zink will begin 2004 in Double-A, and if he can continue to progress at the same rate he did last year, he could help the Red Sox by the end of the season.