Wade Hinkle, First Baseman
HT : 6'0
WT : 230
DOB : September 5, 1989 (26), in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Throws : Left
Bats : Left
School : Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS)
Acquired : Drafted in 27th Round of 2012 MLB Draft
Last Year's Ranking : #41
The 837th overall pick in the MLB Draft in recent years has been used as nearly a joke, such as when the Padres took Johnny Manziel. However, when the Los Angeles Angels had that pick in 2012, they may have found one of the best hidden gems in recent draft history. Wade Hinkle has made big waves with his bat, and it's time to take notice as he's knocking on the door of the Majors as a potential threat off the bench with power from the left-side.
Hinkle's bat has been his biggest mark as a ball player. He has a short and quick stroke from the left-side with a swift swing plane allowing adequate contact points. Hinkle drives through the ball creating line drives. He repeats his swing mechanics, which added with good hand-eye coordination, to limit swing and misses and maintain good contact points.
Hinkle has good power, stemming from his loading mechanisms in his stance. He has a slight bend at the knees, and as the ball approaches, he shifts his weight to his back foot, lifting with his front to generate optimal strength in his large frame (six-foot, 230 pounds). He finishes with a swift one-handed follow, allowing good pull power and potential double digit home run totals.
Hinkle has an advanced approach at the plate, making him a constant threat to reach base. He has a keen eye for finding his pitches, and rarely mistakes off-speed for fastballs. Added with his good knowledge of the zone, and good discipline, Hinkle is rarely one to chase out of the zone.
Hinkle has less than average speed, and will never be a threat to steal. He is athletic for a big man however and takes this to the base paths allowing him to take the extra base if needed, and use long strides on the paths to take leaps and bounds going from first to third and second to home.
In the field, Hinkle needs some work. He has made progress defensively, but still is around average - or less - as a first baseman. It all begins with footwork, which has taken away his range. His glove itself is average at minimum, and he rarely makes mistakes on throws or grounders directly to him.
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Scouting Report from Kevin Jimenez - Correspondent for Scout.com
Scouting Report from Kevin Jimenez - Correspondent for Scout.com
Hinkle was a star at Del Norte High School, leading the state with a .586 average his junior year and .589 average his senior season. Hinkle ranks third all-time at Del Norte with 26 home runs, 15 of which came his senior year. In both his junior and senior seasons, Hinkle was named All-District, All-Metro and All-State selections, while earning the New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year Award his senior year.
After high school, Hinkle headed for Cochise College, where he hit .301 with 14 doubles, a home run and 21 RBI his freshman year. He followed that with a .378 average, 16 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 67 RBI his final year at Cochise. He earned First-Team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference and First-Team NJCAA All-Region honors during his sophomore season.
Hinkle transferred to Kansas State, where he hit .308/.378/.445 with 10 doubles, two triple, two home runs and 27 RBI his junior year. Hinkle went undrafted and went on as a senior at KSU, collecting 12 multi-hit games, with eight multi-RBI games. He hit .330/.480/.529 his senior year with eight doubles and 10 home runs, with 49 RBI - 13 of which came with two outs.
In his first taste of pro ball, Hinkle thrived, hitting .338/.443/.586 with 57 RBI, 62 runs scored, 21 doubles and 15 home runs. Hinkle reached base in 65 of 70 games where he held a plate appearance, with 28 multi-hit games, five of which came in a row and nine coming in an 11 game span. Hinkle collected 36 extra-base hits (one every 7.38 AB) with 13 coming in his final 16 games (XBH every 4.86 AB).
Hinkle strung together some fine stretches in his sophomore professional season, closing it out with a .270/.359/.435 slash with 13 home runs, 30 doubles and 68 RBI. Hinkle reached base in 11 straight games twice in a 29 game-stretch, and also held a 12-game on-base streak near the end of the season. In his final 28 games, Hinkle hit .327/.413/.462.
Hinkle was limited two seasons ago to just 82 games due to a thumb injury, but not before putting up video game numbers once again. He reached base in 76 of 82 games, including a 19-game streak followed by a 14-game streak just three games apart. He finished the year batting .295/.405/.493 with 25 doubles and nine home runs. In his opening month, Hinkle hit .388 with a 1.106 OPS.
This past season, Hinkle saw his numbers decrease in large part to Texas League parks. He hit .248/.337/.369, seeing career lows in every statistic. He kicked things off strong through, reaching base in 17 of his first 19 games, batting .338/.421/.492. He went streaking once again over 19 games in July, batting .323/.397/.500 while picking up three of his eight home runs on the season.
Age, injuries and the depth chart may play against Hinkle's future development in the Angels farm system. He'll be 26-years-old through next season, and has yet to see time in Triple-A. That should change next season, but finding a place for him may be a challenge. If the Angels can find a way to keep him in the field and in the lineup at Salt Lake, he could be a nice bench threat to platoon at the highest level by the end of 2016.
Though the ceiling may not be high for Hinkle, he can be very useful at the Major League level once he reaches the highest marks of his career. Every team looks for a left-handed power bat off the bench, which is exactly what Hinkle could provide in the future. The tools are there for him to become a Major Leaguer, and it could be as soon as next season or the one following.
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Kevin Jimenez is a Correspondent for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @KevinCJimenez. This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.