Chad Hinshaw has been steadily climbing the ladder in the Los Angeles Angels system for the past two seasons. He has put up quality numbers at both the Class A and AA levels. The right handed hitting Hinshaw was drafted in the 15th round in 2013 out of Illinois State University and has made steady progress to the point that he is close to being on the Angels radar for consideration for big league playing time.
Hinshaw finished off a stellar 2015 campaign with a trip to the Arizona Fall League, where he put up a slash line of .349/.397/.508 while playing a solid center field for the Mesa Solar Sox. Hinshaw left enough of a solid impression on Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, that Mayo named him one of the top 10 breakout prospects of the fall season.
After a 2014 season that saw him hit 16 home runs, steal 41 bases, and score 100 runs across two levels of Class A ball, Hinshaw earned a promotion to Double-A Arkansas to start 2015. Things were rolling along for the 24-year-old outfielder at Arkansas this season. He posted a .395 on-base percentage through his first 27 games until a ligament tear in his hand sidelined him for two and a half months. That certainly didn’t slow Hinshaw down as he returned in July to bat .316 with that same .395 OBP, while hitting .350 with runners in scoring position. In spite of only appearing in 71 games, he also finished sixth in the Texas League with 27 stolen bases.
“It was really disappointing getting hurt again,” Hinshaw told MLB.com after suffering his second big injury in his last three seasons. “I was definitely disappointed but I wanted to make sure that when I came back that I didn’t try to play catch-up and make up for the time I missed. I wanted to come back and show in a small amount of games that I can play and perform at this level.”
Against tougher pitching in 2015, Hinshaw showed that his basic skill set has future promise. He shows great speed in center field, as well as on the base paths, and has shown a consistent ability to get on base by any means possible. His power numbers took a dive in Double-A and his strikeout rate of 28 percent is definitely cause for concern for a player of his age and level. A little more refined approach and maturity could see these numbers drop back to the low 20 percent K numbers he has put up in the past.
Hinshaw needs to be more consistent at the plate. He has shown he’s a guy who can make adjustments during the game against solid pitching. He has shown that he has the ability to pull the ball for power, and has power to all fields. Someone who has shown really good strike zone awareness can hopefully be able to cut down the strikeout levels, and a full, healthy season with regular and consistent at-bats could be just the ticket.
Hinshaw has been an under-the-radar outfielder, which the Angels seem to love with the likes of Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill. He still probably projects as a fourth outfielder at this point. His speed will keep him in the mix and he has the arm strength to play the corner positions as well. Another issue could be that the parent club is set as far as the outfield is concerned for the time being. Of course, those issues have a way of working themselves out, especially with an up-and-comer that keeps putting up good numbers.
Hinshaw doesn’t have a need for radical mechanical changes in his swing. He just needs to refine what he is doing and get regular at-bats that will come from staying healthy. The Angels may want to give him a few more at-bats in the Texas League to start 2016, but he will make his way to Salt Lake and be in the mix for a possible call-up during the 2016 season and certainly 2017.