Saturday, December 24, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #15 CJ Hinojosa

CJ Hinojosa, SS.  DOB:  7/15/1994.  B-R, T-R.  5'9", 180 lbs.  Drafted in 2015 Round 11 out of Univ. of Texas.

2015 SS:  .296/.328/.481, 5 HR, 3.9 BB%, 7.4 K%, 203 PA.
2016 A+:  .296/.378/.442, 6 HR, 11.9 BB%, 15.2 K%, 302 PA.
2016 AA:  .248/.312/.336, 3 HR, 8.0 BB%, 17.1 K%, 251 PA.

I recall watching a game up in Adelanto, CA early in 2009 with a fellow who has been known to post comments under the screen name Tacklebox and seeing Brandon Crawford chase down a ball in the LF bullpen and making an off-balance throw that carried all the way to home plate on the fly.  We both realized at that moment that Crawford had a special arm and could probably hang at SS in the major leagues.  I got that same feeling in a game this spring in San Bernardino when I saw CJ Hinojosa track down a flyball in foul territory which he caught closer to the LF fence than 3B.  I just said to myself, "OK, I just saw a major league play!"  Although Hinojosa's D at SS has been criticized and some analysts think he is a 2B, there is at least 1 minor league defensive metric that has him as a solidly plus defender at SS.  John Sickels also rates him as a good defensive SS and thinks he can stick at the position.

That is really the key for Hinojosa going forward.  He's got excellent plate discipline and occasional pop in his bat.  If he can play average to plus defense at SS, he'll play in the major leagues.  Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, who thinks he'll wind up at 2B, noted that he did not keep up his conditioning while in college at Texas and appeared to be in much better shape this year as a pro.  I had never read that take before.  Something to watch going forward.

It looks like CJ struggled after his promotion to AA, but he hit .297 in July for Richmond, then slumped to .227 in August.  He did recover a bit to hit .263 over his last 10 games.  We'll chalk it up to fatigue from the long pro season for now.

With so many middle IF signed to minor league contracts, there probably won't be room in Sacramento, so I expect CJ to start the 2017 season back in Richmond.

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