What are the three most important parts of being a baseball player? In today's game, a lot of players rely on self effort to produce the most amount of money they possibly can for themselves. Is that a bad thing? No! Of course not, we all have to make a living some way or another. But really... what are the three most important parts of being a baseball player?
Well, Los Angeles Angels prospect Wade Hinkle and I have a similar response to what those three things are. Being a good teammate, having fun while playing the game, and most importantly... winning! Wade Hinkle is 24-years-old and currently climbing the ladder steadily year-by-year in the Angels system. His phelocify is simple, be a good teammate, have fun, and win games.
Numbers have slumped Hinkle's prospect status when they really shouldn't have. Right out of the draft in 2012, Hinkle hit Rookie Ball with strides out of Kansas State University, putting up a .338/.443/.586 slash in the Pioneer League. In 2013, Hinkle's numbers dropped slightly but stayed high for a professional level at .270/.359/.435.
This season in the hitter friendly California League, Hinkle has attacked the "pitcher friendly" parks with massive numbers. He's currently hitting .388/.474/.633 and the Albuequerque native hasn't looked back from game one. With numbers like that, you can imagine Hinkle is deserving of a callup in the near future, and after talking to some scouts and members of the Angels minor league staff, it may come sooner than we believe. We caught up with Hinkle after a 2-for-2 day at the plate where he walked twice, including a home run that could have possibly measured in the 450 foot range.
Hinkle's solid swing, approach at the plate and discipline may rise him back up to the elite prospect ranks, as well as a household name among Angels prospect lovers. We'll tell you something, we're big fans of him here at InsideTheHalos.com.
Without further delay, our Senior Publisher, Taylor Ward, sat down with Wade for a one-on-one interview about how baseball became his life and how it continues to be fun for him every single at bat.
Scout : All we have to do is look at you and know you're a baseball player, you just have that look about you. Did your parents help you with your baseball career at a young age?
Hinkle : Oh yeah! If it wasn't for my family and all that support, all the time and hours my mom and dad put in just to get me started. Even in little league, every day, me and my dad were out every day, just hitting, he even put up a batting cage in our back yard. I was out there every day, he even bought a pitching machine, so it was enough to see some velocity and hit fastballs and curveballs. That's basically how I started the game was an understanding of hitting. There's no way I could do this without my family, and friends, and all the support and just having faith and trust in my ability to come out and have some fun playing baseball.
Scout : How did baseball become the career you chose?
Hinkle : I've been playing my whole life so I kept with it. I enjoy playing, I had a pretty good high school career, went on to play junior college baseball in Douglas, Arizona, at Cochise College. I had a rough first year of college, had the changeup introduced to me and other different types of pitches, I picked it back up my sophomore year and had a good enough season to go play a couple years at Kansas State. Put up some good numbers my senior year there and got drafted and had the opportunity to come out and play some pro ball. Kinda just continue to play the game, I'm learning every year and trying to stay humble, support teammmates and we've been doing a great job out here. We gotta start putting things together and we'll start getting those W's in.
Scout : Something we're always curious about, how was your draft experience?
Hinkle : It was unbelievable! It was one of those deals where I was a senior sign, so if they take me I get to play and if I didn't, then I'd go get a job and start that road. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity and be drafted in the 27th round. I listened to the first couple days and once it got to about the 25th round I kinda just went ahh whatever and just started looking for a job (laughs). Then I went to the gym, I was a little frustrated, obviously that kind of being the end of my career, then I pull out my phone and I'm just blowing up with text messages, "congrats," and stuff and just couldn't be more happy to be drafted and keep playing.
Scout : Can you explain your approach at the plate today?
Hinkle : Yeah, I felt pretty good. It's early in the season and I wanted to come out and get off to a good start and kinda stay patient at the plate right now. I know early in the season you get the emotions of starting a new season and being on the baseball field again, you're really excited, so it tends to get to you just being in the game, you want to be anxious and go get balls, so just playing over the years I just learned to sit back a little bit and observe a little bit more, take the pitches, see a little bit more. So I've just really been trying to stay patient and getting a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.
Scout : What can we look forward to in 2014 when it comes to Wade Hinkle?
Hinkle : Honestly, my biggest focus right now for me is to just be a good teammate and do all the right things on the field to help the team win. I've never been on a championship team and we kind of have a legacy to carry on here after last year. It's playing with a chip on your shoulder, it's just one of those things where you wanna come out and perform. Like I said I want to be a good teammate and come out and do the right things. As for individually, I wanna come out and swing it and have a good offensive year, be solid defensively and be able to climb the ladder.
As always, we'd like to thank Wade for taking time out of his busy schedule and sitting down with us following a strong performance. Keep an eye out for Wade in the Angels system, because he's on his way to the top.
For more prospect interviews and news on the Los Angeles Angels system, follow us at @ScoutAngels on Twitter, and don't forget to follow our Senior Publisher, @TaylorBlakeWard, as well.
If you would like to follow Wade Hinkle and his quest to the majors, feel free to follow him on Twitter as well, @Two_inthe_Hink.