O’s Sign Lefty Reliever, Former Top Prospect Mike Hinckley

I remember way back in the day when pitcher Mike Hinckley was a top prospect. That seems like such a long time ago. I had actually assumed that he was out of baseball, so today’s news that the Orioles signed the lefty to a minor league deal came as a bit of a surprise. Hinckley has just 23.1 IP in his career in the majors (some in both ’08 and ’09 with the Nationals, who picked him in the third round of the 2001 draft) – all out of the bullpen. His 4.6 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 aren’t particularly inspiring, and previous reports (from 2005-ish) of a good sinking fastball seem to no longer hold. Small sample sizes aside, Pitch/FX indicates a 90 mph fastball with average-ish movement and a curveball with pretty good break. Hinckley was more effective against lefties (.161/.257/.194, 4 K to 2 BB in 36 PA) than righties (.244/.404/.333, 8 K to 12 BB in 57 PA), as would be expected. I don’t know if he will make the ’10 O’s pen as a LOOGY, but it’s a fine low-risk move to bring him aboard and give him a chance at it. I don’t anticipate great levels of success though.