AJ Hinch was one of my favorite players when I was younger–I was a bit of an Oakland Athletics fan and he was one of their biggest prospects. I always made him my #2 catcher when I played MVP Baseball on the N64.
But more importantly I got to kinda, sorta shared a diamond with him for one season: I was the visiting side bat boy in Omaha during the 2001-2002 season, and he was often the Omaha Royals catcher. We were essentially teammates! (not really)
After a game towards the end of the season, I went up and talked to him, and told him how cool it was to see him play in person. He was very nice and acted a little surprised that anyone would be excited about him. I got his autograph, though have long since lost it.
- AJ Hinch has proven to be a great coach, leading the Houston Astros to the 2017 American League pennant.
- But it should not be forgotten that Hinch was a well thought of prospect back in the day.
- Hinch hit .381/.452/.657 his senior year at Stanford and was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1996 draft by the Oakland Athletics.
- This was the third time he was drafted. He was also taken by the White Sox in the 2nd round of the 1992 draft, and the Twins in the 3rd round in 1995.
- For a while, he was one of the A’s best prospects and thought to be Oakland’s catcher of the future.
- In 1997 he split his season between High-A and AAA, hitting remarkably well in both stops. Scouts tagged him as a guy who would hit .280 with 20 HR in the majors and was one of the Top 50 prospects in the game.
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- Hinch would spend most of 1998 in the majors, but he struggled. Still, he was young and the A’s were still high on him.
- In 1999 Hinch would struggle again in his brief time in the majors, and by 2000 was passed on the A’s depth chart by Ramon Hernandez.
- In 2001 Hinch was part of a huge three-team trade:
January 8, 2001: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Oakland Athletics with Angel Berroa to the Kansas City Royals. The Oakland Athletics sent Ben Grieve to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent Cory Lidle to the Oakland Athletics. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent Roberto Hernandez to the Kansas City Royals. The Kansas City Royals sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to the Oakland Athletics.
- This was a huge trade and one that I remember well. And it netted Oakland some players who would play serious roles on a contending team.
- Unfortunately, Hinch would never really find his groove in the majors. Over the next couple seasons, he would bounce between the Royals, Tigers and Phillies–and never see more than 197 bats in the big leagues.
- He would retire after the 2005 season. His final career stats were .219/280/.356 with 32 HR and 0.1 amassed WAR.
Since retiring as a player Hinch has found quite a bit of success.
- After the 2005 season, the Diamondbacks hired him as their manager of minor league operations, and the next season made him the director of player development. Inside baseball, he was considered a hot commodity.
- In 2009 he was hired as the Diamondbacks head coach and led the team for two seasons before being fired.
- In 2010 he was hired by the Padres as vice president of professional scouting.
- In 2014 he was hired as head coach of the Astros…and has not looked back.
- In three seasons with Houston, he is 271-215 and is managing the team in the 2017 World Series.
What a great career so far. And at only 43 years old, he has at least another 20 years to go.
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