Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An Interview with 2B John Hinson

A native of Asheville, North Carolina, John Hinson was a 13th round draft pick out of Clemson in 2011.  In his final year at Clemson, he had a .331/.388/.514/.902 batting line which was actually down slightly from his .351 BA and 1.012 OPS from the prior year.  In his first professional season with Tri-City in 2011, the lefty-hitting second baseman hit .284/.348/.389/.737 in 43 games with nine doubles, one triple and two home runs.

Now for the questions …

WTH:  You were drafted by the Phillies in the 40th round in 2007 and again by the Phillies in the 13th round in 2010, and finally signed with the Astros who also drafted you in the 13th round in 2011.  Why didn't you sign with the Phillies earlier?  What was the difference this time?

JH:  There's nothing really like sitting and waiting for the phone to ring on draft day. Each year that I was selected in the draft was special. Both years that I was taken by the Phillies I felt that playing the following year at Clemson University was the best option for me at the time. When I was selected by the Astros this past year I felt the timing was right, to move into pro ball, and was just thankful the Astros organization was giving me this opportunity.

WTH:  You played primarily at 3B at Clemson, but you played 2B exclusively at Tri-City.  Are you comfortable with that change?  How have you adjusted?

JH:  Last summer I played for Cotuit in the Cape Cod league where I played exclusively 2B, and while at Clemson I always played some 2B and spent plenty of time over there in practice to find comfort there; so 2B isn't a foreign position for me. I loved playing second for Tri-City and really enjoyed my time there.

WTH:  Can you tell me a little about the adjustment process from aluminum bats to the new BBCOR-approved bats to wooden bats?  How did you handle the transition?

JH:  I think the biggest part about both transitions was just trusting myself with the bat. Everyone knew that the BBCOR bats were going to change the dynamic of the college game so most programs were ready for that. The BBCOR bats were a good stepping stone to wood bats and I think it's a good direction for the college game to be headed. Being able to play up in the Cape with a wood bat all last summer was really the biggest help for me in being able to make that transition from aluminum to wood a little easier. Being able to face that caliber of pitching for two months with a wood bat was awesome and really helped my transition.

WTH:  You sat out the 2009 season at Clemson due to a back injury.  What was the nature of that injury?  Also, I believe that you were injured in August in Tri-City but I never saw anything about the type of injury.  Could you tell me about that?

JH:  In 2009 I had surgery on my lower back in order to shave down a bulged disc which ended up putting me out for the 2009 season. Thankfully I have absolutely no lingering symptoms, or even tightness what-so-ever. I'm really lucky to have recovered as well as I did. In August, I had a collision at first base in a close play where the pitcher came across the baseline. I landed awkwardly and ended up fracturing my wrist. I guess I'm just lucky when it comes to recovery because throughout this recovery, like in 2009, I've come back quickly and have no lasting symptoms.

WTH:  You got married last April in the morning and then played a game for Clemson that night.  Can you tell me a little about that and how married life works when you're in the minor leagues?  Also, did you ever get to go on a honeymoon?

JH:  Man, that weekend was crazy! We left after our Friday night game at Clemson and drove to Columbia to be married and sealed in the temple early Saturday morning. So as you can imagine Saturday was a super long day and at the same time the best day of my life. After we tied the knot we took pictures and hung out with family and friends for a bit, until we had to hit the road and make it back in time for the second game of our series against Maryland. Aileen and I have been married for almost a year now and it been absolutely amazing. She's a redheaded pistol, perfect for the situation we are in with me being gone most of the year. Being on the road so much is tough on married life but she's such a fighter it works out great. If you ever get the chance you should meet her!  [In reference to a honeymoon] Yeah we took a couple trips this offseason.  Since we didn't get the traditional honeymoon experience or reception, we plan to go on a honeymoon every fall to make up for it. 

WTH:  You were drafted along with Clemson teammate Chris Epps in the same year and both went on to play at Tri-City.  Did that help your transition into a professional career? [h/t to Bryan Trostel (@btrostelsc) of Astros County for the question]

JH:  Chris wasn't just my teammate, but also my roommate all through college (until of course I married Aileen). So yeah, knowing that he would be playing for the same organization made the transition a fun one. Epps has always been the funny guy so anytime you have a guy like that around it makes things better.

WTH: At Tri-City, you hit LHP's even better than RHP's which is not that common in left-handed batters. Were you generally successful against LHP's in college?

JH:  My first couple of years in college there were a lot of times were left-handed hitters wouldn't get the opportunity to face LHP’s. It really wasn't until later in my career in college that I was able to rack up AB's against LHP's. I remember watching an interview with Chase Utley where he talked about his mental approach against lefties and how he was able to be successful with it; I took what he spoke about and it happened to work for me too.

WTH:  The more I look at the individual players on the 2011 Tri-City team, the more excited I get for the future of the Astros.  It seems as though that team is particularly close-knit and driven.  Can you give me any insight about that team and any individuals (position players or pitchers) that really stood out for work ethic, raw talent, etc.?

JH:  You're right - there were a lot of guys that were naturally self-motivated on that team; and tons of talent to go along with it. Bubby Williams is a guy that stands out in my mind that really worked hard day in and day out. Collectively though, our team showed up ready to get better every day. I think the fact that most of the guys in Tri-City had played college ball helped set that foundation.

WTH:  What has been the biggest surprise for you about life in the minor leagues?

JH:  Spanish. There are tons of talented players who are predominately Spanish speakers. I’d have to say hearing Spanish on the field would be the newest thing for me. It's fun being able to play and learn parts of a foreign language at the same time.

Thanks for your time John!

1 comment:

  1. Really great interview, Jayne! You may just get me excited about the minors if you keep this up!

    Hinson sounds like a kid who has his head on straight - you know I love that in a ball player. I'll be keeping my eye on him!