The Lexington Legends are one of the best offensive teams in Class A South Atlantic League (Sally). They are 1st in OBP, 1st in batting average, 6th in SLG, and 2nd in OPS. Part of this is due to the previously discussed JD Martinez, another big contributor in that is Kody Hinze. Hinze is the primary 1B but shares time with Aaron Bray, on his days off from 1B, he is the primary DH for Lexington. Hinze primarily hits out of the 4-hole as he is the biggest HR threat in the explosive Lexington line-up.
Hinze was originally drafted out of HS in 2005 in 46th round by the Pirates but went to Angelina College instead and later signed with the Astros as an un-drafted FA in 2007 and began play in 2008. He performed well in Greenville in 2008; hit 7 HR while posting a .378 OBP. In 2009, he played about half his games for GCL Astros and the other half for Lexington. He posted a .792 OPS in the GCL and a .630 in Lexington. Not surprising to see why he repeated Low A. If Hinze continues to improve, this will more than likely be considered his breakout season as he is posting serious power numbers this year as well as posting solid on-base numbers.
Now let’s get into this years numbers a little deeper. The biggest number that pops out on his stat line is his HR total. He has hit 12 this year which set him up to be tied for 2nd in the Sally, although, he is 9th in SLG, mostly because he doesn’t hit very many doubles (11), and no triples. Hinze isn’t a fast runner, which is probably why he plays 1B and could be a factor that limits him from stretching out doubles. He also hits a higher rate of fly balls (36.9%) which limits his ability to hit doubles as well as he pops the ball up a lot rather than driving it (21%) or hitting it on the ground (42%). But, his powerful frame (6ft. 225lbs) and higher fly ball rate is probably what allows for him to hit as many HRs as he does. And, his lower GB% reduces his chance at those wonderful GIDP that Lee and Pence have a knack for. He’s only done it twice this year.
As mentioned before, Lexington has a line-up that can really get on-base. Hinze is second on the team in OBP at .383 which is 9th in the Sally. That’s a very solid OBP, especially for a slugger. There are two factors that lead to that OBP that I want to point out. First is that LD%. It’s pretty much understood that more line-drives equals a higher average, well when you hit line-drives at that rate, well you hit at a higher average, that’s why he has that .295 batting average. The other factor in that is his walk rate. He has walked 30 times in 225 AB. That comes out to a solid 13.3% walk-rate. So, he is a good candidate to continue to put up a solid OBP in the future. Although, he is likely too advanced for this level as he will turn 23 next month and most pitchers in the Sally are about 20-22. The worrisome part about his plate discipline is the opposite side of his walk-rate. He strikes out way too much. He has struck out 69 times which comes out to a sub-par 30.7% strikeout-rate. That is the worrisome part of Hinze’s game. Being an advanced slugger at his level, he should put up a better rate than that, even if he is a slugger.
There are two other factors about his offensive game that I want to point out. His BABIP is an inflated .378 compared to a career .332. He’s a good candidate to regress a good bit since he won’t sustain that with his speed and a LD% that is about five percentage points above career average. The other thing I wanted to point out is his left-right splits. He can get on-base against lefties, but he can’t drive the ball against them. His GB% (50%) raises, LD% (13.9%) drops against them. His SLG is a dismal .296 against lefties. But, he still posts a pretty good .343 OBP that relies heavily on his walk-rate which about 20% of the time against lefties.
Defensively he’s limited to 1B, but he plays average defense there. He really doesn’t have the chance to move to the OF, even LF as he does not have much speed. Although, he does profile to put up pretty good offensive numbers to warrant playing time at that type of position. He did play at least enough in RF last year in Lexington to register an out, but the fact that he hasn’t played there this year is disappointing, but there are also a good bit of OFers in Lexington to begin with.
Hinze has posted solid numbers this year, although, they aren’t as solid as what I thought they would be. He posts solid on-base numbers from both sides, but only puts up power numbers from the right side. All 12 HRs were against righties. His defensive profile isn’t very impressive either, which limits him as a real solid prospect and even more so considering he is nearly 23 in Low-A ball. It would benefit his power numbers in Lancaster and should get playing time over a guy like Mike Ori. But, he doesn’t really have the upside someone else at the same position does in CC. Koby Clemens has more upside and has a much more powerful bat. But, I still think Hinze should be promoted as he is too old and needs to be moved along if the Astros hope to get any sort of prospect status out of him.