Gage Hinsz might be as shrewd a negotiator as he is a promising pro baseball prospect.
After spurning a handful of offers during the first two days of Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft, Hinsz, a right-handed pitcher for the Billings Scarlets, was finally drafted in the 11th round Saturday by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Hinsz was the 341st overall selection. Hinsz has yet to sign a contract with the Pirates.
“It feels pretty good,” said the 18-year-old Hinsz, who graduated from Billings West High School last weekend. “I’m just excited to see how it works out, and hopefully it does.”
Leading up to the draft, Baseball America listed Hinsz No. 188 on its list of its top 500 prospects. Hinsz said the Pirates were prepared to pick him Thursday in the second round (64th overall), but Hinsz passed on their signing bonus offer and they drafted right-handed pitcher Mitch Keller, a high school pitcher out of Iowa.
The assigned value by MLB for the Pirates’ second-round pick was $886,800. Hinsz, a power pitcher whose fastball has been clocked in the low- to mid-90s, ultimately turned down eight offers before tentatively agreeing with the Pirates in the 11th round when he was able to negotiate overslot bonus money.
Hinsz would not disclose the terms of the bonus, though it was confirmed that the dollar amount is more than where he was slotted had he been selected 64th overall.
“I think financially it might work out better now than it would have earlier (in the draft),” Hinsz said. “It could end up putting me in a better position.”
Hinsz has committed to play at Oregon State, but now must decide between playing in college or signing with the Pirates. Hinsz said the Pirates will give him four weeks to decide.
The website PiratesProspects.com wrote on Saturday that Hinsz “has an easy delivery and throws on a downhill plane from a three-quarters arm slot. Both of his secondary pitches need work, but he is considered to have tons of projection left due to inexperience and room to fill out, which should allow him to remain a starter in the pros.
“He is a strike-thrower that has huge upside. He has a commitment to Oregon State, so he will likely require an overslot bonus to sign.”
Hinsz said he isn’t sure if he’ll be able to continue playing for the Scarlets while he mulls whether to sign professionally or fulfill his commitment to OSU. But he did say the powers that be “probably want me to shut it down.”
The Scarlets travel to Helena to play a doubleheader on Sunday.
Hinsz is the second Billings American Legion player drafted in the past three years. Scarlets outfielder Justin Black was a fourth-round pick of the Braves in 2012.