Scarlets pitcher Gage Hinsz received his diploma from Billings West High School on Sunday, then jumped on a plane bound for Chicago at 6 a.m. Monday for a workout at Wrigley Field.
Hinsz threw a bullpen session on Tuesday for the Cubs, who are one of several teams expressing interest in nabbing the right-hander during Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft this weekend.
The draft begins Thursday night with the first two rounds (including two “competitive balance” rounds), with rounds 3-10 being held Friday. Rounds 11-40 will be Saturday.
The 18-year-old Hinsz is expected to be picked somewhere along the way.
“I’m pretty excited,” Hinsz said Wednesday. “I’m still talking to teams coming right down the wire. I’m trying to stay on track with all that and stay focused.
“I just know I need to keep my phone by me, that’s about it.”
Hinsz, a 6-foot-4 power pitcher with a fastball that clocks in the low- to mid-90s, has been on the draft radar for months. Last week he did pre-draft work for the Diamondbacks with roughly 25 other prospects at the team’s spring training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., and did the same for the Mariners last fall.
Pro scouts have followed Hinsz through the early part of this American Legion season, and Hinsz said he’s been in contact with virtually every major league club.
Hinsz is ranked No. 3 on Baseball Northwest’s “Super Sixty” prospect list, which includes the region encompassing Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
Baseball America’s website lists Hinsz as its No. 188 prospect overall, the No. 74 right-handed pitching prospect, the No. 32 right-hander available out of high school, and the No. 1 player from Montana.
The only other player from Montana in Baseball America’s Top 500 prospects is Missoula Mavericks catcher Slade Heggen at No. 435.
Hinsz projects to be the second Scarlets player drafted in the past three years. Outfielder Justin Black was a fourth-round pick of the Braves in 2012.
“I talk to (Black) a little bit here and there, so I’ve got a pretty decent idea of how the process is going to go,” Hinsz said. “It was nice to be able to see somebody in front of me go through it also.”
Depending on where he’s selected, Hinsz might face the decision to forego his verbal commitment to play at Oregon State — which is the No. 1 overall seed in the ongoing NCAA tournament — and sign a professional contract.
He’s not shying away from having to make up his mind.
“Either way I’m in a good situation,” Hinsz said. “I’m not worried about making the decision. I think I’m more than ready for it.”
California high school left-hander Brady Aiken is listed by Baseball America as the top overall prospect, and could be the No. 1 pick.
Other high-profile prospects include Vanderbilt right-hander Tyler Beede, Florida high school shortstop Nick Gordon, California high school catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson, Texas high school right-hander Tyler Kolek, LSU right-hander Aaron Nola and North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon.
The Astros own the first pick for the third consecutive year. Last year they drafted Stanford pitcher Mark Appel No. 1 overall.