Acquisition of Colt Hynes Makes Indians Better
On Thursday, the Cleveland Indians wasted no time beginning the offseason with a series of moves that included acquiring pitcher Colt Hynes from the San Diego Padres in exchange for cash considerations. Hynes was recently designated for assignment by the Padres, and he will take the 40-man roster spot that was vacated with the release of former closer Chris Perez.
I know what you’re all thinking: who the heck is Colt Hynes?
That’s what I’m here to tell you.
Hynes (whose real first name is Joshua) is a 5′ 11″, 200 pound, side-arming lefty reliever. He has spent his entire career in the Padres’ organization since being taken by San Diego in the 31st round of the 2007 draft (956th overall) out of Texas Tech. He made his major league debut this season, and allowed 17 earned runs in 17 innings (which is a 9.00 ERA, for all of you math lovers out there).
Hynes is strictly a reliever, as the lone professional season he spent in the rotation (2012 in AAA) resulted in a 5.76 ERA and drastically different peripherals from what he posted as a reliever in 2013. Scouting reports say that his arsenal features a two-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. However, he isn’t a very hard thrower, as his fastball typically only reaches around 89-90 mph.
Although his major league numbers aren’t too inspiring, his minor league numbers (at least as a reliever) are much better. Counting his numbers from the rotation in 2012, he has a career 3.59 ERA in 501 1/3 career minor league innings, including a 1.52 mark in 47 1/3 innings in 2013. His peripheral stats were terrific this year, as the southpaw put up marks of 11.0 K/9 and 0.4 BB/9 (yes, you read that correctly). All of this adds up to a ludicrous K/BB ratio of 29.00 (he stuck out 58 batters, as opposed to only allowing 2 walks).
The best part? His success is supported by advanced metrics. His FIP supports his ERA well, as his AA FIP of 0.61 and 1.43 go favorably with his respective marks of 0.73 and 1.80.
Furthermore, the Texas League (where he pitched in AA with the San Antonio Missions) and the Pacific Coast League (AAA, Tucson Padres) are known as two of the more hitter-friendly leagues in affiliated baseball, meaning that the success of Hynes in the minors this year is even more impressive.
Although his career minor league K/9 rate of 7.1 and BB/9 rate of 2.1 both suggest regression from his terrific numbers of 2013, they are still pretty solid numbers.
The critics will point out that Hynes is already 28 years old. He also has no track record of major league success, even while pitching in PETCO Park. The age is somewhat of a concern, as Hynes is now at the “what you see is what you get” stage of his career. But that’s fine. Age doesn’t really seem to be as much of an issue with relievers (and pitchers in general) as it can be with hitters.
It’s impossible to judge a player’s career based on a small sample size of just 17 major league innings, but by looking at his minor league numbers, it becomes clear that there is at least potential for success in the future. His aforementioned peripherals are terrific (in addition to his K/BB rate, he only gave up one home run in the minor leagues last year, and his 8.2 H/9 rate isn’t bad as well).
His lack of success in the major leagues last season can be directly traced back to his peripherals. His K/9 and BB/9 both dramatically worsened (to 6.9 and 4.76, respectively), while he gave up 3 home runs and his H/9 climbed to 13.2. If these numbers drift closer to his minor league totals, his stats should be better as a result. It seems clear that Hynes is a much better pitcher than the numbers he posted in the major leagues this year.
Although he allowed a .476/.522/.738 line to right-handed hitters (over 46 plate appearances), he held lefties to a suffocating .156/.289/.313 line (38 plate appearances) during his time in the majors in 2013. Expect his stats against righties to normalize over a full season, and for his overall stats to improve as a result. However, he has proven capable of putting away left-handed hitters in both the minor and major leagues, meaning that he could still carve out a niche as a left-handed specialist in the majors if nothing else.
The Indians have plenty of internal candidates for their 2014 bullpen (and they’ll likely look to add more external arms to the mix). At worst, Hynes is another pitcher to be thrown into the mix.
After all, I’m a huge fan of these small, under-the-radar moves. Acquiring him for cash is a move that carries practically no risk for the Indians, even if he never even throws a pitch for them. His potential is well worth the money the Indians paid for him, and it will be interesting to see how he fares with the Indians. Besides, sometimes these moves actually work out.
I understand that Colt Hynes might not live up to the hype I’m suddenly giving him.
But stranger things have happened.