“It’s really great to just sit back and think about it. You don’t want to look too far ahead — take kind of one day at a time — but just to look at the future... I mean, it’s pretty bright...
... When I’ve seen them they always was a good teammate. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to. Just having Masyn and Jordan in the backfield while I’m on the mound. It’s gonna be awesome.”
“If you had to pitch to just one of those guys to win a game, who do you want in the box?”
Tink Hence smiles. “Jordan.”
This was how Tink Hence responded when asked about the possibility of playing with Masyn Winn and Jordan Walker for a large portion of his career. The trio are three of the four Cardinals prospects that can be found on most top 100 prospect lists. Baseball America has Walker listed at number 4, Hence at 47, and Winn at 48. The Cardinals acquired Matthew Liberatore from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020 and he rounds out the Cardinals four at number 79.
A main theme at Winter Warm-up — and will likely be a main focus of the Cardinals Spring Training — was the trio of Walker, Hence, and Winn. All three were born in 2002, all three were drafted in 2020, and all three are incredibly talented. Last week we read Walker’s full media presser transcript. We know about Maysn Winn throwing over 100 mph. This week, let’s talk about Tink.
Hence has been getting some coverage himself this week in Baseball America has they curated a list of the best fastballs from top 100 prospects. Hence made the list at number 7.
.@HenceTink3 brings the— Cardinals Player Development (@CardsPlayerDev) January 23, 2023
"Hence’s four-seamer misses more bats than any fastball thrown by a righthander among the Top 100 Prospects." https://t.co/rJjkkCUohr pic.twitter.com/ZPy0nx4xV9
At just 20 years old, Hence has a 35% Wiff rate on his fastball that can reach up 99 mph at the top of the zone. According to Geoff Pontes of Baseball America what kept Hence from being higher on the list was “his still improving fastball command, which will fluctuate at times”. Hence himself said that “being able to have multiple pitches and have control and command over them” is going to help him. Being able to pick the different nuances of his pitching apart with video and advanced stats has been a major difference in his pitching studies from high school to the minors.
“In high school I never really had any intel on the spin rate, the vertical break, the horizontal break. Really just looking at those numbers — sometimes you can get caught up into it, just stuck, figuring out what’s different. Me, I’m kind of more of a visual guy, watching video. I can see better off video. Just seeing my release point, just seeing what’s different and trying to keep everything in the same tunnel.
“You can never know too much, so just keeping an open mind. I’ve always been an open book to learning new things, ticks and that because I learn new stuff everyday... reading on the internet or listening to guys. Just being open-minded.”
The shared theme among Walker, Hence, and Winn seemed to be not only their close friendship, but a desire to play great baseball together and get to the Big League club. After exceling in just over 52 innings in Palm Beach, it seems like Hence will be on his way to the Cardinals double-A club in Springfield to start the season where Walker and Winn were last season. With all the success and possibilities coming his way, Hence says it is important to keep “an even keel mind, when the good times come don’t get too up, and when the bad times come don’t get down.”
“I’ve never been a guy that just rushes into things. I just let it come my way and whenever the chance comes I am going to make sure that I have trained myself, built my confidence, and got my mind to where I can handle anything.”
Best Fastballs Among 2023 Top 100 Prospects | Baseball America