Black MiLB Players #20: Tink Hence
A 20-year-old starting pitcher with an advanced arsenal, Tink Hence is one of baseball’s most intriguing starters from the 2020 MLB Draft
Markevian “Tink” Hence is a 20-year-old starting pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Drafted by St. Louis in the 2nd round (54th overall) of the 2020 MLB Draft directly out of high school, he forewent a commitment to Arkansas’ Division I baseball program to start his professional baseball career. The highest ranked starting pitcher in his graduating class for the entire state of Arkansas per Perfect Game, he received a $1.2 million dollar signing bonus from the Cardinals.
One of the three Black players the Cardinals drafted directly out of high school with their first three picks in the 2020 MLB Draft, he has made a name for himself along with third baseman/corner outfielder Jordan Walker and shortstop Masyn Wynn. All three are top prospects in an organization renowned for its ability to scout and develop young players. More importantly, the St. Louis Cardinals have had one of the richest histories with Black baseball players since the elimination of segregation in Major League Baseball. The organization was one of the first to hire Black scouts and desegregate team facilities for players and staff.
Hence’s career started in 2021, making eight appearances in the Florida Complex League. He started one game and made relief appearances in the other seven, garnering a save in eight total innings pitched. In 2022 he made 16 starts in the Low-A Florida State League, putting up a 1.38 ERA in 52.1 innings. He allowed 31 hits, struck out 81, and walked 15 opposing batters, good for a 13.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 with a 0.879 WHIP.
Tink Hence career batting statistics for Major League, Minor League, and postseason baseball
Hence is 6'1'’, weighing a little under 200 pounds with a wiry and lean build. He possesses above-average midsection flexibility, lower body strength, and a very quick and lively arm. He throws right-handed with a low 3/4s delivery on a simple wind up and follow through with a slight head whack. Despite this, he is consistent at repeating his mechanics with no men on base and in the stretch thanks to his top-tier body control and athleticism.
Cardinals Top Pitching Prospect, Tink Hence Shows His Pitching Grips
Cardinals #ProGrips*I do not own this clip belongs to its respective owner*
He throws tons of strikes with his fastball, a legitimate 70 grade offering. It is his primary pitch, sitting between 95–97 miles per hour and reaching as high as 100 on the gun. He goes inside and down in the zone to right-handers and left-handers with the two-seam fastball, using its weight to get weak contact. The four seam fastball is dominant in the upper third of the zone, where its lack of drop and high spin rate creates the optical illusion of a rising fastball. He commands it well for someone his age, understanding its dominance and how his entire arsenal plays off of it based on his sequencing. The first sequence from 0:20–0:44 illustrates the dominance of Hence’s fastball. He got behind in the count 2–1 after missing with his secondary offerings before blowing two fastballs by the opposing hitter back to back to get the strikeout.
His secondary pitch is a slurvy breaking ball that sits in the upper 70s. It is his second most used pitch after the fastball. It is classified as a slider by some, a curveball by others, or two separate secondary pitches by everyone else. He employs two different grips although it operates with two distinct shapes on the same velocity band so I see it as one pitch that Hence has tremendous feel for manipulating. It reminds me of Corey Kluber’s breaking ball with how it can go from an 11–5 that has consistent two plane action to a more 12–6 shape in a similar velocity band. I am completely comfortable calling it a 60 based on its late life, high spin rate, and how it compliments the other two pitches he throws.
His third pitch is a circle changeup with lots of drop that sits in the low 80s. He rarely uses it even though it compliments the rest of his arsenal really well and gives him a third offering to balance out his arsenal as a starter. When clicking, it looks like a fastball out the hand before tumbling away to his armside. In its current state, I would grade it as a 45 but it definitely projects as a future 55 to me. See the 0:50 mark in the video above to view one of his sharpest cambios on film courtesy of Prospects Live. 1:13 and 1:39 also are good examples.
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Prospect Standouts, June 2022 - Baseball Prospectus
Whose getting helium now, and who's to note for well down the line?