San Francisco Giants prospect CJ Hinojosa keeps getting these tests, and he keeps failing. The result? He gets suspended for 50 games for a drug of abuse.
This may not impact the 2018 San Francisco Giants, but it is a blow to the organizational depth at the shortstop position.
Hinojosa was an 11th round pick in 2015 out of the University of Texas at Austin. He hit well enough in San Jose in 2016 to earn a mid-season promotion to Richmond.
In 2017, he remained in Richmond while playing all over the infield and hitting . 265 with a .662 OPS. These are not necessarily impressive stats. However, he put up solid first half numbers, but went through a brutal slump in the second half of the season.
Hinojosa is not a top organizational prospect. But, he does have a skill set that could enable him to carve out a niche as a major league player.
For starters, Hinojosa has experience all over the infield. At Richmond, he started games at shortstop, second base, and third base. This is the type of versatility that can be valuable for a utility infielder.
In addition to this, Hinojosa has a solid hit tool. He does not hit for a whole lot of power, but it is possible that his bat develops a little more pop.
Like many Giants prospects before him, Hinojosa has a solid understanding of the strike zone. He can work a count, and coax a walk. Furthermore, Hinojosa is very difficult to strikeout as evidenced by his 10.1 strikeout rate in 2017. Making contact is important for someone coming off the bench, especially if they need to move a runner over.
Hinojosa has a lot to offer, and has the skill set of a major league player. However, the Giants will have to wait to see if Hinojosa realizes this potential. For the second time in as many years, Hinojosa took a drug test, and failed. The result is a 50-game suspension. This is not good news.
At the upper levels, the Giants have Chase d’Arnaud and Josh Rutledge as middle infield depth. If Brandon Crawford were to sustain an injury, the Giants would have trouble filling his spot. They do not have the depth in this area, and the suspension to Hinojosa makes matters worse.
However, Brandon Crawford has a good track record for health, so the Giants may not need to consider alternatives. In the prospect ranks, the Giants also have Ryan Howard as middle infield depth — no, not that Ryan Howard. This Howard has a similar skill set as Hinojosa, and is progressing through the system.
Howard played a lot more than expected this spring, and will start the season at Richmond. Evidently, he has a similar skill set to Matt Duffy as well, and his stock is on the rise.
Ultimately, the suspension to Hinojosa is not good news, especially since this appears to be a pattern of poor decision-making. Hopefully, he can come back, and stay on the field.