Phillies: Righty prospect Connor Hinchliffe ready to impress

A general view of baseballs (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
A general view of baseballs (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Phillies pitching prospect Connor Hinchliffe is not letting the pandemic get in the way of his goals.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, pitchers have to make the most of what they have to stay prepared, in case they are called upon to report. Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitching prospect Connor Hinchliffe is doing just that at his home in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

He even took the extra step to creatively turn his driveway into what WBRE in Wilkes-Barre reports as a “high-tech bullpen.” Hinchliffe, 23, throws to a fake batter, and also trains and plays catch with his brother daily; he even uses equipment to track his spin rate and velocity. For him, whatever it takes to get reps in.

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“This isn’t obviously the spring that I had in mind,” Hinchliffe, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, told WBRE. “I set goals for myself going into the season, and [am] trying to keep that same mindset of just waking up every day. If I’m going toward those and attaining them, then I’m in the right direction.”

The La Salle University alumnus signed a deal with his hometown team last June; Hinchliffe said that he is “incredibly grateful to play professional baseball,” and that one year prior, he never thought it would be possible. He added: “To be given the opportunity to play for the hometown Phillies is amazing. I can’t wait to wear the Philadelphia ‘P’ on my chest.”

Hinchliffe grew up as a catcher and began his collegiate playing career in 2017 in the outfield. The following year he split time between the mound and the outfield grass, but it wasn’t until 2019 when the La Salle Explorer was a full-time thrower.

And, he still found a way to tie the school record for saves in a season, 13, led the Atlantic 10 with 28 relief appearances, and was among the national leaders in saves throughout the season. His 2.27 ERA and 1.31 WHIP led the Explorers, as he held opposing hitters to just a .181 batting average.

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Hinchliffe credits his mom for helping him to where he is today: “At the advice of my mom, and I’ll give her credit, she said, ‘Why don’t you start pitching, now that you’re not catching anymore?'” Hinchliffe told WBRE. “So, I was like, ‘You know what? Ok, I’ll give it a try. I can either go with this and run with it, or kind of fold it in and pack it up.’ Luckily, I made the decision to work hard at it and hit the ground running my senior year, and luckily got an opportunity to play professionally.”

Last year with the GCL Phillies West, Hinchliffe appeared in 16 games and allowed no home runs and just five earned runs spanning 24 2/3 innings en route to a 1.82 ERA. However, he walked as many batters as he struck out (17). Looking to improve his game, the right-hander told WBRE that he hopes minor leaguers can have some sort of organized camp soon, even if they don’t get to play games.

“I’m trying to come back next season, or whenever we play, and make an impression on the Phillies, and hopefully, climb through the system and be successful one way or another.”