Lancaster, California —— Entering play on Thursday night, Colorado Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Jesus Tinoco is 4-1 with a 4.99 ERA over nine starts for the High-A Lancaster JetHawks with 29 strikeouts against 19 walks and 61 hits allowed in 48.2 innings pitched in 2017. I’ve observed the Colorado Rockies’ big right-handed pitcher twice this year; below is Baseball Census‘ full Jesus Tinoco scouting report, including video.
Jesus Tinoco Scouting Report — Video
Here’s our full game video of every pitch that Jesus Tinoco threw during his June 12 start for the JetHawks at home against the Lake Elsinore Storm:
In that June 12 start, Tinoco went five full innings, earning the win and allowing four runs on nine hits and two walks across 90 pitches (62 strikes).
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Jesus Tinoco Scouting Report — Notes
Brought over from the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade two years ago, the Colorado Rockies had high hopes for Jesus Tinoco entering 2016 after he cruised through Low-A Asheville in his first few months in the organization. But last year, which began with the High-A California League’s Modesto Nuts, didn’t go as planned: while Tinoco had reportedly been living in the low- to mid-90s early in his career, he was working at just 85-88 mph in Modesto. He got hammered to the tune of a 14.85 ERA in four starts (37 hits allowed in just 13.1 innings pitched) before he was sent back down to Asheville.
Now he’s back in High-A again with the Colorado Rockies’ new affiliate in the Cal League, the Lancaster JetHawks, and his arm strength at least looks significantly better. On June 12, in his ninth start of the 2017 season, Tinoco was 92-95 mph early on with his fastball, though he noticeably dropped down to 89-92 mph later on in the game (he lasted five innings on 90 pitches).
Tinoco’s fastball has a good bit of arm-side run at times, and when he’s down in the zone with it he can use his 6’4” frame and long arm to get good downward plane that can be tough to square up. When the fastball is up in the zone, though, it flattens out to a single plane and shows comparatively less run. His arm strength is significantly better than it was early last year—a welcome development to be sure—but his fastball still may not have enough life or natural movement beyond popping the occasional mid-90s reading on a radar gun to survive against better hitters if it isn’t precisely commanded.
In addition to the fastball, Tinoco throws a very tight 85-87 mph slider that he commands decently well to both sides of the plate. Early on here in Lancaster he’s been having some success with it as a back foot pitch to lefties, giving him another wrinkle against them to show the second and third time through the batting order. Tinoco also throws an 84-85 mph changeup that hasn’t been particularly exceptional in my viewings. He’ll need to develop some consistency to it in both command and pitch life, but for now it’s a third wrinkle to at least use as a show-me pitch when he needs it and he’ll occasionally get a hitter out on his front foot.
Jesus Tinoco is noticeably bigger and looks stronger this year than he did last, and he almost certainly weighs a good bit more than his 190-lb. list weight. There’s probably still a little bit of projection left in his body, and perhaps slightly more velocity will come along with it. He’s been pretty hittable in this second go-round with the Colorado Rockies’ High-A affiliate (61 hits in 48.2 innings pitched with just 29 strikeouts), and while he’s still young with decent raw arm strength, his repertoire isn’t fooling too many hitters right now and he has little margin of error when his command is imprecise.
Jesus Tinoco Scouting Report — Projection
Hittable now with an average slider and a below average changeup, I don’t think there’s a significant long-term projection in keeping Tinoco in the starting rotation. Sure, at his age, he may be best served starting games the rest of this year—and maybe ever next year, too—but down the line he ought to be ticketed for the bullpen. His arm strength is far better now compared to early last year, though, and if he eventually starts seeing time in shorter stints, that will play up his velocity on both the fastball and slider. It’s easy to imagine him a middle reliever with an outside shot at being a set-up man if he can eventually add a tick to his velocity out of the ‘pen and work in the mid-90s with an upper 80s slider.
Until then, considering development alone, it’s not a bad thing if the Colorado Rockies kept Jesus Tinoco in the rotation for the time being. Picking up consistent innings and learning the nuances of how to pitch is never a bad thing, and another year or two of development could turn him into a fringy, interesting relief prospect once he’s able to let loose out of the bullpen. But the thought of him starting games for too many more years ought not be a reality, especially considering how absurdly deep a crop of quality starting pitchers the Colorado Rockies are currently nurturing in their system.