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RHP Jesus Tinoco and Fine Wine: Only Getting Better with Time

Jesus Tinoco is developing poise, pitches and perfection in 2015

RHP Jesus Tinoco and Fine Wine: Only Getting Better with Time

June 3, 2015

Jesus Tinoco

RHP Jesus Tinoco is a starting pitcher in his first year with the Lansing Lugnuts. (Kyle Castle/MiLB.com)

The number one focus of the minor leagues is to develop your game for continued success at the major league level. Unfortunately some players have struggles at times during this process that can make their stats look like they are having trouble when they’re actually getting better.

That’s why it’s important to watch prospects play in person to fully appreciate their ability and to understand their value moving forward.

This concept definitely holds true for right-handed pitcher Jesus Tinoco. Currently 1-3 this season with the Lansing Lugnuts; Tinoco has only won three games in his professional career that began back in 2012 in the Dominican Summer League.

Sitting on a career record of 3-22 and a 4.56 ERA and 152 strikeouts in his 175 2/3 innings of professional baseball; Tinoco has performed better than his record would indicate as the prospect features excellent control with his pitches. Recognized for his above-average sinking fastball that has the ability to hit around 96 miles per hour during the season, the righty knows he has a direct advantage over most guys who throw sinking fastballs, as most sinkers top out in the low-90’s.

“My sinker is something that came natural to me as I got older,” explained Tinoco. “The harder I threw the ball the more it sank I can’t explain how it happened, but I’m happy with the results. My fastball is definitely my biggest strength on the mound. I’m confident throwing it in any situation.”

Using this pitch to get ahead in counts every outing in his career, Tinoco has carried a respectable 7.8 K/9 ratio for his four year professional career. The biggest question mark for Tinoco when he signed with the Blue Jays as an international free agent in 2011 was whether he could find consistency with his off-speed pitches during his minor league development.

Jesus Tinoco

RHP Jesus Tinoco outside the Blue Jays Spring Training Complex. (Facebook)

If any fans were worried about the future of this prospect their minds can be put to ease a bit, as Tinoco is commanding his curveball and changeup extremely well in the early stages of his first full season. Understanding the importance of keeping hitters off-balance, Tinoco is also developing a slider as well. Focusing on this pitch during the off-season, Tinoco now has the ability to throw four different pitches on any given day.

“Every day my secondary pitches are getting better,” stated Tinoco. “Improving my command on my secondary pitches is something I work hard on daily and they’re getting better. I feel I’m commanding them way better than I did last year and I’m happy with the results.”

The increased command of his secondary pitches is showing through his six starts in Lansing, as the prospect is currently sporting career bests in ERA at 3.26 and in opponent batting average with hitters only managing a .242 average against him.

But it’s not just the command that’s helping Tinoco improve every facet of his game. It’s his mindset when he goes out to the hill every night.

“Last year my confidence went down a bit over the season, so this year I’m working on keeping my confidence up all year,” explained Tinoco. “No matter what happens on the field this season I’m 100% focused on keeping my confidence up.”

Impressed with the 20-year old’s pitches, Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach, Jeff Ware, is helping Tinoco a lot with his mechanics. As they work on the techniques he needs to master during his bullpen sessions, Ware feels the prospect isn’t too far away from being an elite pitcher in the Blue Jays’ system.

“I think Jesus Tinoco is doing well here in Lansing,” stated Ware. “I know his numbers don’t show it right now as he is currently 1-3. But with that said he has thrown the ball well. Jesus had a few tough breaks early in the year with runs being scored on hits that just found the holes. I think he’s throwing well though and he’s only going to get better. He’s 20-years old and got a good arm with good secondary pitches. Jesus is going to do well here this year.”

Jesus Tinoco

RHP Jesus Tinoco at the Toronto Blue Jays’ Spring Training camp. (Facebook)

Ware added, “With Jesus we want him to repeat his delivery. Sometimes he’ll land a little bit soft on his front side and spin off towards first base. We’re just trying to get him to do the things we want him to do in games in the bullpen so he can build trust in it and be able to take it out to the games. Once he gets that down he’ll be a really good pitcher.”

Knowing he would have a great opportunity to pitch in Lansing all season if his spring went well. Tinoco put in a lot of work this past off-season to be prepared for the challenges of an increased workload that a full season schedule brings to the table.

“In the off-season I basically just focused on getting stronger,” said Tinoco. “Knowing I was going to have an opportunity to make it to Lansing this year I was focused on preparing my body for a full season of baseball. Another area I focused on was my slider and my mechanics. I felt if I could get those areas down I would be prepared for the challenge.”

“Obviously, I’m going to throw more innings this year than ever before, so I need to focus on maintaining my weight and condition my body in the right ways,” he added. “I keep those ideas in the back of my mind every day so I can keep my arm in the best shape possible to compete every fifth day.”

Arriving in Lansing in April gave the young prospect another valuable skill that he’ll be able to take away from his Midwest League experience. Playing in cold weather is an ability he’ll need to possess to compete successfully at higher levels of play.

“Pitching in cold weather was really different for me as I have always pitched in warm weather,” said Tinoco. “At first it was kind of hard, but after a while you get used to it. I’d say two or three games into my season I felt better pitching in cold weather and now that I got that down I’m confident pitching in any condition.”

Hopefully Jesus Tinoco can take all the skills he has learned along his professional journey and take his game to the Major League level one day.