As we continue our season review of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, we talk with Dylan Sinn, who just completed his first season as the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette beat writer with the TinCaps. Sinn studied journalism at Indiana University and earned a masters degree from the University of Maryland in 2017. In addition to his work with the TinCaps, he’ll provide coverage of Notre Dame football and Indiana Basketball.
MadFriars: This was your first year covering the TinCaps for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Can you tell us a little about your experience?
Dylan Sinn: I had a great experience. It was an up and down season with a young team, but it was a lot of fun to follow them throughout the season as they progressed and matured. I really enjoyed going out to Parkview Field every day because there’s not really a better experience in Minor League baseball from what I have seen.
MacKenzie Gore was obviously the headliner for the team, and we know that many of our readers are highly interested in any insight you may have on him. Would you say he was every bit as good as advertised or was there something lacking?
Dylan Sinn: It is a little bit tough, but I would say he was as good as advertised…just not as often you would like. The Padres expect him to one day be a workhorse, and I think he expects that of himself. But he is probably going to be a 200 inning guy one day, and this year he saw some issues with the blister and later on with the fingernail…
In terms of stuff, he was every bit as good as advertised. He‘s got four pitches that he can all throw for strikes. The fastball hit 95-96 mph at times, so by stuff alone, he was too good for the Midwest League. It’s the durability that is a bit of question now since we haven’t seen him pitch in a rotation for very long. He was only able to do it for a month and a half of the season, so that is something he will need to prove a bit next year.
Speaking of players who were too much for the Midwest League, Luis Patino came out of obscurity to dominate the league. What did you see out of him and what are his chances to remain a starter when he reaches the majors?
Dylan Sinn: Based on what I knew about him, I would have said about him coming into the season that he was destined for the bullpen with the fastball, slider combo that he had, but from what I saw this year, he seemed to have a starter’s repertoire. His fastball hit 99 at Parkview field during one game. He said his goal the entire year was to try and hit 100, and while he didn’t quite get there, he got 99. He’s able to paint [the fastball] for strikes as often as he needs to. The slider is very good, and he is working to develop the curveball, and so that is something if he develops that could propel him to the upper echelon of the minors and to the majors as a starter. If it doesn’t get there, he could be a really talented back-end reliever, but the curveball is the key for him.
Now, were there any members of the rotation this year that surprised you?
Dylann Sinn: The surprising one this year was Tom Cosgrove down the stretch. He was just really consistent, and he was the only pitcher that was on the opening day roster to be with the team at the end of the season. For most of the season, he flew under the radar as a middling starter, but for the second half, he was just one of the best pitchers the TinCaps had and went out there every sixth day, throwing six innings in almost all of his starts. I think he even struck out ten guys in one of those starts, so he had a little more swing and miss in the second half, which is something we didn’t see from him in the past. He even got the honors of starting the “win or go home” game to finish out the season.
There’s a lot of hype around Tirso Ornelas, and I know he had his season cut short, but after seeing him in the first half, what did you think?
Dylan Sinn: I think he definitely met the hype as well. He’s got a lot of power, and from I have heard, he seems to have grown into his body and is a lot more muscular than he used to be…He has a lot of power, great bat to ball ability, and can hit the ball to all fields. The biggest thing for him is just cutting down on the swing and miss in his game. That and developing the power he has because while he has the power in practice, he didn’t have a ton of home runs before he went on the DL. The power was there, but it wasn’t a huge part of his game, so he’s going to need to develop it to make at the next levels.
Since you were also able to see quite a bit of Luis Campusano, could you share thoughts on both his bat and his work behind the plate?
Dylan Sinn: Luis has a good eye at the plate and walked a lot. He hit cleanup for the TInCaps for a good portion of the year. He didn’t hit for a lot of power, which is something you expected to see more of, with a slugging percentage below .400 for a part of the year. Still, he had a good on-base percentage and a good bat to ball skills. So there is stuff to like there, but he is another one that needs to develop the power.
Behind the plate, he has some work to do, and there were probably a few too many passed balls. He did do a good job of calling games, and the pitchers seemed to enjoy working with him. He was definitely passable behind the plate and it looks like he could be a catcher long-term.
We had Esteury Ruiz as the MadFriars position player of the year for Fort Wayne. Is that something you would agree with or is there someone you say that had a more impressive offensive season?
Dylan Sinn: I think offensively that it has to be him. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game right now and that’s something he is going to have to work on going forward with too many strikeouts, but other than that, you have got to love the rest of the tools. He has enormous power for such a little guy, and unlike Ornelas, there is some projection left for him. He is probably always going to be a free swinger and strike out a lot, but if he can harness some of that power, he can be a great player. Ruiz has a lot of speed on base paths and really harnessed that this year with nearly 50 stolen bases on the season.
The biggest thing with him, after cutting down on the swing and miss, is that he still needs to find a position because he struggled at second base this year. I wouldn’t say he was bad, but he was below average compared to other Midwest League second baseman. So if he is going to be a major leaguer [at second], there is probably going to need to be an improvement there very quickly.
One more position player that stood out to us was Jeisson Rosario. Can you tell us how advanced his hitting was and whether you believe he can translate some of that speed and athleticism to more steals on the base paths?
Dylan Sinn: I think it will; he is only 18 and a lot of guys that age have a lot to learn about the finer points of the game, and baserunning is one of them. You can’t be taught the speed that Rosario has, and he has plenty of it. He’s a special athlete, and his backflips running from the outfield were one of the most entertaining things for fans to see. He does have a great eye at the plate, and his walk rate was great.
His walk rate for April and May was nearly 25 percent, which is out of this world. If I recall, he had one stretch where he had four walks in three straight games, and so that’s exactly the kind of advanced approach that the Padres are trying to instill in their young players.
I know that the Midwest League is a long way from the Majors, so I am going to ask you a tough question. If you had to pick among Ornelas, Ruiz, and Rosario to say who might be an impact player in the big league’s one day, who would you choose?
Dylan Sinn: I would have to go with Ornelas right now just because he has the best combination of power and bat to ball skills at this point. I don’t know if Rosario will ever hit for enough power to be an impact player. His slugging percentage was under .400, so it is tough to project a guy like that into the major leagues no matter how much athleticism he has. With Ruiz, I am worried that his swing is a little bit long… so for me, it has to be Ornleas. He could be a guy that hits 20 home runs, bats .270 and gets on base at a .350 clip. He has that kind of talent.
Now, you went to school both in Indiana and on the East Coast. Who are rooting for in the Colts and Patriots game this evening?
Dylan Sinn: I am definitely rooting for the Colts. I am from the Chicago area originally so I am a Bears fan. Anytime I get a chance to root against the Patriots is always fun. My editor here at the Journal Gazette is a Patriots fan, so it is always fun to be in here with him on game nights.