Saints Sign Catcher Chris Chinea
ST. PAUL, MN (June 18, 2020) – Chances are if you committed a crime in the 80s you were going to be caught by Crockett and Tubbs. The defending champion St. Paul Saints are hoping their new catcher, from Miami, will have the same success when runners try stealing this year. Chris Chinea, whose father was a regular extra on Miami Vice and was once slapped in an episode by Don Johnson, adds some power at the plate and a solid arm behind the dish.
The 26-year-old Chinea spent last year between Double-A Springfield (83 games) and Triple-A Memphis (six games) in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Overall, he hit .279 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 89 games. In 294 at bats he scored 29 runs, ripped 15 doubles, one triple, with a .322 on base percentage, and a .439 slugging percentage. He threw out 22.9% of base stealers.
Chinea was a 17th round pick by the Cardinals in 2015 out of LSU and spent all, but the final two games of that season at the Rookie Level with Johnson City. He hit .313 with six home runs and 27 RBI in 44 games. In 160 at bats he scored 19 runs, had 11 doubles, one triple, a .356 on base percentage, and a .506 slugging percentage for an .863 OPS. He began his career with a six-game hitting streak and collected an RBI in his first three games. Chinea homered in back-to-back games on August 29 and 30. He was promoted to the New York-Penn League and played the final two games of the season with the State College Spikes. He threw out 35% of base stealers. His impressive numbers earned him an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star nod.
In 2016, Chinea spent the entire season in the Midwest League with the Single-A Peoria Chiefs. He finished seventh in the league in batting average, hitting .312 with six home runs and 63 RBI in 99 games. In 381 at bats he scored 40 runs, smashed 24 doubles, a .350 on base percentage, and .423 slugging percentage for a .772 OPS. Chinea played just 21 games behind the plate and threw out 25% of base stealers. The Chiefs made the playoffs, but lost two-games-to-none to the Clinton LumberKings in the quarterfinals. Chinea put together a 12-game hitting streak from May 4-20 and hit in 21 of 22 from May-June 2. For the second straight season he homered in back-to-back games on June 10 and 11.
Chinea played a career high 123 games in 2017, all at High-A Palm Beach hitting .260 with six home runs and 48 RBI. In 466 at bats he scored 48 runs, ripped 24 doubles, had a .315 on base percentage and a .350 slugging percentage. He finished in the top 10 in at bats (6th), games (7th), doubles (T9th), and hits (10th with 121). He spent most of the season playing first base and caught 14 games throwing out three of nine base stealers. Chinea put together an impressive streak of reaching base safely in 23 consecutive games from May 12-June 9, which included a career high 16-game hitting streak from May 12-28. He also set a career high with seven RBI on July 29.
His power started to materialize in 2018 where he spent the entire season at Double-A Springfield. Chinea hit .231 with 14 home runs and 39 RBI in 89 games. In 299 at bats he scored 39 runs, pounded 12 doubles, had a .269 on base percentage and a .411 slugging percentage. He caught just 13 games that year and threw out two of 17 base stealers. On June 28 and 29, Chinea had back to-back home runs for the third time in his career.
Chinea showcased his skills during his junior season at LSU where he was named 1st Team All-Louisiana, 2nd Team All-SEC, 1st Team ABCA All-South Region, NCAA Baton Rouge Regional All-Tournament Team and 3rd Team All-American.
During his senior year in high school, Chinea was the Miami Herald Player of the Year for Class 1A through 4A and a Baseball America and Louisville Slugger All-American at Gulliver Prep High School.
This is the 11th off-season signing for the Saints.
RHP Tanner Kiest
RHP Eddie Medina
RHP Matt Quintana
RHP Matt Solter
RHP Ryan Zimmerman
C Chris Chinea
INF Josh Allen
INF Telvin Nash*
INF John Silviano
INF Chesny Young
OF Max Murphy
*Telvin Nash was signed by the Saints, but is currently playing in Japan.
The St. Paul Saints will begin the defense of their title on July 3 in Sioux Falls against the Sioux Falls Canaries. The Saints will play out of the Sioux Falls hub for their home games until outdoor events are able to open to larger crowds in Minnesota. For more information and the 2020 schedule visit saintsbaseball.com.
by Sean Aronson
St. Paul Saints