Former Co-Lin star in Yankee system

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 9, 2001

Many area baseball fans remember Denham Springs, La. productJason “Spanky” Kinchen from his glory days at Copiah-LincolnCommunity College.

Fact is, Kinchen 25, still remembers those happy college days onthe Wesson campus and those crazy nights of surfing BrookwayBoulevard in Brookhaven, almost like it was yesterday, instead of1995-96.

“Those memories of riding the boulevard in Brookhaven are stillfresh in my mind,” said Kinchen. “I also remember those fine folksat the Wesson Cafe that put up with me my two years at Co-Lin.”

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Kinchen, now a promising young star in the New York Yankeesminor league system in single A Greensboro, N.C., has been on atear in recent months. He has collected 17 home runs, 14 doubles,five stolen bases, two triples, and 50 RBI’s on a .315 battingaverage. Kinchen also has earned high praise from several Yankeesscouts in the franchise about a possible call-up to the Yankeesdouble A system.

“He’s one of the top player prospects in our franchise rightnow,” said Yankees scout Leon White. “He’s producing numbers at theplate and he’s doing a good job defensively at first base. Iwouldn’t be surprised to see him playing double-A ball before theseason’s over and possibly starting next in triple A.”

Kinchen, a former walk-on at Copiah-Lincoln Community College,almost didn’t make the team his freshman year, after feeling out ofplace from his high school hometown in Denham Springs, La. Kinchenimpressed Co-Lin head coach Keith Case on the final day ofscrimmages with three powerful home runs that kept his name off thecut list and on the Co-Lin team.

“Jason’s climb is truly a huge success story,” said Coach Case.”He’s earned his dues the hard way. He always found ways to get thejob done.”

Kinchen also developed the nickname, Spanky, at Co-Lin for somewild reason. And that nickname has stuck to him ever sense.

“They called me Spanky, during my stay in Wesson. Added Kinchen.”Ever sense then it kind of stuck,”

After his two year stint with Co-Lin, Kinchen was issued a fullpaid scholarship to NAIA powerhouse Brewton Parker College inGeorgia. Kinchen says that his junior year at Brewton Parker reallychanged his fundamentals of the game for the better.

“My junior year at Brewton Parker I paid more attention to mybody and strength in weight room training,” continued Kinchen. “Iadded 15 pounds of muscle to my six foot, 200 pound frame thatincreased my power game.”

Kinchen’s proudest moment so far has been his senior season atBrewton Parker when his team won the NAIA National Championship.After that, Kinchen’s ride to the majors hit a difficult stretch ashe was forced to wait tables at night to continue his dream ofplaying baseball.

Kinchen played for an independent league team posted in thenortheast United States for two years, when his fortune turned tothe New Yankees franchise as a free agent signing deal, that placedhim in the Yankees developmental single A system in Staten Island,NY.

After compiling an impressive resume of 19 homers, 67 RBI’s, and14 stolen bases for the Yankees developmental system. Kinchensigned a five-year deal with the Yankees organization that prompteda move up to Greensboro.

Kinchen has made the most of his stay at Greensboro, hitting hisway to a second place ranking in the class single A system for homeruns. Kinchen also made the South Atlantic All-Star game lastmonth, where he connected on a 400-foot blast for his East All-Starteam.

Kinchen also played with a majority of the Yankees Major League,during the Yankees spring training drills.

“I got to meet and play with and against Derek Jeter, JoseCansaco, Randy Schook, Bernie Williams, and Paul O’Neil,” saidKinchen. “Those guys are very well conditioned physically andmentally for the game.”

Kinchen’s team the Greensboro Bats (48-37) are poised to make arun for the South Atalntic playoffs. Baring a call-up or injuryKinchen is excited about the prospects of playing playoff ball.

“In the playoffs you’re team is really tested,” added Kinchen.”You find out what you’re really made of then.”

Right now, Kinchen just wants to continue what he does best byhitting the ball as far as possible.