Livonia, Michigan product Mike Kinkade was drafted twice by the Milwaukee Brewers, once after his junior year at Washington State University (he elected to stay for his final year) and then in the ninth round by the Brewers in the 1995 MLB June Amateur Draft. While at WSU, he set career marks in runs scored, doubles, and total bases. He ranks in the top five all-time as a Cougar in runs batted in, hits, triples, and batting average.
After being selected by Milwaukee, Kinkade reported to Pioneer Rookie League team Helena, where he hit .353/.452/.477 in 325 plate appearances, earning a promotion to Class A (Midwest) Beloit in 1996, where he scorched the ball to the tune of .304/.395/.478 in 583 trips to the dish. That number seemed odd, until I saw his Ron Hunt-like HBP stats, which showed 32 plunks during the year.
That sent Kinkade to El Paso, where he played at Cohen Stadium. The park was hitter-friendly like the previous park (Dudley Field), but the home run numbers were quite a bit lower than the ‘Dudley Dome.’
For his excellent season in 1997, Mike Kinkade earned his spot on the Reviewing the Brew Top Hitters in Milwaukee Brewers Minor League History.
#10 Mike Kinkade, 1997 El Paso (AA)
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Kinkade earned the Most Valuable Player award in El Paso based on his season in which he lead the Texas League in runs (112), hits (180), RBIs (109), batting average (.385), on-base percentage (.455), OPS (1.043), and total bases (275). He earned runner-up status with 12 three-baggers and ranked third with a .588 slugging percentage and 13 hit-by-pitches.
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The only downside to the season was the fact that he committed 60 errors (yes, five dozen of them) at third base in only 106 games. Call him ‘Clank’ but the guy was a hitting machine, cranking out line drives to every expanse of the outfield grass that year in the west Texas town.
Kinkade began the following season at Class AAA Louisville, but got traded to the New York Mets on July 31, 1998 for one-time phenom Bill Pulsipher.
Almost exactly two years later, Kinkade got traded to the Baltimore Orioles after getting ‘Cups of Joe’ at the big league level with the Mets between 1998-2000.
He played for the USA Olympic Team in 2000 in a gold medal winning effort.
He showed some promise in Baltimore in 2001, slashing .275/.345/.381 in 177 plate appearances. As a reward, he was released by the Orioles and was signed in late-January 2002 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2002, he had a great season for the Dodgers, hitting .380/.483/.600 in just 60 trips to the plate. That earned him more playing time the next season, when he played in 88 games, but only managed a slash line of .216/.335/.352 for Los Angeles.
Kinkade was released after the 2003 season, but never saw major league action after that, despite playing for the Indians, Marlins, Cubs, Yankees, and Mariners organizations over the next four seasons.
He played in 26 games in Japan in 2004 but retired from baseball after that.
Mike Kinkade had a great season in 1997 El Paso, but never became the superstar the Brewers thought he would become.