BLUF: Athleticism, power arm and power bat all fit in right field long term.
The Player: Mitch Haniger (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – Haniger was a supplemental round pick in 2012 after a successful career at Cal Poly. After being pushed straight to the Low-A Midwest League, Haniger hit a solid .286 in 14 games with four doubles and his first professional home run.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 200): Physical. MLB body. Plus athlete that was a wide receiver in high school. Good present strength and some room to add more without becoming bulky and thick. Plus body.
Hit: Plus raw bat speed but often plays down because of noisy and inconsistent load. Often late starting swing, particularly against premium velo. Showed some improvement getting to the zone last spring but needs to make more improvements. Would be exploited inside by better pitchers at higher levels right now. Has potential to ultimately hit .270-.275 if he can gain consistency in the first third of his swing mechanics. Hard contact is frequent and very loud. Ball jumps off his bat to all fields. Well below-average hitter now with potential to improve a grade quickly and possibly another grade after adjusting to better pitching. Grade – 30/50
Power: Needs two-grade jump in hit tool utility for power to shine through. Easy plus raw to all fields with mammoth shots to pull side. Ball explodes off his bat thanks to natural strength and plus bat speed. Shows ability to lift ball to pull side and has potential for 20+ home runs with hit tool progression. Oppo power may not be as overpowering but he should still drive for doubles that way. Plus power projection is aggressive but I believe in the thump. Grade (raw power) – 50/60
Arm: Excellent OF arm. Easy plus with plenty of velo and quick release. Gets it out of his hand easily and shows very good accuracy. Throws are low and routinely through the cutoff, amking it useable at all times. Plus without issue. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Good athlete and average runner, but slowing down a bit with physical maturity. Played CF in college but doesn’t fit there long term. Solid instincts but not enough to overcome lack of raw up-the-middle ability. Profiles well with athleticism and arm strength in right field. At least an average glove long term, possibly above-average with polish. Grade – 50/50
Speed: Can show occasional average times down the line and more consistent average running ability once underway on longer runs. Slowed some throughout college and doesn’t project as an average runner long term. May hold in fringe-average range but further development of the body type will dictate where the run goes; maintain average projection in short term. Grade – 50/50
Summation: Quality overall profile for corner OF. Two plus tools in power and arm. Ball jumps off bat and explodes to the pull side. Shows ability to drive the other way too. Potential for plenty of doubles and 20+ home runs. Hit tool must make healthy jump to fully realize power potential. Hands must quiet in load/trigger to allow the bat to the get to the zone quickly. If adjustments are made, average hitter with solid approach and power to go with it. Defense fits in right field with good athleticism, fringe-average run long term and easy plus arm. Potential solid-average corner OF that plays hard and hits fifth in a big league lineup.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Advanced college player that can move quickly. Requires hit tool jump but has made some adjustments in last two years already.
Future: Haniger could probably handle an assignment to High-A out of the gate in 2013 as long as ups and downs are expected, but the Brewers may send him back to Low-A to start and allow him to build confidence and make further adjustments. His ability to adjust his swing mechanics and pre-emptively adapt to what he’s going to face at higher levels will determine how quickly he moves once he reaches Double-A. If things go smoothly, he could be on the big league radar late in 2015 or 2016.