The biggest move of the off-season so far has undoubtedly been the Jean Segura for Taijuan Walker deal. While many analysts focused on the top of the bill, Mitch Haniger is the man most intriguing from that swap.
4. Mitch Haniger
The secondary piece in the Segura-Walker swap, Haniger, had a breakout season in 2016. He was a Supplemental 1st Round pick in 2012 by the Brewers but really struggled in the low minors. After being traded to Arizona in the Gerardo Parra trade in 2015, Haniger finally stayed healthy and put all of his raw skills together in 2016.
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He was a Supplemental 1st Round pick in 2012 by the Brewers but really struggled in the low minors partly due to injury. After being traded to Arizona in the Gerardo Parra trade back in 2015, Haniger finally stayed healthy and put all of his raw skills together for this past year.
He has excellent bat speed, resulting in impressive raw power to all fields.
He hit 25 home runs between AA and AAA, adding 5 more in a brief stint with the D-Backs in September. Haniger also has a solid approach, producing 81 walks across all 3 levels in 2016.
He doesn’t have blazing speed, but is a smart and capable base-runner.
He stole 12 bases and scored 88 runs in last season. Haniger also has an above average arm, which makes him a great fit in right field.
The most surprising aspect of his game is his defense. While most scouts don’t think he has the speed to stick in center field, he played it excellently this past campaign.
In fact, he had the second best Ultimate Zone Rating -a sabermetric stat that measures how many runs a player have allowed or stopped- amongst OF with 250+ Innings played.
Whether this is just a small sample size bump or not remains to be seen, but Haniger doesn’t have to be the everyday centerfielder. Leonys Martin will handle the majority of the centerfield duties. But if he can spell Martin in small spurts, it could benefit both players.
Leonys Martin will handle the majority of the centerfield duties. But, if he can spell Martin in small spurts, it could benefit both players.
It appears that he will at least be a serviceable platoon 4th outfielder but has the upside to be much more. A .321/.419/.581 slash in the high minors does beg the question: why aren’t the “experts” more excited about Haniger?
A .321/.419/.581 slash in the high minors does beg the question: why aren’t the “experts” more excited about Haniger?
It could be a simple case of prospect fatigue. Haniger was a first round pick, so, therefore he has been under the microscope for a while. Most scouts don’t like to be proven wrong, even once, so as a result, some may be skeptical about prospect’s potential rebound.
MLB Pipeline has Haniger as the Mariners 15th best prospect. Others are more optimistic.
Jerry Dipoto has had 4 interviews with local radio shows this offseason, and 2 prospects have been mentioned in all 4: Mitch Haniger and Andrew Moore.