Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Let's Talk Prospects" - Mitch Haniger

I was hoping to get started on this feature earlier this month, until I realized just how busy my schedule was going to be lately.

From now through Opening Day, The Book of Gorman is going to highlight the best and brightest prospects in the Brewers' system. Our goal is to help you learn a little more about who these players are, where they come from and what role you should expect them to fill on the big league club one day.

So without further ado, here's our first prospect...

Mitchell E. Haniger

  • Born 12/23/1990
  • Hometown: Santa Clara, CA
  • Height: 6'2" 
  • Weight:180 lbs
  • College: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • Selected by the Brewers as a supplemental pick in the 1st round (38th overall) of the 2012 Amateur Draft.
  • Finished last year with: Low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Hailing from California's Bay Area, Mitch Haniger has grown up with the game of baseball. He comes from a big baseball family with his brother, Jason, and cousin both being drafted by major league teams. Haniger gained some recognition as a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School (CA) when he hit .364 with a school record 12 home runs, and found himself ranked 73rd on Max Preps' Best Senior list in 2009. He was drafted out of high school in the 31st round that year by the New York Mets, but did not sign, choosing instead to play college ball at Cal Poly.

Haniger's success continued at Cal Poly, where he earned many awards throughout his collegiate career. During his first year in 2010, Haniger won the Big West Freshman Player of the Year award, and as a Junior in 2012, he took home Conference Player of the Year honors after leading the Big West in home runs (13), RBI (64) and slugging percentage (.626).

Following his final year at Cal Poly, the Brewers drafted Haniger with the 38th overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft and assigned him right out to their Low-A affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Haniger appeared in just 14 games for the T-Rats after suffering a season-ending knee injury on July 5th, but still showed promise in his brief-stint by accumulating an .808 OPS with 5 extra-base hits over 49 ABs.

Scouting report:

Haniger has a mature approach to the game at this point, which means he could move quick  through the Brewers' system. He has solid contact ability, good power and average speed, making him a fairly balanced player offensively. On defense, Haniger has above-average arm strength and good enough instincts to handle all three outfield positions.

Haniger profiles as more of a high-floor player with a relatively limited ceiling. None of his offensive tools are really exceptional, and though he has the prowess to handle center field, it's likely that his limited speed will land him in a corner outfield position down the road.

That's not to say Haniger couldn't be a good player, though. The issue mostly lies in that his bat profiles better in center field, but scouts are doubtful he can stick there long term. He has the ability to be a plus defender in right field, and if he can add a little more power to his offensive game, he has a chance to be a solid everyday player.  

Should Haniger fall short of his potential, he could be a versatile 4th outfielder with some pop, which is still a valuable asset on any team. Overall, there's certainly a lot to like about Haniger, and having a good work ethic can take a player with his skillset pretty far.

What's ahead:

Haniger is likely to pick up where he left off last season by starting 2013 with the Timber Rattlers. If he has a good showing in spring camp (especially with his health), though, he could find himself getting assigned right away to the Brevard County Manatees at the Advanced-A level.

As mentioned before, there's a good chance that Haniger moves fast through the system regardless of where he starts, so it's possible we could be seeing him with the big league club as early as 2014. It certainly appears that if all goes well health-wise from here on out, the future could be pretty bright for Haniger.

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