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Player Comments: Billy Hamilton, Jesse Hahn, Mitch Haniger, Travis Harrison

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Billy Hamilton
Billy Hamilton
Michael Chang

Here are four more draft player comments from the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book.

The book has 1210 player comments like these plus statistics for the last two years. It will ship to pre-orders on February 2nd.

Jesse Hahn, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-5 WT: 185 DOB: July 30, 1989

SLEEPER ALERT! Virginia Tech's Jesse Hahn was going to be a first round pick in 2010 until he hurt his elbow late in the spring, dropping him to the sixth round. He missed 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he came back in 2012 and was very effective in the New York-Penn League, working at 92-94 MPH and hitting 98-99 at times, which was even better than he threw in college. His curveball, slider, and changeup had some rust to work off in his first few starts, but by the end of the season he looked like his old self, dominating the competition with a combination of strikeouts and grounders (2.88 GO/AO). Rays fans are aware of him, but he might be forgotten by the broader national audience. He shouldn't be, so I'm sticking the Sleeper tag on him. A healthy Hahn could become a number three starter, perhaps more. Grade C+.

Billy Hamilton, OF-SS, Cincinnati Reds
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-1 WT: 160 DOB: September 9, 1990

I'm sure you know all about Billy Hamilton at this point. He broke Vince Coleman's minor league single-season stolen base record last year, and accolades about Hamilton's blazing speed are common. But let me tell you something here: you may know all those facts, but you really cannot appreciate Hamilton's speed unless you see him in person. I don't mean on TV, I mean in the ballpark, in person. I have been watching baseball for 35 years and I have never seen anything like this guy. Vince Coleman was incredibly fast, but he didn't have the best instincts for baseball and it held him back from being the player he might otherwise have been. Hamilton isn't like that: he is the fastest man in baseball, but he knows how to use it. He runs the bases aggressively and without fear. Every ground ball puts pressure on the defense; every single or walk has a good chance of becoming a double, or a triple. Unlike many speed demon types, Hamilton understands the importance of plate discipline and will take his walks. His SEC last year was .508. Although he'll never be a home run hitter, all he needs to do is make enough contact and show enough strength to make the pitchers respect him, and he showed that last year with a reduction in his strikeout rate and a boost in walks. Hamilton's glovework at shortstop wasn't that bad, but he's a better fit in the outfield and the Reds are moving him there. Expect Hamilton to open 2013 in Triple-A, working on his outfield defense and driving batteries insane. Grade A-.

Mitch Haniger, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 180 DOB: December 23, 1990

Haniger was drafted out of Cal Poly by the Brewers in the supplemental first round last June, signing slightly below slot value for $1,200,000. He played two weeks in the Midwest League and looked pretty good, until a knee injury ended his campaign early. Haniger is viewed as a solid power hitter with a strong throwing arm and average speed. He controlled the strike zone well in college, and nothing he did in his brief tenure for Wisconsin went against the college scouting reports. Although Haniger is not seen by most as a future star, he has the tools and skills to be something like a .260-.280 hitter with 15-20 homers per season, a solid OBP, with reasonable defense at a corner outfield spot. Grade B-.

Travis Harrison, 3B, Minnesota Twins
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-1 WT: 215 DOB: October 17, 1992

Harrison was a supplemental first round pick in '11, out of high school in Tustin, California, signing for $1,050,000. He performed well statistically in the Appalachian League last year, posting a strong 138 wRC+ and a +19 percent OPS, hitting for both power and average. Despite the numbers and his draft pedigree, scouting reports are oddly mixed. Some observers really like his bat, seeing plus raw power and solid hitting instincts. Others, however, say that his swing won't work at higher levels and that his defense at third base is very poor. The latter is a good point; he has enough arm strength, but his range is limited and he's very error-prone. He will probably end up at first base, increasing the pressure on his bat. Although I understand the defensive skepticism, the complaints about Harrison's hitting are strange to me. He could stand to add some plate discipline, but there are no red flags in the pro numbers so far, he mashed in high school against top competition, and any swing flaws don't stand out to me as a big deal at this point. It will be interesting to see what happens in Low-A. For now, I'll stand pat. Grade B-.