February 23, 2009 at 10:16 AM
The seventh installment of the Prospects Previews series focuses on a promising pitcher looking to come back from an injury, and an outfielder looking to impress at the next level.
2008 Teams: Greenville Drive
2009 Projected Team: XST and then one of the A-Ball affiliates
Strengths: Hagadone’s blistering fastball and hard, tight slider are the two best pitches in his arsenal. Sitting 94-95 MPH, his fastball explodes on hitters with excellent late life, and during his short stint in Greenville in 2008, the Red Sox had Hagadone topping out at 97 MPH with the pitch. Along with his above-average fastball velocity, Hagadone has excellent command of the pitch, able to move it from corner to corner. After signing in 2007, he dominated the NYPL with his fastball and, with the exception of his first professional start, was virtually untouched by hitters. An aggressive pitcher, Hagadone uses his fastball to get ahead in the count and to finish hitters off. His slider comes in 82-84 MPH with hard bite and quickly drops out of the strike zone into the dirt. Hagadone has the ability to throw it for a strike, but this pitch is mostly buried on hitters with very little chance of contact when it is down in the zone. A hard worker, the 6’5’’ and 230 pound pitcher could still put a little more muscle on his frame.
Development Needs: Hagadone suffered a torn UCL tendon and underwent Tommy John Surgery in June of 2008. He suffered the injury in only his third start with the Greenville Drive, but had to wait until a leg infection cleared up to have the procedure. At 23 years old, Hagadone is a little bit behind the curve in terms of age as a result of the injury and lost some development time. His change-up is the most raw of his pitches, having been introduced to his arsenal after signing with the Red Sox. The pitch had been making some good strides, but was still relatively inconsistent prior to his injury and didn’t have great deception. His arm action would slow when delivering the pitch, but that aspect had been making improvements. A former closer in college, the Red Sox were converting Hagadone to a starting pitcher, but his role now remains to be seen after suffering his injury. Scouts were undecided on his projection as a pitcher, with many believing that he’d end up in the bullpen in the future anyway.
2009 Outlook: Hagadone will continue rehabbing his arm down in Florida after the full-season teams break camp, with mid-May targeted as his return. He’s currently about 85% with his arm and hasn’t begun reaching back on his pitches just yet. Once ready to pitch in game action, Hagadone will either report to Greenville or Salem. The Red Sox may start him off slow to get his feet wet before placing him in High-A. Expect his pitches to be a bit rusty and command to be off in the beginning while he gets the feel for his pitches back. It may not be until 2010 when a clear picture of his stuff will come back into focus, but Hagadone has been ahead of schedule in his return and is known as a very hard worker. His slider may not have as much bite as he gets the feel back for snapping it, but the pitch should return for him. Another thing to watch for is how he trusts his change-up. This was the pitch he injured his arm throwing, and he will have to gain trust in the pitch once again. The development of this pitch is key to whether Hagadone stays in the rotation or becomes a late-inning reliever.
2008 Team: Greenville Drive
2009 Projected Team: Salem Red Sox
Strengths: Mailman has a textbook swing that effortlessly flows through the hitting zone. Smooth and fluid, he generates excellent batspeed with ease. Mailman can drop the head of the bat on inside pitches and go the other way with ones on the outside corner of the plate. A very patient hitter, he works the count looking for his pitch to hit, and he has a pretty good understanding of the strike zone for a hitter his age. An excellent athlete, Mailman can play all three outfield positions, but most likely projects as a corner outfielder down the line. Mailman’s arm is strong enough to play well in right, and he can cover some ground with his above-average speed. On the bases, he’s a threat to swipe a bag and should be able to pick his spots to run on pitchers. The Red Sox felt Mailman was advanced enough to start him with Greenville last season after being drafted in 2007. After initially struggling in Greenville, Mailman made strides as he got more and more comfortable in the batter’s box and he finished the season strong.
Development Needs: Mailman could pack on some muscle to his frame and will need to increase his power if he is ultimately going to be a corner outfielder. Standing 6’2’’ and 180 pounds, he’s on the lean side, but has a frame that could add some size as he works on his strength training. A patient hitter at the plate, Mailman could stand to be a little more aggressive and attack the pitches he can drive by hitting through the ball more. 32% of his strikeouts last season came on called third strikes, which led Red Sox full-season players in 2008. Some work in this area could lead to an increase in the balls that Mailman drives into the field of play. A lot of his work at the plate will center on his continued learning of the strike zone, and on driving the ball more to all fields. Mailman struggles against left-handed pitching, only hitting .154 against southpaws last season, which will be an area in which he needs to improve. Although he is still a raw hitter, Mailman has shown why the Red Sox were high on him after selecting him in the 7th round in 2007.
2009 Outlook: Mailman should be set to start the season in the Salem Red Sox’ outfield. Looking to build off the success he had to finish 2008, Mailman should continue to be more confident in the box. One of his main development areas will be an improvement in his pitch recognition and a refined approach to what pitches he is going to be able to drive. Things may start off slow for him, but expect him to be a more aggressive hitter at this level and one who will use the whole field. He should continue to draw walks, and a good sign of positive development will be a reduction in his strikeouts. Another good sign will be an increase in the number of extra base hits he produces as he develops into more of threat to drive the ball into the gaps. Mailman’s power may be a little ways off, but hard contact into the gaps is a good sign he will be capable of producing lift on the ball once he fills out.
Written by Chris Mellen