Jeremy Hazelbaker Scouting Report (2010)
Boston Red Sox prospect Jeremy Hazelbaker has piqued the interest of BoSox prospect following a 10/60 season for the Greenville Drive. Having recently celebrated his 23rd birthday, Hazelbaker is a bit ripe for the South Atlantic League, but supporters will point to his being a 4th rounder in 2009 as a reason to cut him some slack. Add to this a second half in which he raked to a .292/.373/.504 line with 31 steals in 39 attempts and it’s no wonder why questions about Hazelbaker’s prospect status began hitting my inbox.
Physical Projection: Long and lean, Hazelbaker is not a prospect who projects to add significant growth going forward. In uniform, his lack of size through the shoulders, legs, and hips would leave a casual fan with the impression Hazelbaker is 19, not 23. However, he does have more explosion than his appearance would lead one to believe which explains his double-digit home run season (explosive wrists) and high stolen base totals (strong first step)
Offense: With an upright stance, Hazelbaker has some wiggle pre-pitch which gives way to a calm load before he swings. Rarely cheated, Hazelbaker unleashes a somewhat controlled, but aggressive hack showing wrist snap and a swing plane which allows him to generate some lift. However, with that aggression comes a tendency to pull his head off the ball which has contributed to his high strikeout totals. Add to this iffy breaking ball recognition and he may be forced to sacrifice some of his present power for contact at higher levels. If Hazelbaker was younger, these deficiencies would be of little concern. Having just completed his age-22 season, his pitch recognition issues are a major red flag considering the majority of South Atlantic League hurlers struggle to throw even fringe breaking pitches. If he can’t pick them and rip them here, what happens when he faces somebody in AA who can really spin a breaking ball?
Defense: In seeing Hazelbaker on three separate occasions, nothing he did in the outfield really stood out. While not a ringing endorsement, the fact he more-or-less blended in on defense speaks to his being an average all-around outfielder. Under normal circumstances, only the exceptional or horrendous will really draw attention. In speaking to a couple of scouts who read my initial blurbs on him after scouting Hazelbaker themselves, one agreed with my initial assessment, while another felt his route running was below average and would limit him to an outfield corner. If this is the case, it’s a major ding to his prospect value as he just does not profile particularly well in a corner long term.
Speed: Hazelbaker combines very good baserunning instincts with a strong first step and excellent speed which comes from being a long-strider. He should continue to steal bases as he moves up the ladder, although those totals may be limited by his strikeout totals and a lower on base percentage as he is promoted to leagues where pitchers show increased command.
While I’m more bullish on Hazelbaker than most older prospects I have the opportunity to scout, he’s certainly not a player without flaws which may wind up being fatal as he continues to progress. For whatever reason, the Boston Red Sox have become known for stacking the system with outfielders like Hazelbaker who have a solid all-around skill set, but simply lack the oomph of somebody a scout would tag as “a guy”. Going forward, it will be important for Hazelbaker to lower his strikeout totals through improved breaking ball recognition or his prospect status may be DOA by the time he hits double-A. Should he display the ability to play centerfield some, Hazelbaker could settle in as a fourth or fifth outfielder with a big league team due to his speed, left-handed bat, and flexibility on defense.
23 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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