Arizona Diamondbacks rookie outfielder Mitch Haniger is learning and developing at the big-league level
At triple-A Reno, outfielder Mitch Haniger of the Arizona Diamondbacks experienced a career defining year.
Not many decision-makers in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, other than Kyle Jensen, seem to deserve a call-up to the show more than Haniger.
For all the right reasons, the 25-year-old was promoted to the majors on August 16, and off to an impressive start.
With his parents in attendance on August 17, Haniger, a native of Santa Clara Calif. became the first player in franchise history to record a triple for his first career hit. Haniger later added a double, and his three RBI tied the franchise mark for a debut. In the process, he became the eight player since 1913 to record a double and triple in his Major League debut.
On his way to being named the Diamondbacks’ organizational minor-league player of the year, Haniger clubbed 20 home runs for the Reno Aces, batted .341 and drove in 64 runs.
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In 129 games between Triple-A and Double-A Mobile, Haniger knocked 25 baseballs out of the park, and batted .321 with 94 RBIs. He ranked among minor-league leaders in extra-base hits (60) and OPS (1.011).
Last Monday night, Haniger crushed his first major-league bomb off Rockies reliever Jake McGee and provided further evidence of his value.
Yet, through his first 14 games prior to Monday at the big-league level, Haniger was hitting just .191 with little power.
Struggling Through Adversity
Even with the milestone of his first major league bomb, Haniger was struggling to catch up to the quality fo major league pitching. Coming into Thursday’s game with the Dodgers, he was hitting .232 with an OPS of .670/
As is the case with any young hitter, Haniger is in a learning stage. It often looks like Haniger is going for the fences 100 percent of the time. His 16 strikeouts in first 56 at-bats at the major league level tends to indicate the validity of that observation.\
At thsi point, Haniger recognizes the importance of this promotion., and is working to make adjustments.
“I’ve been swinging and missing a little bit,” Haniger said. “I think I’ve been trying to swing a little too hard.
Haniger said he is trying to keep it simple at the plate, and take a swing smooth through the zone.
Brandon Drury can relate to what Haniger. When Drury came up to the big leagues, he was considered a strict fast-ball hitter.
Learn and Make Adjustments
With a scouting report in place, opposing pitchers started to work Drury away. For a while, Drury had difficulty to make adjustments. During Drury’s recent hot streak, he has consistently drove fastballs away to right-field.
Like Drury, Haniger seems to handle pitches on the inside part of the plate, but struggles with pitches away.
Still, manager Chip Hale likes his future.
“I like his game,” the manager said. “He needs to learn how to make adjustments. I would like to see if he is an impact guy. He has an opportunity now, and we’ll see what he does with it.”
On Thursday night, Haniger knocked his second career home run, a three-run shot, out to the bleachers in left. That came on an inside breaking pitch that didn’t take the break from Dodgers reliever Louis Coleman. The blast was a key hi tin the Diamondbacks’ eventual 7-3 win over the Dodgers in Chase Field.
Around the Foghorn
Next Spring at Salt River, expect to see Haniger get an opportunity to compete for a starting outfield spot.