CLEARWATER, Fla. — Outfielder Adam Haseley, the Phillies’ first-round pick in the 2017 draft, is in big-league camp for the first time. He knows he is not a candidate to open the season in the majors, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make an impression.
He did just that in a 12-7 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
Though he had none of the Phillies’ 13 hits, Haseley still caught manager Gabe Kapler’s attention with his offense. In particular, Kapler loved how Haseley beat out a ground ball to second base (it was scored an error), stole second and came around to score on a pair of fly balls in the eighth inning.
“He generated a run almost entirely on his own,” Kapler said.
Earlier in the game, Haseley rocketed a fly ball to right-center. On a still day, it would have landed on the grassy berm beyond the wall. On a windy afternoon, it was an out.
But Kapler was still impressed.
“Oh, my gosh, that ball was blistered,” Kapler said. “That wind was knocking down balls all game. But he crushed it. We thought it was a home run off the bat. I don’t think anyone could have gotten the ball out right there.”
One of the things that jumps out to folks seeing Haseley play for the first time is the downward plane on his left-handed stroke. It is a throwback swing, starkly different from the uppercut that many hitters are being taught and employing as they look for launch angle to get the ball in the air.
“I’m certainly not trying to go opposite of how baseball is going,” Haseley said. “I just think that there are different ways that different players can get to the same result. I think for me it looks different than other players.
“I’ve always handled the ball into left-center and left field well and I think it’s just more of a handsy kind of swing. It’s what I’ve always been used to. It’s the only way I’ve ever swung.”
Haseley said he has not been pressured to add more loft to his swing, but it is something he is aware of.
“It’s something I work on,” he said. “I want to drive the ball in the air more. But for any swing, if you hit the ball out in front, you’re going to hit the ball in the air.”
Kapler likes Haseley’s swing and believes it has benefits.
“He gets a lot of back spin,” Kapler said. “You’ll see a lot of crisp ground balls. You’ll see a lot of line drives back through the middle, so much so that we’ve joked when he’s going against our pitchers in live BP we need to be careful about it because we don’t want to get one of our guys hurt.
“It’s a good swing. Look, a swing that is a little bit more level (like Haseley’s) sometimes can play well with fastballs at the top of the zone. It’s one of the things that we know pitchers are strategizing to do around the league, especially guys with a lot of life at the top of the zone. So sometimes to combat that, a little less uphill attack angle can be advantageous at those times.”
Haseley, who turns 23 in April, was picked No. 8 overall out of the University of Virginia in 2017. He hit a combined .305 with 11 homers, 55 RBIs and a .795 OPS between Single A Clearwater and Double A Reading last season. It will be interesting to see where he opens the season. He had just 136 at-bats at Double A last season, but hit .316 with an .880 OPS. Maybe the Phils will push him to Triple A at the outset of the season or maybe they’ll start him back in Double A and have him work his way there.
Haseley is ready for whatever comes his way.
“I just want to build on what I did last year and keep trying to climb the ladder,” he said.
Odubel Herrera’s hamstring injury is now classified as a Grade 1 strain. Kapler had initially hoped that Herrera would play early next week, but that probably won’t happen and there is no timetable for his return.
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