Phillies: Adam Haseley deserves serious CF consideration
So far this spring training, much has been said about the crowded competition for the starting center field position on the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies roster.
Multiple once highly regarded prospects are gunning for the position, including the likes of speedster Roman Quinn and the versatile Scott Kingery. But, it’s the player without the flash that may have the best chance to secure the role — former first-rounder Adam Haseley.
Haseley only has a small sample size in the big leagues, but if history serves as an indicator, the outfielder spot is his for the taking.
The case for Adam Haseley to be the starting Phillies center fielder.
Since Haseley doesn’t make headlines with his 4.2 speed or lively social media presence, Haseley is often the forgotten man in the shuffle. His stats in college were loud, resulting in a first-round selection and a quick route to the big-leagues. Haseley shined with a near .300 batting average across all levels of minor-league ball, and showed an increased power presence at both Double-A and Triple-A — a time when most high-level prospects begin to get humbled.
Haseley broke in to the bigs back in 2019, which seems like forever ago. He appeared in 67 games, hitting to a tune of .266 with five homers and 26 RBI from the bottom of the order — seeing the plate 222 times. Not eye-popping, but solid from a guy who spent 18 games in Triple-A. Behind the surface-level stats stands a young player with excellent potential, especially when considering the games he played in 2020.
Adam Haseley made strides this past season amid the pandemic.
Haseley reflected an old-school player this past season, hitting more line drives than fly balls in 2019. When he did hit the ball in the air, it went out of the ballpark 1 out of every 7 times. He made contact with 86 percent of the pitches considered to be in the strike zone — showing his supreme plate discipline skills. The power numbers are misleading, and although we love to see the new Statcast hard hit percentages and exit velocities, Haseley’s statistical profile more resembles the likes of David Fletcher of the Los Angeles Angels and Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals. And while it may take Haseley a season to reach that level, 2020 was full of positive strides.
Haseley improved his contact percentage to 95 percent on balls in the strike zone. It doesn’t mean everything is a hit, but it means he knows the zone to a “tee.” He cut down on strikeouts and increased his walk percentage. And, lest we forget, Haseley plays an excellent outfield — although he may be more suited for a corner position down the line.
The question will always be whether Haseley’s power stroke will ever come around. But, do the Phillies really need it too? Alec Bohm looks like a 30+ homer player, and Haseley plays on the same team with Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, and Rhys Hoskins.
While fans still hope for Quinn to stay on the field and for Kingery to turn things around, Haseley represents a well-tooled player with solid upside. If the 2008 team serves as a representation of future success, you do need the starts, but you also need the role player that silently helps move the team along — when consistency creates the remedy. Just some food for thought.