Prospect Watch: Harrison Bader

I enjoyed talking about our catching prospect Carson Kelly, so I thought I’d look at another prospect, Harrison Bader.

Bader made it to AAA last year, where he struggled. That was only in 161 AB’s though, and he had hit in all previous levels. Plus, remember, we just drafted him in 2015, as a 3rd rounder.

The interesting thing about Mr. Bader is where he plays: the outfield. He’s gotten time in all three positions out there, in fact.

We just signed Dexter Fowler, we have a pair of corner outfielders who are young in Randal Grichuk (24) and Stephen Piscotty (25). So where does Bader fit?

The instinctive reaction would be to say 4th OF/ PH/1B (he has no training there yet, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get him some.)

Currently our extra OF are Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez.

Pham is the veteran of the bunch, as last year was his second full season with the club. He hit 9 homers in 183 PA’s, not bad. His average, however, was only .226. One thing I did like was his OBP, which sat at .334, over a hundred points higher than his BA.

Martinez is a minor league journeyman who has hit for average in the minors (he hit .384 for Omaha in 2015 in 396 PA’s.) He hasn’t shown much power, though (10 homers in 2015, and a career high 11 last year.) Unless that ability to hit for a high average translates to the bigs, he’s nothing more than a bench player.

Both are 27 or older (Pham is 28 and Martinez is 27) so they are currently at or very near their primes, so what you see is what you get.

Bader, in contrast to the gentlemen mentioned above, is only 22, and already has displayed more power potential than any of them. He had a .283/.351/.497 slash line in AA last year with 16 homers before earning a promotion to AAA.

Given his struggles in AAA last year after being promoted (he had a .231/.298/.354 slash line in 161 PA’s) I don’t expect him to make an appearance in the bigs this season, but if he rebounds and continues to develop, I can see him being a 4th OF in 2018.

The more interesting question, though, is beyond that. We appear to be set at CF and RF with Fowler and Piscotty. Grichuk struggled a bit last year, hitting only .240 with a .289 OBP. The 24 homers and .480 SLG weren’t bad, though. Grichuk is still only 25, so he hasn’t reached his prime yet. Plus, he’ll be moving over to LF with the acquisition of Fowler, a position he’s better suited for. If he rebounds, Bader may become trade bait. if he doesn’t, we may have a position battle on our hands at some point.

As always, thanks for reading.

Editor’s Note: The initial version of this post included Jeremy Hazelbaker, who was selected by the Diamondbacks on waivers this offseason.  We regret the error.

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