Phillies see untapped potential in Adam Haseley, no longer a two-way player

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Adam Haseley, the Phillies’ first-round draft selection, was introduced Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Paul Murphy, in his job as area scout for a territory that covers everything from New Jersey to Virginia, saw Adam Haseley more than anyone else in the Phillies organization. “Probably 35 to 40 times,” Murphy said, but the longtime scout began to look at Haseley in a different way last summer. That is when Haseley, for the first time, did not train in the college offseason to be both a hitter and a pitcher.

Haseley, as a pitcher, would have been selected in the first 10 rounds, Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said. He was the Sunday starter for the University of Virginia. He was one of their most consistent hitters, too, and that was always his path to a potential big-league career.

As Haseley’s power numbers increased without a drop in his plate discipline, Murphy was sold.

“For a college junior, he has a chance to get a lot bigger and stronger,” Murphy said. “He has a chance to keep improving. Sometimes you’ll take an older college player and that’s what he is. He’s not going to get any better. With the pitching, and the fact that he’s got room to add weight and still mature, he has a chance to be a better player than he is today. And he’s a pretty good player today.”

The Phillies, according to a source, paid Haseley a $5.1 million bonus — a figure slightly above the league’s suggested slot for the No. 8 pick. They handed Haseley a No. 7 jersey in red pinstripes on Wednesday, let him have a locker and take batting practice at Citizens Bank Park for one afternoon, and handed him a plane ticket to Florida to start his professional career.

By the end of the month, Haseley will be in the lineup at Williamsport, a short-season, rookie-ball team. He could begin 2018 at high-A Clearwater, if everything breaks right.

“It’s been moving pretty fast and I’m trying to enjoy it the best I can,” said Haseley, 21. “The last couple of days have been fantastic and I really enjoyed being on the field today. I met a lot of the guys and it was fun to experience it.”

Haseley was the pick at No. 8 because he checked all of the boxes prioritized by the Phillies. He satisfied the analytics bloc because walked more than he struck out in his three years at Virginia. He enticed the scouts because, with a focus narrowed to hitting and a professional strength program, he had some untapped potential.

He attracted most in the Phillies organization because they viewed him as a low-risk wager who could reach the majors around the time the team expects to be competitive, sometime in 2019 or 2020. He had, in scout speak, one of the higher floors in a first round that was perceived as weaker than normal.

There are advantages to no longer being a two-way player.

“It will be different,” Haseley said. “Just from a health perspective, it will be a lot easier to recover, especially days after pitching. I’m usually pretty sore the day after. From a strength perspective, I’ll be able to do different lifts that will help my overall strength.”

Murphy compared Haseley to Nick Markakis, a college player who went seventh overall in the 2003 draft. Markakis played 279 games in the minors and reached the majors at the start of the 2006 season. He has been a productive corner outfielder for more than a decade.

Haseley’s slugging percentage increased by 157 points from his sophomore to junior season. Murphy, last summer, saw Haseley hit a ball more than 440 feet to dead center at a field next to an elementary school in Orleans, Mass. The wood-bat Cape Cod League tends to separate the best college hitters.

“It was an eye-opener,” Murphy said. “When people do something on a baseball field that you haven’t seen as a scout, you certainly wake up and pay attention. That really was the night I probably started considering him more seriously.”