Previewing The Mets New Minor League Relievers: Eric Hanhold | Astromets Mind

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Previewing The Mets New Minor League Relievers: Eric Hanhold

Continued from here

Unless otherwise noted, the “stuff” information gathered comes from listening to the broadcasters as I dug up old highlights.

The player to be named later (PTBNL) from the Neil Walker trade

RHP Eric Hanhold, 23 until 11/1

2017 with the Carolina Mudcats: 64 IP, 71 H, 33 R (28 ER), 9 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 97 TB, 21 BB, 60 K (52 K/Sw), 5 HBP, 10 GIDP, 109 GB: 24 FB: 41 LD: 10 PU, 954 Pitches (598 Strikes), 135 Swinging, 119 Called, 14.2% SwStr, 28.2% Whiff/Swing, 14.9 Pitches/IP, 276 BF
3.94 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 21.7 K%: 7.6 BB%, 59.2 GB%: 13 FB%: 22.3 LD%: 5.4 PU%, .364 BABIP, .386/.354/.391 (.745 OPS) allowed, Runners went 2-5 on stolen base attempts + BB-Ref has him with 2 pickoffs (See the GIF section for three pickoffs)

The path to the Mets: Eric Hanhold has been on scout’s radars since (at least) 2011, when he was started to stand out on the mound for the East Lake High School baseball team in Florida. He was named to the Rawlings/Perfect Game Florida Region Second team prior to his senior season, and then dominated (1.14 ERA) as he led East Lake to the Class 8A District Championship in 2012. Hanhold’s strong season earned him a chance to pitch at Tropicana Field that summer, in a Tampa Bay HS All-Star Classic.
He committed to the University of Florida, and he made clear his intention to get the college experience while pitching for one of the biggest college baseball programs in the country, so he wasn’t high on draft boards coming out of high school. Still, the Phillies thought enough of him to take him… with their last pick, which was the last pick of the 2012 draft.
Hanhold’s stats didn’t exactly stand out over 53 appearances – 15 starts – in 3 seasons with the Gators, but his stuff still got the attention of scouts. He also garnered attention while pitching in the Northwoods League during the summer of 2013 (ranked #2 in the league by BA) and then in the Cape Cod league during the summer of 2014 (ranked #15 by BA).
The Milwaukee Brewers saw enough potential in Hanhold to select him as a junior in the 6th round of the 2015 draft, which was a big improvement from his previous draft spot. Given his light workload as a senior (25.1 IP), the Brewers had no problem letting him make 11 appearances (8 starts, 36.1 IP) that year, most of which came in A-ball. Despite his struggles in 2015 (combined 7.43 ERA, 51 H allowed), the Brewers sent him to the FSL in 2016, where he struggled some more over 19 starts (4.81 ERA, 120 H allowed in 101 IP).
Hanhold was sent back to Advanced-A ball this year, although this time he was pitching for the Carolina Mudcats of the Carolina league because of an offseason affiliation change for the Brewers. He started 2017 alternating piggyback starts with other Mudcats pitchers for 6 outings before hitting the DL in early May. He spent 11 days on the DL and was then exclusively used as a reliever after that, although he was still more of a long man working with regular rest initially.
When he hit the DL, Hanhold had a 9.14 ERA over 21.2 IP, with 37 H allowed for a .974 OPS. He was used across multiple innings in 10 of his first 11 appearances coming off the DL and he dominated: 1.52 ERA over 23.2 IP, 22 H allowed for a .658 OPS, and 26 K: 6 BB (98 BF). His usage by the Mudcats changed a little starting in mid-July, as 7 of his final 15 appearances lasted just 1 inning, and he was given less rest between appearances, although he still dominated: 0.96 ERA over his final 18.2 IP, 12 H allowed for a .528 OPS, and 16 K: 7 BB (73 BF). The usage change is especially notable after 8/12, when the Mets officially traded Neil Walker for a PTBNL, as his final four appearances lasted just one inning.
As for the rest aspect, Hanhold never pitched on fewer than 2 days rest until the end of July, then he pitched with just one day’s rest twice over the final five weeks (7/25 & 7/27, then 8/24 & 8/26), and he also pitched with zero day’s rest at the end of the season (8/30-31). Put another way, Hanhold averaged 5.25 appearances/month over the first four months and then made 6 appearances over 20 days after the trade.
Maybe that was the Brewers plan all along, or maybe the Mets wanted to see how well he bounced back on short rest before they chose him as the PTBNL.

The stuff: If you know anything about the other 6 relievers the Mets acquired at the deadline, you could have probably guessed that Eric Hanhold is a righty who sits mid-90’s and throws a slider. He also mixes in a changeup, which shows potential as a usable pitch, but it lags behind the other two right now, and he appeared to throw it less from the pen.
            Since Hanhold was traded at the end of the MiLB season, I have had more time to go back and compare pre-DL/piggyback starter Eric Hanhold with post-DL/reliever Eric Hanhold. The most noticeable change was in his fastball, as he threw it more often and threw it harder after his DL stint. I never heard a reason for the DL stint, but it seems like they skipped over him once to make a few adjustments in approach and (probably) pitch mechanics. Per the post-trade Baseball America report, he’s throwing his slider 87-88 MPH, so it’s likely that got a post-DL velocity boost too.
As usual, I don’t have constant velocity information from watching on, but the Mudcats announcer Gregory Young Jr. would call out fastball velocities or say low/mid/upper 90’s occasionally. He called Hanhold up to 96/97 a few times as a starter, but it sounded like he was more low-90’s (89-93 MPH) pre-DL. Young was initially surprised when Hanhold was sitting more mid/upper 90’s after his DL stint, but that became the norm. Young had Hanhold hitting the upper 90’s with some regularity down the stretch, and said the stadium gun even had him up to 102 MPH once, although Young didn’t believe that to be accurate.
            It’s not just the velocity on Hanhold’s fastball that makes it impressive, but the good sinking action, which produces a lot of groundballs. He posted a groundball-rate near 60% for the season and a fly ball-rate under 15%. He also throws it hard enough that he can go up in the zone to blow it by hitters, and the pitch will show arm-side run at times. Check out the pitch that was questionably on the board at 102 MPH – it shows that good late life.

            Hanhold’s slider showed improvement throughout the season too, and it flashes the potential to be a plus pitch. Early on in the season, he was using the pitch in any count, but he wasn’t controlling it well, and it could get a bit slurvy. After the DL stint, the slurve showed up less often and the pitch had a tighter break, sometimes even a nice two-plane break. It didn’t always have the plus movement, but it was at minimum a weapon against righties.

The secondaries: The Mets paid a little extra to acquire Hanhold, which is something they didn’t do in the other midseason trades, and that could pay off nicely down the line. Had Hanhold been drafted directly into the Mets system, he would’ve been on a slower path, and he likely would’ve spent this season as a starter in the St. Lucie rotation. Given the injuries to pitchers throughout the system, the Mets may even want him to make some starts next year. But unless the extra heat returns with him to the rotation, his future role is as a reliever.
That said, his heater and his ability to miss bats, get groundballs, and avoid walks suggests his upside is as a high-leverage reliever for the New York Mets. Among Carolina League pitchers who threw at least 60 IP this year, Hanhold’s swinging strike rate was top-15, his groundball rate led the pack, and across 3 years he’s walked just 7% of 882 batters faced (62 BB).  
I expect him to start the 2018 season with Binghamton as a reliever, but I wouldn’t be surprised if circumstances force him to make some spot starts. If the Mets commit to him as a reliever-only, I think he could reach Triple-A in 2018, although it should be tough to crack the 51s bullpen next year.
As a 2015 draft pick, Hanhold won’t need 40-man protection until after next season.
I noticed the song “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles was often playing on as Hanhold finished warming up at home. I love The Beatles, but that seems like an odd choice for warmup music, so maybe he didn’t have a say. Or maybe he just enjoys thinking about all of the lonely base runners he’s stranded, and all the lonely base runners yet to be stranded.

Mets-Florida Gators connection: Eric Hanhold played with several current Mets prospects while on the Florida Gators: Johnny Magliozzi in 2013, Peter Alonso in 2014-15, and Jeremy Vasquez in 2015. O, and the Mets signed this Tim Tebull, I mean Tim Tebow guy last year, and you may have heard of his Gator roots. We’ll see how it works out, but Hanhold could be reunited with Magliozzi and Alonso, AND joined by Tebow in Binghamton next year. Rumble Gators nation!

The GIFs:

I initially just covered the end of Hanhold’s season, so there’s a lot of coverage of his final 8 appearances (on and I only added a few highlights as I went back to watch earlier appearances from this season. The strikeout GIF’s and most of the GIF’s starting on 7/27 are full AB’s, but there are also a lot of partial AB’s and a few GIF’s with just a swinging strike from the AB.

With Mudcats
-       Steve Wilkerson struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Wilkerson reached on a throwing error (E6/G)

-       Randolph Gassaway hit a groundout to SS (63/G)

-       Alex Murphy struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Drew Turbin struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Austin Hays tripled to RF (T9/L)

Can see the stadium gun says 91 MPH

-       Sicnarf Loopstok struck out swinging (K/Sw)

Called at 89/90 MPH in this AB

-       Martin Cervenka struck out swinging (K/Sw)

Up to 93 MPH in this AB (third pitch)

-       Trenton Brooks struck out swinging (K/Sw)

Up to 93 MPH in this AB (second pitch)

-       Jodd Carter struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Andrew Calica struck out looking (K/Lo)

-       Eduard Pinto struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Josh Morgan struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Josh Altmann struck out looking (K/Lo)

-       Morgan doubled to LF (D7/L)

-       Chuck Moorman hit a comebacker (13/G)

-       Michael O’Neill hit a check-swing RBI single to RF (S9/G)

97 MPH

-       Arturo Lara hit a groundout to first (3u/G)

-       Moorman struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Ryan Mountcastle singles on a line drive to RF (S9/L)

-       Josh Hart struck out looking (K/Lo)

-       Steve Wilkerson lined a single into CF (S8/L)

-       Austin Hays walked (BB)

-       Eduard Pinto struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       LeDarious Clark hit a comeback fielded by Hanhold (13/G)

-       Luis La O walked (BB)

-       Brady Conlan struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Trey Michalczewski struck out on a foul bunt (K)

-       Tyler Alamo struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Adonis Paula struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Andruw Monaserio lined out to CF (8/L)

-       Eddy Martinez hit a groundout to SS (63/G)

98 MPH

-       Bryant Flete lined an RBI single into CF (S8/L)

-       Eddy Martinez struck out looking (K/Lo)

-       Zack Collins struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Louis Silverio struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       P.J. Higgins popped out to SS (6/P)

97 MPH

-       Eddy Martinez hit a groundout to third (53/G)

97 MPH

-       Jesse Hodges struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Tyler Alamo hit a groundout to third (53/G)

-       Trent Giambrone lined out to CF (8/L)

-       Victor Robles struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Anibal Sierra singled to CF (S8/L)

-       Stephen Wrenn struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Roberto Caro hit a comebacker (13/G)

-       Zack hit reached on a run-scoring infield single/E6 (S6/G) -> E6

-       Trent Giambrone struck out swinging (K/Sw)

First pitch at 95 MPH

-       D.J. Burt struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Nick Heath walked (BB)

-       Brandon Downes flied out to CF (8/F)

-       Chris DeVito hit a groundout to third base (53/G)

-       Sicnarf Loopstok struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Connor Marabell struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Martin Cervenka walked (BB)

-       Jodd Carter hit a double play grounder to third (543/G)

-       Claudio Bautista flied out to CF (8/F)

-       Drew Turbin hit a comebacker (31/G)

-       Jay Gonzaled walked (BB)

-       Ademar Rifaela hit a groundout to second (43/G)

-       Glynn Davis struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Yermin Mercedes hit a ground-rule double to LF (D7/F)

-       Randolph Gassaway hit a groundout to second (43/G)

-       Armando Araiza lined out to third (5/L)

-       Jomar Reyes lined out to second (4/L)

-       Joel Booker hit a force out to SS (64/G)

-       Toby Thomas hit a groundout to third (53/G)

-       Seby Zavala struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Matt Rose struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Zack Short hit a groundout to SS (63/G)

-       P.J. Higgins hit a groundout to second (43/G)

-       Vimael Machin flied out to LF (7/F)

-       Daneil Gonzalez hit a groundout to third (53/G)

-       Sam Dexter popped out to the catcher in foul territory (2/P)

-       Bryant Flete walked (BB)

-       Jameson Fisher lined out to LF (7/F)

-       Toby Thomas struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Sam Dexter struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       Bryant Flete reached on an E3 (E3/G)

-       Jameson Fisher reached on a bunt single (S5/G)

-       Seby Zavala struck out swinging (K/Sw)

-       P.J. Higgins struck out looking (K/Lo)

-       Vimael Machin lined a single into LF (S7/L)

-       Tyler Alamo hit a double play grounder to third (53/G)


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