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Then & Now: Trey Haley

Then & Now: Trey Haley
December 8, 2012
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Then & Now is a weekly feature at Indians Prospect Insider during the offseason that takes a look at a prospect’s past and present while also offering a possible glimpse into the prospect’s future.

Arms capable of throwing 100 mph certainly do not grow on trees. That’s part of the reason why Trey Haley is such an intriguing Cleveland Indians prospect.

It’s been an up-and-down road throughout the minors for Haley. As a second round choice in the 2008 Draft, expectations were immediately high for Haley, who was selected out of Central Heights High School in Texas.

Since joining the Indians, Haley has been used as both a starter and reliever before settling in as the latter. Today, Haley’s upside remains very high, which has been the case since day one.

The right-hander just completed his fifth season in the Indians system, and there are many in the organization who believe he has the best arm in the entire system. While Haley has certainly had his ups and down since joining the team, everything has really been looking up for the young right-hander as of late.

Then:

To say Haley’s professional baseball career got off to a rocky start may be somewhat of an understatement. After joining the Indians in 2008, Haley made one appearance with the Gulf Coast Indians before making two appearances with Single-A Mahoning Valley. The results were not pretty.

In those two contests, Haley pitched a combined total of just 1 1/3 innings and gave up four hits, eight earned runs and walked six batters. That type of performance is worse than just not pretty — it’s downright repulsive.

Nonetheless, there was a lot of intrigue surrounding Haley’s full-season debut in 2009. That’s what triple digits will do for a player. However, the results were less than desirable. In 19 games and 16 starts at Single-A Lake County, Haley posted a 5.56 ERA. The most concerning part of his performance that year was his walk (7.5 BB/9) and strikeout (6.6 K/9) rates.

Because of his plus-plus fastball, most expected Haley to just mow through hitters and rack up strikeouts. While his strikeout rate was not terrible, it was not in line with expectations, and this point was magnified by the fact that Haley walked almost one more batter per nine innings than he was striking out.

In 2010, Haley spent his second straight season in the Lake County rotation and while there was some improvement in the walk and strikeout area (6.7 BB/9, 7.5 K/9), the numbers were still very disappointing. His ERA of 5.97 that season also actually took a step back from the previous season.

Because of his plus fastball, plus curveball and measurables, many had hoped that Haley might develop into a front-of-the-rotation starter, but his progress to this point suggested that a move to the bullpen may be the better route, at least for the time being.

Thus, that is exactly what the Indians decided to do. The next season, Haley made his debut as a reliever. The results were impressive. In 44 1/3 innings between the AZL Indians, Lake County and High-A Kinston, Haley posted a 3.25 ERA. Better yet, his walk rate (5.1 BB/9) decreased significantly, and his strikeout rate (9.7) increased. Obviously, it was evident that there still was some work to be done in regard to the walks, but the move to the bullpen seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Since that season, Haley has remained in the bullpen, and the results have been even more impressive.

Now:

Haley’s 2012 season was easily the best of his minor league career. Overall, the right-hander pitched 38 2/3 innings between Arizona, Lake County and Double-A Akron. He struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings, which was a career-high, and he also walked 4.4 batters per nine innings, which was a career-low.

Given the lower rate of free passes allowed, one might believe that Haley finally solved his walk woes, but it’s unfortunately not that simple. Haley ended the 2012 season as a member of Akron’s bullpen, and his walk rate really spiked during that span. In his 15 1/3 innings pitched at Akron, Haley walked 6.5 batters per nine innings. It’s a small sample size, but it is still a large enough sample size to warrant some concern, especially since Haley is now being looked at as a reliever.

The remarkable thing is that despite the enormous walk rate, Haley still posted a 1.76 ERA in those 15 1/3 innings pitched. Essentially, his time at Akron illustrates both the positives and negatives that are still attached to Haley. As evidenced by the low ERA and the fact that he struck out 13.5 batters per nine innings for the Aeros, Haley can be a dominating arm. However, the walks also show how he can be frustrating at times when he is unable to command the zone.

Unfortunately, the walk rate may be a necessary evil. Haley throws 100 mph, possesses a plus-plus fastball and a plus curveball. The Indians could not possibly believe that they could have their cake and eat it too, right?

Future:

Plain and simple, Haley’s future is bright. Very bright.

He will likely spend a majority of the 2013 season at Triple-A Columbus and could be one of the first relievers promoted to Cleveland should a need arise. However, some Tribe fans still hold out that Haley may be destined for another role in Cleveland.

To start or relieve? That remains the question among Tribe fans. Because of his skill set and peripherals, it is easy to see why many are clamoring for Haley to return to the rotation.

But the evidence seems to suggest that Haley is best suited for a bullpen role. While Haley will probably continue to improve on his walk rate, it will likely be an area that he is never able to perfect. In short spurts, his fastball and ability to rack up strikeouts may make the walks at least passable, but it would be hard to believe that Haley could ever have any consistent success if he were walking six batters per nine innings as a starter.

Starter? Reliever? Haley may be destined for success regardless of what role he pitches in. One thing’s for sure: Haley arguably has the best arm in the entire system, and he definitely possesses the best fastball in the system.

It took awhile for the former prized high school pitcher and his 100-mph arm to make it to the upper levels of the minors, but he seems to have finally arrived. The walks may be the only thing between Haley and the Major Leagues, but with a 100-mph fastball, it’s hard to believe even walks can keep him from the big leagues.

Previous Then & Now profiles:

Steve can be reached via email at orbaneks@gmail.com.

User Comments

Tony
December 9, 2012 - 12:37 AM EST
Yeah, I like Anderson and Radeke too, but for different reasons. I think Anderson has the potential to be an innings eating middle of the rotation starter, or a good pen arm. Radeke is still maybe an organizational guy along the lines of Espino, but if he keeps doing what he is doing them perhaps he can be another Tomlin. And Shy, I dunno where all that came from. Sturdevant was shut down in March because of a shoulder strain (bursitis) and did not get back out there until June/July.
Shy
December 8, 2012 - 10:32 PM EST
What the heck ever happened to Tyler Sturdevant? I remember him blowing people down in Spring Training then going missing. Non-specific shoulder issues. Was he a juicer like Bryce Stowell or what? Whatever, I'm sick of that crap. A pitcher should never do juice. Unlike position players, all the increased torque ends up in some part of your arm. Can't be good for you long term. I blame Antonetti and the scouts he hires for not being able to tell guys like Jensen Lewis, Jeremy Sowers, Drew Pomeranz all on juice. Year after year you blow high picks on them and they turn to crap.
MT88 in WI
December 8, 2012 - 10:29 PM EST
Doubt that Kluber gets dealt since he just had surgery (injured at home with his kid).

Kinda like the idea of adding a Wolters/ RRod to the package to sweeten it & get both pitchers from AZ. My guess is AZ is holding out for D Paulino if they take a developing player. Perhaps Tribe needs to include a pitcher ZMac or Jeanmar along with Wolters/ RRod to get both the kids.

Wonder if Grenke going to LAD will prompt AZ to get this deal done.
Homer
December 8, 2012 - 7:33 PM EST
I really like Cody Anderson I think he could develop into a 2/3 starter. Mason Radeke seems more like a BOR / bullpen arm.
Andy
December 8, 2012 - 7:08 PM EST
My money is on Cody Anderson and Mason Radeke to make some noise in 2013 as legit starting pitching prospects. They're entering their age-22 and age-23 seasons after both throwing approx 100 innings at Low-A with good fastball command - Anderson had 2.7 BB/9 IP and Radeke had 2.0 BB/9 IP.
Kyle
December 8, 2012 - 5:39 PM EST
Shy, I keep checking my phone every 5 minutes to see whats going on with the Bauer deal. If they get Skaggs too I might die from excitement. I love Cabrera but I can't wait for this deal to be done. I wonder who else they are willing to trade? If it involves multiple teams and we are getting more than one player, we have to be giving up more also. Would they throw in another SS with longer contractual control to sweeten the deal (Ronny Rodriguez, Tony Wolters) or another pitcher for their 5th spot (Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber)? I'm praying Lindor is untouchable.

They could test Haley out as a reliver to get him some experience then let him join the rotation the next year after he is stretched out. Worth a shot. Would be great if he could control his walks. It's highly doubtful but it would be interesting to see Bauer, Skaggs, and Haley as the top 3 arms in the rotation. I think I just peed a little.
Shy
December 8, 2012 - 4:36 PM EST
In the opinion of most pitching coaches I know, you don't make a top line reliever out of a guy who averages 5BB/9. Walks tend to hurt you more in the late innings with the score close and the game on the line, let alone coming in with traffic already on the bases. Sound to me like the kid needs some good mentoring. While we're on the subject of pitching, I cannot overexpress the need for Antonetti to get the Bauer deal done. Not only does this kid have swing and miss stuff, he will give Indians fans the excitement they have not had in 5 years and generate interest in the Indians from the media and baseball fans everywhere. The work ethic, the personality, the force of nature delivery are all attributes you see maybe once in a decade- he will put fans in the seats. I I think he can generate as much interest as Strasburg when he debuted, maybe more depending on results. The D'backs signed Brandon McCarthy yesterday. That means they now have 4 starters ahead of Bauer and Skaggs. All they need to compete w the Giants, IMO, is Asdrubal Cabrera. I am expecting a deal to go down next week, You get this kid and Swisher, you may have something. Swisher by himself, no, lotta money going out and not going to change anything.
Roger
December 8, 2012 - 2:09 PM EST
lets hope that the heater moves too and has late action. Matt anderson could throw a ball thru the trunk of an oak tree but it was straight and 104 mph heater went out to the outfield and over the fences at 150 mph sometimes heat isnt accurate measurement. I sure hope somewhere in the indians system there is a starting pitcher who can do a cody allen and rise like a phoenix. and i admit i am one who wishes haley had the stuff to start.

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