Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 21, Jake Hager
Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The sixth player to be examined in detail rehabbed for the majority of 2015….
#21: Jake Hager, SS, 22 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 210 lbs
- Drafted: in the 1st round (32nd overall) of the 2011 draft
- Signed: for $963,000 ($9,000 over slot value) June 23d, 2011
- 2015 Affiliate: DNP due to injury
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2017+
- Twitter: @JakeHager1
Hager’s Fielding Stats
Hager’s 2014 Splits
- Ranked 12th best Rays Prospect in BA’s Prospect Handbook in 2012
- Best wRC+ was 114 in 2012, managed a 93 wRC+ in 2014 in AA along with a .105 ISO
- High strikeout rate was 18.6% while in AA
- Made the 2013 FSL Mid-Season All-Star team
- Kicked off his AA career with a .293/.358/.421 line through 38 GP before tailing off
- Didn’t make Minor League Ball’s Top 20 Rays Prospects list in 2015
- Was pushed through the minors by the Rays and was 3.5 years younger than the average age when he played in AA before his surgery
- Had knee surgery after an initial procedure didn’t resolve the issue he was having. He stated the following about the surgery:“I had a procedure in the offseason to clean it up, but I was still having problems with it,” “I played in a game a couple of weeks ago, and it just didn’t feel right. I want to get it fixed.”
Jake’s working out at @ExtraInningsLV this offseason. When we asked him how his knee was feeling this offseason, Jake replied:
In all honesty, it’s not as if he was going to tell us his knee felt horrible or was sore, but it’s still comforting to know he hasn’t had any setbacks!
Best Tools & Abilities
- Fielding (Good for SS/3B)
- Quick hands and quiet bat before pitch thrown
- Hit: 30/45+ Game Power: 20/40 Raw Power: 45/45 Speed: 50/50 Field: 50/55 FV: 40
Jake Hager should have been knocking on the door to the majors alongside Daniel Robertson this season. Instead, all of the focus will be on getting him the experience he missed in 2015. With the speed at which he was tearing through the minors though, it won’t slow him too badly. So long as he stays healthy next season we should be hearing his name more often as it wears on.
Aug 20, 2013; Ft Myers, FL, USA; Charlotte Stone Crabs shortstop Jake Hager (2) tags out Fort Myers Miracle center fielderByron Buxton
(7) as he attempted to steal at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Hager’s quick and accurate swing allows him to fight off pitches effectively, which is likely a good part of the reason for his low strikeout rates. He has enough power to envision 10-20 HR potential in the majors, and had enough speed before the injured knee to chip in with a dozen or so steals.
However, Hager’s value lays more in his ability to wear pitchers down at the plate and he should have a higher OBP than he’s managed so far when his experience level matches his playing level. He’s willing to take a walk, and although he may never hit 25 HR in the majors, you can envision him becoming a doubles machine. There’s a lot of value in a player that fields the left side of the infield in a solid manner and can add a decent amount of power and speed. Mix in his grinder mentality, and you’ve got something special in Hager.
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How well Hager heals and how quickly he can jump back into the fray will determine whether he can find a spot with the Rays. There’s some high-end competition to go up against at this point, with two of our top four prospects being middle-infielders who should both be cemented in Tampa by the time 2017 ends.
With that in mind, Hager may want to spread out his positional experience in order to increase the chances he can provide the Rays with positional flexibility. When we look through the minors system, aside from Richie Shaffer the depth at 3B is fairly thin.
Although Hager’s bat may not be as powerful as a typical 3B’s is, if he improves it enough to hit 15+ HRs it may be enough to earn him a backup role to Evan Longoria. Added with his abilities at SS and a likely ability to adapt to 2B or LF, it may be the best way for him to earn some playing time in Tampa.
Some things he’ll need to work on as he returns to game form include his performance vs LHP, using his speed on the bases more effectively, and hitting with RISP. He would also need to work on minimizes errors, as most young players do.
There’s something about Hager that screams “I’m not done yet as a prospect”. He accomplished so much so quickly before the surgery that you can’t help but feel he’ll get every opportunity to prove himself. How well it goes remains to be seen, but as with most grinder type baseball players, we know he’ll do whatever is in his power to make an impact and get his name back into contention in 2016.
He may not have played in 2015, but he’s a prospect you should not forget to keep an eye on in 2016. Hager still has a lot of work to do and some things to prove to himself, and to all who cheer for him. We certainly do and wish him nothing but productive and healthy seasons from here on out.
This is why we want to keep Jake Hager close to the top of our rankings despite his losing an entire season to injury: