Hey, you may have heard: the Orioles have the best farm system in baseball. And there’s no shortage of much-hyped prospects, from Gunnar Henderson to Colton Cowser to Connor Norby to Jordan Westburg. But let’s give a shout-out to some of the more under-the-radar guys, who just keep doing their thing while the big names are getting most of the attention. Meet Hudson Haskin.
In some seasons in the not-too-distant past, Haskin may well have ranked as one of the Orioles’ top 5 prospects. (Consider that in 2016, the Orioles’ top position-player prospect was Jomar Reyes. I mean, that’s not a high bar to clear.) The fact that Haskin, currently ranked 21st by MLB Pipeline, finds himself overshadowed by more high-profile talents is more a testament to the Orioles’ prospect depth than a slight on Haskin.
He’s certainly got the pedigree. Haskin was the Orioles’ second round pick in 2020 (#39 overall) following a sterling two-year career at Tulane, in which he slashed .372/.459/.647 as a freshman in 2019 before a scorching hot but COVID-shortened 2020 season. Before Tulane, Haskin was a standout at Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, where he broke George Springer’s school record for stolen bases.
Thanks to the canceled 2020 minor league season, Haskin didn’t get to play competitive baseball until 2021, which he split between Low-A Delmarva and High-A Aberdeen for 83 games. Early on, Haskin lived up to his reputation as an on-base and speed guy, posting a .381 OBP that first year, but with no homers at Aberdeen and just five at Delmarva. His season, unfortunately, was cut six weeks short by a fractured thumb.
Still, the New York native had shown enough to earn a promotion to Double-A Bowie to begin the 2022 season, and boy, did he announce his presence with authority. In his third game with the Baysox, Haskin crushed three home runs, the sixth player in franchise history to do so. For a guy not known for his power, it was the start of a breakout year in that department. Haskin finished the 2022 campaign with 15 home runs, and his .455 SLG was nearly 50 points better than his previous pro season. The uptick in power didn’t come at the expense of plate discipline; Haskin still posted a .367 OBP.
Defensively, Haskin has garnered rave reviews as well, with MLB Pipeline writing that his “athleticism and skillset lead many to believe Haskin will be able to stick in center field long-term.” Pipeline pegs his ceiling as “a big league regular who can do a little bit of everything offensively.”
Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.
Of course, there’s a reason he’s ranked #21 and not #1, and it’s not just the talented prospects ahead of him. Haskin has some question marks, beginning with a somewhat wonky swing. At Tulane he used an exaggerated crouch in which he appeared to be slumping downward as he made contact — see the 0:25 mark in his draft prospect video — which makes it easy to see why elevating the ball isn’t a huge part of his game. The Orioles appear to have cleaned up his mechanics somewhat since he joined the organization, though you can still see a bit of a dip-and-dive in his swings with the Baysox this season.
Haskin is “a potential double-plus runner” according to MLB Pipeline, but this year that speed didn’t translate into stolen bases. He attempted just eight steals and was successful on five. And there’s also the question of whether Haskin can sustain the power surge he showed in 2022. If he can’t keep his slugging up to snuff, major league pitchers won’t be afraid to challenge him in the strike zone.
Still, there’s a lot to like about Haskin, not only on the field but in the clubhouse, where he has built a mutual support system with several other O’s prospects and seems to have a positive attitude toward baseball and life. He lists his favorite book as The Four Agreements, a self-help guide whose tenets are: 1. Be impeccable with your word; 2. Don’t take anything personally; 3. Don’t make assumptions; and 4. Always do your best.
I’ll violate rule #3 and make an assumption that Haskin will begin next season at Triple-A Norfolk, where he’ll be stationed alongside the Orioles’ top outfield prospect, Colton Cowser. Haskin’s future in the Orioles’ organization, though, is unclear. He’s part of a crowded outfield picture that includes Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, and Kyle Stowers in the majors, plus Cowser likely ready to debut early next season. Lower in the minors, recently drafted outfielders Dylan Beavers and Jud Fabian could move quickly up the ladder. Haskin, through no fault of his own, could find himself lost in the shuffle. He also could be potential trade bait if the Orioles choose to make some aggressive moves this winter.
A big year is coming up for Haskin, who turns 24 on New Year’s Eve. If he can take another step forward at Norfolk, he may be able to put his name right up there with Cowser, Westburg, Norby, and the like as a potentially key figure in the Orioles’ march back to contention.
Tomorrow: John Rhodes and Reed Trimble