After taking a college hitter with the organization’s first round pick, the Yankees did the same with its next selection. With no second round pick (thanks, Gerrit Cole!), the Yankees waited a long time to choose again after Austin Wells. Finally, in the third round, the Yankees drafted Arizona State outfielder Trevor Hauver with the 99th overall pick. Hauver was actually announced a second baseman, but we’ll get more into that in a bit. Let’s dive in to Hauver, who thankfully isn’t Trevor Bauer.
Hauver, a 21 year-old junior draftee, swings from the left side and throws from the right. This isn’t his first draft rodeo: the Royals took him in the 37th round back in 2017 following a strong high school career at Perry in Gilbert, Arizona. Perfect Game pegged Hauver as the state’s top shortstop, fourth-best prospect in Arizona, and 169th nationally. Rather than sign, Hauver chose to remain close to home and headed to Arizona State.
It took some time for Hauver to adjust to the collegiate ranks. As a freshman, he hit just .227/.344/.293 in 90 plate appearances. Perhaps some of his struggles can be linked to his positional switch, as he moved off of shortstop to play the outfield.
His freshman slump didn’t carry over to his sophomore season. Hauver spent most of the season in the leadoff spot and recorded an impressive .339/.433/.574 triple-slash along with 13 dingers in 289 plate appearances. Then, in his brief junior year, the left-handed hitter socked 5 homers in 83 trips to the dish while hitting .339/.494/.695.
Even though Hauver had a very good finish to his Arizona State career, he wasn’t close to being the Sun Devils’ best professional prospect. Spencer Torkelson (1st overall) and Alika Williams (37th) were off the board before Hauver’s name was called. Even Gage Workman, taken three picks after Hauver, probably is a better prospect depending on the publication of your choice. That said, for what it’s worth, Hauver was a better performer than Williams and Workman. Torkelson, of course, was on another level.
What the scouts say
From a big board perspective, Hauver could be considered a reach for pick number 99. Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball America ranked Hauver the 107th, 130th, and 201st best prospect in the 2020 draft. Those sites ranked the Yankees’ fourth rounder, Beck Way, higher than Hauver. Of course, the draft isn’t always about picking the best available given the bonus pool rules.
Hauver has some similarities to the Yankees’ first rounder, Wells. Now, the bat isn’t up to par with Wells, but Hauver is a bat-first prospect with defensive uncertainty. Moving off the infield as a freshman is already strike one. Strike two: Baseball America calls Hauver “an average defender or a tick below, with not enough range for center field or enough arm for right field”. If the infield is his end game, MLB Pipeline indicates that second base is the most likely landing spot. Hence the Yankees’ announcement of his position.
Fortunately, things look better for Hauver in the batters’ box. Scouts laud Hauver’s approach and barrel control. Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline project him to have average game power or better, while Fangraphs adds that his swing has a lot of lift. That sort of offensive profile works well at second base, but would make him fringy in left field. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees want to give Hauver every opportunity to stick in the infield dirt. Damon Opponheimer elaborates:
“The idea is if he can play in the middle of the field and we can get that to be something that’s a doable thing, then you add his bat to the middle of the field,” Oppenheimer said. “It can make him even that more valuable. He’s got a desire to move back to the infield.”
On top of the keystone, the Yankees will give Hauver some reps at third base. Considering Baseball America’s note about his arm strength, it’s hard to envision him at the hot corner. Either way, second base seems to align best with Hauver’s defensive capabilities and offensive potential. The good news is that he still has plenty of time to fend off the third strike defensively.
Will he sign?
There’s little incentive for Hauver to return for a senior season, so I’d expect him to go pro. The 99th pick’s slot value is $587,400, but an underslot deal seems plausible considering his draft stock.
There’s a Nick Solak and Josh Smith vibe to this Hauver pick. Both Solak (2016) and Smith (2019) are recent collegiate bat-first middle infielders that the Yankees took in an early round (both Solak and Smith were second rounders). Solak, now with the Rangers, has hit well in his brief big league career while Smith raked in his professional debut with Staten Island last summer.
The Yankees seemingly have done well with this type of selection in recent years. That said, it’s somewhat concerning that Hauver is a tweener. He played just one game in the infield at Arizona State over three years, so the Yankees have some work to do to get him comfortable on the dirt again. And really, he’ll have to stick at second base for his bat to be playable.