Haseley’s approach working
Batting practice at Bowman Field is a pretty light-hearted time. Jokes tend to fly in a fast and furious manner around the hitting shell.
Even though there’s serious work being put in, at times with some serious instruction from the coaching staff to a young group of players, there’s a lot of fun being had.
But when Adam Haseley walks to the cage, there’s very little joking coming from him. One day during the Williamsport Crosscutters’ last homestand, he approached the cage and I asked how he was doing.
Without a hitch in the preparation of his baseball bat, he answered “good.” I asked if he was sure since his facial expression never seems to change.
“Just trying to get into game mode,” Haseley said with a smile.
It’s that attitude which has been the crux of Haseley’s rise to being a first-round pick. And it’s at the crux of the start to his professional career which has him posting eye-opening numbers.
He’s clearly a talented baseball player. The Philadelphia Phillies wouldn’t have made him the eighth overall pick in last month’s draft if he wasn’t talented. But in his time with Williamsport, what’s separated him from the rest of a proficient and adept roster is that work ethic.
At a time when others are willing to joke around and have some fun, Haseley is utilizing a laser-like focus which has him dialed in even some two or three hours before first pitch. Adam Haseley is just different.
And by different, I don’t mean he’s just supremely talented. There are plenty of supremely talented players who have come through Williamsport and worn a Crosscutters uniform. But it’s that work ethic and that attention to detail with every swing he takes in the batting cage which separates him from everybody else.
“He is the most diligent worker in BP,” Cutters manager Pat Borders said during the team’s last homestand. “You can’t get him off his routine or off his concentration. If you get five or six swings in BP, that’s what he takes. He doesn’t take any extra because he’s locked in on that. His work ethic is why he’s as good as he is.”
The noise surrounding Adam Haseley is deafening. Everyone wants a piece of him. Fans want his autograph. Kids want their photo with him. Cameras from reporters are constantly in his face. Reporters from opposing teams ask for 5 or 10 minutes of his time to pepper him with the same questions he’s already heard over and over.
He answers every single one of them. There’s never a “not today” or a “some other time.” The funny thing is on his first day in Williamsport, he and I discussed how nice it would be to get back to baseball after dealing with a media circus in Philadelphia for a couple days.
But none of it has distracted him from his job. His concentration is as unbreakable as Bruce Willis in an M. Night Shyamalan thriller.
“He tries to repeat stuff in batting practice. He doesn’t waste swings. He’s trying to accomplish something with every swing,” Borders said. “He’s not just putting the ball in play in BP, he’s doing something and has a plan on each ball of each round. He’s working on something and obviously he’s worked on it for years and it’s a good regiment for him.”
Don’t be mistaken. His approach in batting practice isn’t uncommon. Each player has something in particular they’re working on. Nobody is Vladimir Guerrero in the cage swinging at any and everything just to go through the motions.
But Haseley’s focus is just a little bit different. And that characteristic is invaluable to the youngest team in the New York-Penn League. On any given day, the Crosscutters are starting four position players who are still teenagers and one 20-year-old who didn’t play last year because of injury. And that doesn’t even include the four potential starting pitchers who are 20 or younger.
His work ethic can be a catalyst for the rest of the team to see how it needs to be done to reach the level he’s at right now. That could potentially be just as important as any numbers the 21-year-old University of Virginia product could post.
Those numbers, though, they’re pretty nasty. A .375/.458/.500 slash line with a .958 OPS on top of a 12.5 percent walk rate. It’s all incredibly encouraging because it’s important for a fan base starving for a winner again to see their top pick perform well out of the gate.
Trust, though, that it’s not as easy as Haseley often makes it look. He’s a battler in the box.
Over his 48 plate appearances with Williamsport, Haseley has seen an average of 4.2 pitches per plate appearance. In his last five games, that number has increased to 4.55 pitches per plate appearance. Over his last five games, he’s seen at least six pitches in a plate appearance nine times in 20 PAs.
He fouls off more pitches than maybe anybody on the team. He very rarely chases a pitch out of the strike zone. Both those traits are uncommon to this league and both are examples for the youngest team in the league of how to approach at-bats.
“If you were looking to say something negative about the kid, I wouldn’t find it,” Borders said. “He’s a good kid, a good person, a good worker, a good teammate and a good player.”
Haseley isn’t long for Williamsport. Imagining him staying with the team through July just seems unrealistic because the Phillies have bigger plans for him. Director of Player Development Joe Jordan said over the weekend there’s likely another move coming in Haseley’s season, but to where and when are both mysteries at this point.
But take a moment as the Cutters begin a five-game homestand tonight against Lowell and State College, and just appreciate the work which has gone into Haseley reaching this level of production. Appreciate how that work translates into game situations and soak it in.
It doesn’t come around all the time, and it truly is a treat to watch.
Mitch Rupert covers the Williamsport Crosscutters for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/@Mitch_Rupert.