Baltimore Orioles: Five Prospects Facing Key Seasons In 2019
By Nick Stevens
Will RHP Brenan Hanifee start missing more bats in 2019?
I often forget that RHP Brenan Hanifee has yet to turn 21 years old and he’s not done developing physically. That’s a scary thought for opposing hitters. Arguably the most athletic pitcher in the Orioles’ system, Hanifee has had a fantastic start to his pro career, going 15-9 with a 2.83 ERA and 1.09 WHIP across 200 innings between short-season Aberdeen and full-season Delmarva.
A groundball artist, Hanifee has worked groundball rates of 58% and 54.5% in his first two seasons, with an even more impressive 4% walk rate in his career. He may not strike out a lot of hitters, but he hasn’t needed to, thus far. His pitch-to-contact style has been successful, thanks to the great sink he produces with his fastball and ability to hit his spots.
This season will be a big year for Hanifee for a few reasons. He’s likely to find himself with the High-A Frederick Keys and will be facing always tough Carolina League hitters. He doesn’t turn 21 until the end of May, so he will be going up against older competition that can’t be beaten with just his low-90s fastball and an average slider. The fastball velocity will go up, his slider has shown an improvement in each of his first two seasons, now let’s see the changeup.
He’s a workhorse with very low mileage on his arm, having not been a full-time pitcher since his senior year of high school. If he can show off his changeup and produce a few more strikeouts, you might start seeing Hanifee’s name a little more often, nationally. Like Lowther, he is a potential future rotation piece in Birdland.