55. Eric Haase – Catcher
Born: 12/18/1992 - Height: 5’10” - Weight: 180 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right
Facts & Info: Haase was selected in the 7th round of the 2011 Draft out of Divine Child High School (MI) and signed for $580,000. He had a commitment to attend and play baseball at Ohio State University had he elected to not sign with the Indians and go to college.
Offense: Haase combines a unique blend of power and athleticism at the catching position. He is not a big, physical player, but he really impacts the baseball thanks to some good strength and bat speed. He shows good power to all fields and flashes plus when he is able to stay within himself and get into a good launch position in his swing. He’s really shown a knack for making the most of the contact he makes and really drives the ball well as demonstrated by his career 48.1% extra base hit percentage. Simply put, when he makes contact, he impacts the baseball. His hit tool is below average and he will always be someone who hits for a lower average because he has a very aggressive swing, but he makes up for it a little bit with a solid, patient approach where he shows a willingness to take walks (career 8.5 BB%) and work counts.
Defense: Haase was primarily a catcher in high school so he came to professional baseball as more of a conversion player with little experience as a backstop. The Indians have spent a lot of time developing his skills behind the plate and feel he has become an adequate defender. Where he really excels is with his throwing as he is able to slow down a running game well because of his above average arm that is aided by some excellent footwork, a quick release and good accuracy. He shows a good feel for catching with above average athleticism, instincts and quickness which help his abilities play up. His good athleticism and strong arm could also allow for some versatility down the road to move out from behind the plate to play some first base and maybe even third base and the corner outfield.
Speed & Intangibles: Haase has a compact fame and is a solid average runner, which is good for a catcher. He runs the bases well with good instincts and gets good jumps and reads on contact. He is a disciplined, hard worker who is very self-motivated to improve and is a gamer who shows endless hustle on the field. He displays some good leadership qualities and is a good teammate. He has a strong aptitude and a willingness to be coached.
Focus: The biggest drawback with Haase continues to be his discipline at the plate and his inconsistent defense behind it. While everything else he does is very good and brings a lot of intrigue, without a consistent bat and glove his potential as a Major League catcher is limited. His over-aggressiveness at the plate puts him in too many bad counts and results in a lot of chase, which makes him an easy target to pitch to for more advanced pitchers. The Indians realize that his aggressiveness is what results in a lot of his high extra base hit totals, but they would like to see him relax a little more at the plate and keep things simple so he is less pull happy and instead works with a more consistent middle of the field approach. They want him to find that balance so he can impact the baseball but also have more controlled at bats, which in turn will help his discipline and allow him to have more consistent, quality at bats. He also needs to become a little more aware of how pitchers are pitching to him and get better at picking up offspeed offerings. Defensively, his blocking still needs a lot of work as it is inconsistent and he tends to stab at breaking balls. He also needs to become a better game caller and handling a staff.
Future: There is no question that Haase has the throwing arm and power bat that teams like out of a catcher, but he needs to get much better defensively and more consistent offensively before he becomes a true Major League option. He is getting up there in age as he is entering his age 24 season, though with catchers they can always be late bloomers so there is still some time for him to put things together offensively and defensively to get onto the Major League radar. He missed the first month of last season because of an ankle injury he suffered in spring training, and because of that late start he not only had to play catch up the rest of the season but he also lost a lot of playing time at catcher to Jeremy Lucas and Daniel Salters. Chances are that same trio will make up the catching unit at Double-A Akron to start the season, so we may see Haase play some first base and or another position to add some versatility and more value for him and so that he can get regular at bats.
Ranking History: #40 (2016), #26 (2015), #23 (2014), #28 (2013), #45 (2012)