Scouting Mets' Prospect #39: Aaron Hathaway

The New York Mets selected Aaron Hathaway in the 4th round of the 2004 draft out of the University of Washington. Despite only starting to play catcher later in high school, Hathaway has become one of the best defensive catchers going. Here's a scouting report on the Cyclones' Aaron Hathaway.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Aaron Hathaway
Position: Catcher
DOB: December 2, 1981
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Hathaway grew up as quite the athlete. In high school, he was an All-State quarterback, defensive end, punter, and kicker in football. He also also ran track and played soccer before settling on the decision to focus on baseball in college. He was just too small to have a true future in football. Once he was able to concentrate on baseball, Hathaway blossomed as a player. The coaches at the University of Washington, including Catching Coach Joe Ross, worked with him on his defense, improving so much, that Hathaway was named by Baseball America as the Pac-10 Defensive Catcher of the Year in 2004 and the Top Throwing Catcher in the conference. "Going into college I had been a catcher for about 2-3 years so I had to work hard on receiving and blocking. I had always had a decent arm because I used to play middle infield so I can get rid of the ball quickly so that really helps. I had to work really hard in college to get my defensive skills solid. I focused myself pretty much on that in college so I have improved a lot. I take lots of pride in my defensive skills so I have really worked hard on that in college", Hathaway told NYfansonly.com earlier in the year.

Hathaway is a level headed guy, very grounded in his roots. He's an emotional player. He wears #13, and has done so since the age of 7 or 8, in tribute to his father who played professional baseball. Hathaway also has a ritual before every at-bat where he remembers a great friend of his that was tragically killed his freshman year of college. He inscribes his friend's initials in the dirt outside the batter's box before every at-bat and has done so the last few years. Now engaged to be married, Hathaway also inscribes his fiance's initials as well.

After signing with the Mets in June of 2004 after being drafted in the fourth round, Hathaway was sent to Brooklyn to be the starting catcher. While he did not show much of the same offensive potential that he displayed in college, Hathaway's defensive reputation did not equate on the field. He was even better, throwing out better than 50% of base runners attempting to steal bases and picking off eight runners leaning too far off base.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

Brooklyn

.206

131

27

0

12

17

1

8

25

.250

.244


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. Hathaway is not the biggest guy going but does have good gap power, trying to jump on early fastball if he can. He has a better eye at the plate that his 2004 stats at Brooklyn indicate. He has good patience at the plate and uses all fields when he hits. He's not going to amaze anybody with his power. He'll jump on fastballs occasionally and has enough pop to keep pitchers honest. His ceiling is going to be about 20 home runs in the power department but is a good enough hitter to hit .280-290 each year.

Base Running and Speed. Hathaway is an athlete first and foremost. He has a lot more speed than most catchers and he'll sneak in a few steals here and there when catchers are napping. He surprises a lot of people with his quickness and is a very smart base runner.

Defense. As we've already said, he's a fantastic defensive player. His defense will carry him a long way. He has tremendous ability blocking balls in the dirt and opposing base runners learn pretty quickly to not and test his arm. He's got one of the quickest releases from behind the plate and one of the more accurate arms around. He's already one of the best defensive catchers in all of minor league baseball.

Projection. Hathaway projects to be a starting catcher at the Major League level. He's going to have to hit his way up through the ranks but he's already good enough defensively to make that leap. He'll never be confused with Mike Piazza at the plate, but he has the chance to develop into a Jason Kendall type of player offensively.

ETA. 2007. The Mets are blessed with three tremendous defensive catchers now in their farm system with the likes of Joe Hietpas and Jesus Flores. Chances are that at 23 years old, the Mets might challenge Hathaway in St. Lucie next season while giving Flores everyday at-bats at Hagerstown. If Hietpas ever realizes his offensive potential and both Flores and Hathaway progress offensively as expected, the Mets are going to have some hard decisions to make at the catcher position down the road.

Catchers

2004 Team

Michael Jacobs

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Joe Hietpas

AA - Binghamton Mets

Zach Clements A - St. Lucie Mets
Brandon Wilson A - St. Lucie Mets
Yunir Garcia A - Capital City Bombers
Jimmy Anderson A - Capital City Bombers
Aaron Hathaway A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Danilo Reynoso A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Stacy Bennett A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Rafael Arroyo R - Kingsport Mets
Luis Santanta R - Kingsport Mets
Jesus Flores R - GCL Mets


Comments

The drafting of Aaron Hathaway and the emergence of Jesus Flores made Justin Huber more expendable in the Mets' eyes this past season. Huber was a nice catcher with decent upside offensively but they already had a guy like that in Michael Jacobs. With the likes of Joe Hietpas, Hathaway, and Flores, the Mets already have three catching prospects that project to be everyday catchers down the road. The Mets also have a few other good catching prospects that project be good reserve catchers, giving the Mets' farm system excellent depth at this position.

1) Michael Jacobs - Jacobs, who had a coming out party offensively in 2003, missed most of the 2004 season with a torn labrum that effected his hitting more than his throwing. Jacobs has good power and an excellent eye at the plate. Like Huber, he needs to work on his defense behind the plate and may continue splitting time between first base and catching duties to get his bat in the lineup.

2) Joe Hietpas - Hietpas is one of the best defensive catchers, not only in the Mets' farm system, but in all of professional baseball. He continually amazes coaches and scouts alike for his defensive prowess and turned even more heads in the Arizona Fall League this past season. He has more offensive potential than he's shown thus far and is ready to prove it at the plate. Hietpas just needs the consistent at-bats to showcase his skills.

3) Zachary Clements - Like Hietpas, Clements is loved by the organization for his ability to call a game and for his defensive skills. He too just needs the consistent at-bats to better himself offensively. He hit .313 for St. Lucie this past season and has shown decent pop in his bat. Clements has good speed for a catcher, showing excellent athleticism behind the plate and on the base paths.

4) Brandon Wilson - Wilson is strong defensively but he's progressed a little more slowly offensively. He has a strong arm and blocks balls well behind the plate. He's going to find a hard time finding enough at-bats with other catchers garnering more interest for their offensive potential.

5) Yunir Garcia - 2004 was Garcia's breakout season offensively. He had always shown great defensive ability in the past and the Mets were waiting for his bat to catch up. Garcia clubbed 10 home runs for the Bombers this past season while showing good selectivity at the plate. He has an excellent chance of becoming a reserve catcher in the Majors someday.

6) Jimmy Anderson - Anderson fits in the same mold as Clements and Hietpas, an excellent catcher defensively that has not put it all together offensively. He's going to have to put up the solid numbers to overtake the likes of Hietpas, Hathaway, Clements, and Flores in the fight for consistent at-bats.

7) Aaron Hathaway - Despite just 39 professional games under his belt, Hathaway has already make a name for himself as a shutdown catcher. He has one of the fastest releases among all the Mets' catching prospects and a very accurate arm. He has a good eye at the plate and good gap power. His presence has deepen an already crowded stock of catching prospects.

8) Danilo Reynoso - Like Brandon Wilson, Reynoso has a tough task ahead of him. He's going to have put up good numbers despite not getting very many at-bats if he's to take away opportunities from the catching prospects ahead of him on the depth chart.

9) Stacey Bennett - Bennett has more offensive potential than he's shown in his short career thus far. He does have the ability to play other positions and he just may need to move to another position and it appears unlikely he's going to play ahead of the likes of Hathaway, Garcia, and Flores.

10) Rafael Arroyo - Arroyo, like most of the Mets' catching prospects, is solid defensively. He's a little too small to put up with the rigors of everyday catching duties. At 5'8" and 175 lbs, his size may be his one downfall.

11) Luis Santana - He's the lower-level version of Wilson and Reynoso, meaning he's going to have a hard time finding consistent at-bats, enough to make his mark offensively.

12) Jesus Flores - He's the catching prospect in the Mets' system that has the highest upside. He can catch, throw, hit for power and average, and a whole lot more. He has plus tools in all areas except run well. It's still way early but he has the look of a Pudge Rodriguez, offensively and defensively. He has all the tools. He just needs to go out and prove it.

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