MadFriars' Interview: Jesse Hahn

SAN ANTONIO, TX:  This winter the Padres traded away super utility infielder Logan Forsythe and some decent prospects in RHP Matt Andriese,  RHP Matt Lollis, RHP Brad Boxberger and second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for LHP Alex Torres and RHP Jesse Hahn.

Most of the attention focused on San Diego's need for left-handed relief pitcher coming out of the pen and while Torres was unarguably the main component of the trade in the end Jesse Hahn, 24, a six-foot-five 200 lbs. pitcher from Norwich, Connecticut, could end up having the most upside.

As always, when talking about prospects the key word is "might" but there is a lot to like about Hahn.   In three minor league seasons he has struck out 143 batters in 140.2 innings pitched against only 42 walks for a 2.50 ERA.  He has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched in every year he has been in professional baseball and he has the type of lean, rangy size scouts look for in a pitcher.

After sitting out most of 2012 and part of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery he pitched well in High-A Charlotte for the Ray's organization before being sent to San Diego in the off-season.

Hahn impressed many in big league camp this year and the Padres are being very careful with his innings limiting him to three innings an outing until recently stretching him out for four.

We caught up with Jesse to talk about coming over from Tampa and what Padres fans should expect from him in the future.

How did you hear the news that you had been traded?

Jesse Hahn: Our farm director gave me a call and I was actually in the spring training complex a little early to get a jump on the season and one of the trainers called me in. They got me on the phone and let me know that I've been traded.

It was pretty quick and simple.

How do you react to that? This was the organization that drafted you and you can envision yourself with the big club and then you get traded?

Jesse Hahn: I was shocked at first because I thought they had pretty big plans for me and also that I was progressing the way they wanted me too.

But I guess it was the best decision for them because they needed someone at the major league level and I wasn't ready yet. In the end I think it worked out for everyone.

You had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and came back in 2013 and put up some good numbers in High-A Charlotte. Since this surgery is so prevalent in the Padres' organization could you describe what the recovery process is like?

Jesse Hahn: It's hard. The most difficult part is the mental aspect of being able to throw all of your pitches and not worry about their being pain in your elbow. Once you get through that it's like riding a bike again. Your command comes back through work in the bullpen.

I've heard that your velocity comes back first then the command. Is that correct?

Jesse Hahn: The velocity comes back first because of all the rehab you do. Your shoulder is stronger than ever because of all the work you are doing because that is all you can really rehab.

The Padres had you in major league camp during the spring and you pitched well. Quite a few people noticed it too. What were you doing so well to catch everyone's attention?

Jesse Hahn: I was just throwing strikes and attacking hitters. It was my first major league camp and I tried to go in there fearless and pitch to the batter not the name on the jersey.

You are on a bit of a short leash so far this year. Is that because you didn't get enough innings in the spring or still some of the lingering affects from the Tommy John surgery?

Jesse Hahn: A little bit of both. I was a reliever in major league camp and the Padres want me as a starter so I wasn't able to build up my innings during major league camp. So right now I'm trying to get my innings up. I'm on a cap for the year; I'm only allowed to throw a 100 innings.

I don't want to throw too many innings to quick or I won't be able to throw any at the end of the season. I don't really mind it because the Rays had me on the same program.

Can you describe what you throw?

Jesse Hahn: I attack with my fastball. I throw a curve, change and a slider here and there.

Is it mainly a four-seam or two-seam fastball?

Jesse Hahn: I throw both and mix them up about equally. My main goal is always to attack and throw strikes. Just mix up the pitches and have some fun.

That shows up in your walk totals You haven't really walked that many batters in your career.

Jesse Hahn: Yeah, I've been happy with that, but I've walked a few too many so far this season. I need to clean that up.

You seem like you are pretty happy so far to be with the Padres.

Jesse Hahn: Definitely. Everyone has been really welcoming and I've really enjoyed being around my teammates.

Also this isn't a bad place to pitch.

Jesse Hahn: [laughs] Best park I've ever played in. They all should be like this.

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