Scouting Padres Prospect Jason Hagerty

The San Diego Padres don't have much depth at catcher within the system but hope Jason Hagerty, a switch-hitting catcher with power, can turn around those fortunes.

Vital Statistics;
Name: Jason Hagerty
Position: C
DOB: September 13, 1987
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 220
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

A fifth-round pick in 2009, Hagerty was sent to short-season Eugene for his debut. He saw action in 47 games for the Emeralds, hitting .225 with 18 extra-base hits, including six homers.

The switch-hitting catcher managed a 26-to-47 walk-to-strikeout ratio for a .335 on-base percentage. He also scored 34 runs and knocked in 26, hitting anywhere from third through eighth in the lineup.

"It was a challenge because he's not getting enough work from either side, so I was trying to talk to him about that," former Eugene hitting coach Eric Peyton said. "He was a catcher, and he did a lot of bullpens and all that. He's a very busy man, but he does hit from both sides."

Hagerty struggled with men in scoring position, hitting just .193 in 57 at-bats. He hit .216 off right-handed pitching and .256 off left-handers.

He was moved up to Triple-A Portland because of injuries late in the year and went 2-for-15 with a double and an RBI.

Hagerty hit .315 in his final year with Miami, smacking 14 home runs with 60 RBI and 58 runs scored. He led the ‘Canes in RBI, triples, slugging percentage, extra-base hits, total bases, and walks.

As a right-handed hitter, Hagerty has a bit of length to his swing and does not get consistent load or separation – more of an aluminum bat swing. His stride is also relatively short for such a stout individual. Another issue has been striding towards the plate, leaving him susceptible to inside fastballs.

As a left-handed hitter, Hagerty holds his hands a little higher and gives himself a wider base to hit with. He does not lengthen his stride but rocks back to get weight transference before exploding towards the ball. His swing is a bit shorter to stay inside the ball, bringing his elbow through before his hands follow suit.

On both sides, he was wrapping his bat towards the pitcher – making it a longer descent to get his bat through the hitting zone. That would make him late on good fastballs and wouldn't allow him to let the ball travel deep on off-speed pitches. He will then be able to consistently go the other way and hit the ball where it is pitched.

"He has two different stances," Peyton said. "One's a lot more centered on the right side than the left-hand side, but he's got pop on both sides. I think what he needs to learn is what kind of hitter is he? They pitched him pretty tough. He hung in there, but he's lost a little confidence here for a while. Even (manager Greg) Riddoch was telling me he was a little patient from the left-hand side, with pitch selection.

"You want to work on one side and switch to the other side. That's a lot of work, a switch-hitter, surprisingly much. Once again, he's a good ball player, athletic for his size."

A powerful specimen, Hagerty is more patient than he showed in his inaugural season. When he struggles, a lack of pitch selection follows. He is then prone to chasing pitches outside of the zone. From there, he begins to try and pull everything and ignores the opposite field.

In instructs, Hagerty made several improvements on his swing. Striding towards the plate has been rectified and the penchant for wrapping his bat cut down. Those two issues will help him immensely. He still needs to be short to the ball to reach his full power potential rather than relying on his arms to feel the brunt of a pitch.

"I have a whole lot of good feelings about him," Eugene manager Greg Riddoch said. "He beats himself up real bad. Does not know the strike zone like he should. He's aware of these things, and as soon as he learns the strike zone, I think he's going to be a much better hitter."

After logging a lot of time at first base in college, Hagerty was reintroduced to catching on a full-time basis. It was a bit humbling for the Missouri native. He threw out 8-of-42 base runners attempting to steal off him across two leagues, good for 19 percent.

Hagerty has a plus arm and plenty of strength to get it to second on a timely basis. He needs to shore up his footwork and mechanics, however, to make accurate throws. When he jumps out of his stance, Hagerty is facing where the second base fielder is – that means his arm has to whip around his body to make the throw, making it tail. Being aligned better with the bag will make his throwing motion shorter and more accurate.

He is a vocal leader that can draw pitchers into a comfort level with his game-calling ability. He is sure of himself and not afraid to correct or comfort a pitcher. Hagerty is also adept at keeping balls in the dirt in front of him and frames a pitch well.

"Jason has done really well, which is kind of surprising coming right out of the draft to here and learning the guys swings and knowing what they hitter is trying to do in certain situations," former Eugene and current Fort Wayne pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said. "There are times when he looks over and wants some advice from me. He has done an outstanding job working with these guys. I talk to him about a lot of things. I tell him if this guy is doing that, go out there and talk to him to tell him what the pitcher is doing so we can get back on line and concentrate on what we are doing."

Given his history, Hagerty should find a way to curtail the running game further in 2010. He has the tools but needs small adjustments to make that happen.

"He can run and play first also," Peyton said. "He's got a good arm. He needs to work on his accuracy, but he come to play everyday. Like I said, I like him a lot. I thought he had some talent."

"He has an above-average arm, 55 arm, some mechanical issues in the throwing portion of it, where he takes the front shoulder and closes it too far so his arm comes around the corner to second base, but he's aware of that, and so is Duffy Dyer and I'm sure they're working on that," Riddoch said. "But the switch-hitting catcher with the great body and can catch and throw? It's just a matter of what the bat's going to end up doing. Time will tell that."

"Hagerty is the guy out of the draft that we liked because of his catching ability and power potential," former Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He didn't catch a lot at Miami this year, he played mainly first base, but we did get quite a few looks at him as a freshman and sophomore. At Eugene, we really wanted him to get comfortable behind the dish as opposed to at the plate, although we were a little disappointed in his overall average."

Conclusion: Hagerty's success will ultimately tie to his bat. He has a lot of the catching basics down and will improve in those areas. How he adjusts with his hitting, maintaining similar swings from both sides, will go a long way towards determining his future. He has power and some patience – if the two can meet, he has the potential to be a consistent threat.

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