I have written about a lot of different prospects here this season, with pitching prospects being more frequent. Today, I want to talk about another pitching prospect that has not gotten a whole lot of attention this season due to several factors, but right-hander Brenan Hanifee is very impressive and deserves some recognition.
Hanifee, 20, was the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater, Va. At 6-foot-5, 180 lbs., Hanifee has a tall frame and room to mature physically.
The Orioles have seen an influx of prospects this year through the draft and trades, and have seen some of their pitching prospect flourish in the likes of Keegan Akin, DL Hall, Michael Baumann and Zac Lowther, just to name a few. So it’s not overwhelmingly surprising that Hanifee has not seen much print time in the bigger outlets, though we have talked about him a lot over at Baby Birdland.
Having turned 20 in May, Hanifee is nearly two years younger than the average player in the Single-A South Atlantic League, yet the Delmarva Shorebird is among the league’s best.
Hanifee is among the league leaders in ERA (ninth), wins (tied, 12th), innings pitched (fifth) and WHIP (seventh).
Overall for the season, Hanifee is 7-5 with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP over 21 starts and 122 innings. In addition, he has held opponents to a .245 batting average and has struck out 77 while walking just 21.
There is a lot to like about Hanifee’s arsenal on the mound for future projection as well. He has a fastball that sits in the upper 80s to low 90s, but can top out around the 93 mark. The best part about his fastball though is that it is what we like to call heavy. It has some good sink to it. and when you combine that with the fact that he works down plane well with his tall frame, Hanifee induces a lot of ground balls.
He also possesses a very good slider that sits in the low 80s and a changeup that is currently average, but should improve with time as well.
Perhaps the thing that I like most about Hanifee in comparison to several of the other pitching prospects in the O’s system, is that he undoubtedly projects as a starting pitcher. His three-pitch arsenal, combined with his good command speak to that, but so does the fact that he can get both left- and right-handers out with lefties hitting just 13 points higher against him than righties.
Already sitting at 122 innings, I would not be surprised if we only get to see Hanifee for a few more starts. I would imagine his innings limit this year would be a lot like Alex Wells’ last year, where he was capped at 140 innings.
Having been named a mid-season All-Star last season for short-season Single-A Aberdeen as well as a MiLB.com organizational All-Star at the end of last season, I fully expect Hanifee to add to his awards list. I anticipate him being named a South Atlantic League post-season All-Star and could very well earn a second straight MiLB.com organizational All-Star nod.
Josh Michael blogs about the Orioles for Baby Birdland. Follow him on Twitter: @BabyBirdland. His opinions on the Orioles will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s longstanding initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.