Haskin had only a brief setback after being hit in hand

Given the stretch of injuries that are hitting the Orioles at practically every turn, on their own roster and especially in the minors, they must have braced for the worst when a pitch ran in on Hudson Haskin’s hands during his first at-bat of an April 13 game in Binghamton.

Haskin was hit and headed to the clubhouse. Lineups posted for Double-A Bowie excluded him until six days later, with one exception – when a separate health issue caused him to be scratched.

In what’s started out as a special 2022 season for the Baysox outfielder, Haskin singled twice before the errant pitch and went 3-for-5 with a home run and six RBIs immediately upon his return.

Haskin, 23, collected two more hits the following night and his average dropped. That’s a hot start.

The ball that sidelined Haskin struck him on the bottom of the left hand, “that little fragile area,” said Baysox manager Kyle Moore. No broken bones, but some anxiety that ran through the organization.

“The only reason I took him out of the game was because the time where he ran the bases and then came off, he just had a ton of swelling fast, so that threw up a red flag and we said, ‘Let’s just give it a day and see what it feels like tomorrow,’” Moore said. “Ended up needing another day just because it’s one of those small bones and we wanted to make sure. X-rays were negative and all that, but just wanted to give him a fair chance to really grip the bat and pull it through there.”

Moore managed Haskin at Single-A Aberdeen last season when the second-round draft pick fractured his thumb in August on another hit-by-pitch. Haskin thought about it the moment that he left the April 13 game.

“I was (concerned) at first, but range of motion came back pretty quick, so it’s good to be back out there,” he said. “It was a little scary there, but it’s feeling better.”

The hand healed, but Haskin needed to wait a little longer to play again.

“We were dealing with a thing where, it was so cold outside and we fired him up to see if he could get back in the lineup, and then he had some sort of spasm in his hip area,” Moore said. “We had to scratch him. But I think it was probably a combination of the weather, and then he had pretty much a full off day the day before, so when he fired back up he just wasn’t ready to go. It was 35 degrees outside and there was snow. It was all precautionary, but he’s fine. It was just a thing where he had a day for his hand and it ended up costing him two.”

The power tool often arrives later. Haskin hit five home runs in 83 games in 2021, his first professional season, but he had four in his first six this month.

“It’s definitely coming to the surface, for sure,” Moore said. “I think Huddy’s just, he’s super athletic, so he swings fast. He’s a fast runner, he’s an explosive player, so I think he ran into a few where he’s actually really swinging fast and not trying to necessarily manipulate the ball, but trying to put a fast swing on a ball to the middle of the field. And it just so happens it’s working out for him to really accelerate the barrel right now.

“But I think he’s always had that in the tank. To just really clear his approach to the middle of the field fast, and that’s kind of helped him with that.”

Haskin, who had a sacrifice fly yesterday against Akron and is batting .385/.432/.769 after a 1-for-14 stretch, spent part of his winter at a gym in Florida – nothing fancy or extremely high-tech, but a place to gather with some friends and tweak his approach at the plate.

“I worked really hard over this offseason, made some adjustments,” he said. “Biggest thing just working on my posture and making sure that my body’s in a better position to hit. Felt like I hit a lot of balls hard last year, but I wasn’t putting myself in a position to drive the ball. Now that my body’s in a better position, I think that I’m starting to see more results.

“I had some people that I was working out with that helped me a lot. Tried to address some physical issues, making sure that I was moving properly, and also just working on being consistent and staying tall through my swing.”

Haskin never hit more than one home run in a game until launching three against three different Richmond pitchers on April 10.

“Really blessed to be able to do that and, most importantly, help the team win,” he said. “That was definitely a cool experience.”

Most players would be thinking about a third after the first two. Haskin?

“Honestly, no,” he said. “I never hit two before in a game, so that wasn’t going through my mind at all.”

MLBPipeline.com rates Haskin as the No. 16 prospect in the organization, with three other outfielders ahead of him, including first-round picks Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad. Others in the top 30 include Kyle Stowers and Yusniel Diaz, the latter on Triple-A Norfolk’s injured list but progressing from a strained hamstring. Robert Neustrom is an outsider who’s reached Triple-A and could debut this summer.

The Orioles routinely start Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander in their outfield.  The position offers impressive depth, allowing them to designate former first-rounder DJ Stewart for assignment.

“I feel like there’s enough love out there for everybody and there are a lot of really good people in this organization, and I want everybody to do well,” Haskin said. “I think if I prepare the way that I prepare and work hard, at the end of the day I’ll put myself in a good position to get to the big leagues.”

The prospects can motivate each other.

“One hundred percent,” Haskin said. “I think the organization has done a really good job of establishing a culture here. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable and pushing each other to get the best out of ourselves.”

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