When Hudson Haskin’s world shut down in March, lives changing in drastic measures due to the coronavirus pandemic, he had no idea whether he’d play college baseball again. And whether the impact on his status in the First-Year Player Draft would be minimal or severe.
Like so many other people around the world, all he could do was wait through it and count his blessings.
Haskin wouldn’t see another pitch at Tulane University, but the Orioles made it clear that they wanted him in their minor league system, choosing him yesterday in the second round with the 39th overall pick.
“I’ve still got to pinch myself and come back to reality a little bit,” he said earlier today in a Zoom call with the media. “It’s been an awesome couple of days and really excited to get drafted by such an amazing franchise and ready to get going.”
As a sophomore-eligible player, Haskin could stay in school for up to three years and re-enter the draft. He gave no real indication today that he’s considering it.
“I’ve got to sit down and talk with my family about it, but I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to get going,” he said. “This is something I wanted to do ever since I was a little kid and the opportunity to be a part of an organization like the Orioles is something that I really value and cherish, so if everything works out I’m really looking forward to getting started.”
Haskin, 21, got off to a hot start this year at Tulane, going 22-for-66 (.333) with six doubles, a triple, a home run and 14 RBIs in 17 games. He couldn’t maintain the roll, through no fault of his own.
Baseball stopped and Haskin wondered what else 2020 could possibly have in store for him.
“The whole world’s just kind of been in a standstill for a bit,” he said. “For me, the biggest thing I took away from it is just how fragile life is and baseball specifically. It’s just a blessing to be able to play at a high level and go to a great school like Tulane, but it’s easy to take that for granted sometimes. This situation really just put it in perspective, like it can be gone in a second.
“And as far as the draft goes, I felt like for me, even though it was difficult to not think about it all the time just because it is such a significant point in your life, I felt like I left everything I could on the field and everything was out of my control. So it was up to the teams if they wanted to take me. I felt like I did everything I could and just really happy where I ended up. Couldn’t think of a better fit.”
Haskin batted .372/.459/.647 with 19 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and 52 RBIs in 245 plate appearances as a freshman and .306/.340/.500 with three doubles, four triples, five homers and 23 RBIs in 32 games with Newport in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. He’s a plus runner and defender - no errors committed in college - who’s able to cover lots of ground in center field.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis described him as a potential 20-20 guy. The hand-eye coordination also is viewed as a plus, but the swing’s never been described as pretty.
Somehow he makes it work, which brings comps to Hunter Pence.
“It’s been something that’s kind of evolved over time,” he said. “I think as I get older, I now have an understanding of what works for me and kind of ownership of, yeah, I may be a little unorthodox but that’s what works for me and that’s how I’m comfortable hitting.
“It’s taken me 21 years to get to this point, but I feel really good with where I’m at now and where I need to be moving forward.”
The Orioles arranged a Zoom call with Haskin, a common practice for them during the draft process.
“I didn’t really know much about the interest level of all the different teams and stuff,” he said. “I was just kind of going through the process and hoping for the best scenario. When I saw my name got picked, it was a surreal experience and something I worked for my whole life, so really excited.
“I grew up in New York City and was a pretty big Yankees fan, baseball fan in general, but the Orioles were always on TV and that was right when they had Adam Jones and Brian Roberts and (Matt) Wieters. And I do remember like it was yesterday watching all those games and they were such an exciting team. So to have the opportunity to potentially join that organization and kind of continue that legacy is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Haskin attended Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, which also produced Astros outfielder George Springer. They’ve never met or spoken, but an impression was made on the young hitter.
“He has served as a mentor for me, for sure,” Haskin said. “Ever since I got to Avon, he’s been somebody that I’ve looked toward as a benchmark and tried to push myself to accomplish half of what he has.
“I tell this story. The first day I got to Avon we have these things called chapel talks, where a student or a teacher will go up and give kind of an inspirational message or something like that. And it just happened my first day the baseball coach, Mr. (Robert) Dowling, gave the chapel talk and he talked about five Avon baseball players and their development over the years, and one of those guys was George Springer.
“He came to Avon, he was like 5-1, 110 pounds and (Dowling) talked about his journey throughout his high school years and going to UConn and eventually getting picked by the Astros, and I can remember sitting there - I was 5-7, 135 - and I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got six inches and 25 pounds on him.’ That’s just been my mindset. If somebody’s been successful in my shoes, there’s no reason why I can’t. So he’s had a huge impact on my life, for sure.”
Springer made his major league debut in 2014 and is a three-time All-Star with a World Series championship ring. Haskin is just trying to get through 2020, a year that’s filled him with so many emotions.
That’s taken away baseball and brought it back to him.
“The toughest part was nothing is really in your control,” he said. “If the season was still going on, you’d still have opportunities to prove yourself and help your stock one way or the other. But with the season being cut short, you didn’t really have control of anything anymore. But the way I’ve kind of always looked at my baseball career is just I try to leave no regrets and I felt like I put myself in a position where I’ve done everything I could to perform with how I did.
“When the season ended, obviously it was tough. You want to keep playing. There’s a lot of different emotions, but at the end of the day, I knew I could look myself in the mirror and say I gave it everything I had, so let the chips fall where they may.”