By JAY LeBLANC
The Boston Red Sox thought they had a steal on their hands when they snagged University of Washington left-hander Nick Hagadone with the 55th pick in the 2007 draft, and the early returns suggested they were right. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder got lit up for five runs in his pro debut that summer for the short-season Class A Lowell Spinners, then settled in and kept his opponents off the board in his final nine appearances. Promoted to the Class A Greenville Drive to begin the 2008 season, Hagadone opened the year with 10 more scoreless frames. But in his third start he blew out his elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery and ending his season.
Hagadone returned to the Drive on June 6 with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of work against the Houston Astros-affiliated Lexington Legends and kept the Colorado Rockies‘ South Atlantic League affiliate, the Asheville Tourists, off the board for 2 2/3 innings five days later. The scoreless streak he started back in 2007 came to an end when Asheville scored four runs off him in his next outing, but Hagadone has performed well despite the fact that his stuff hasn’t yet returned to its pre-Tommy John levels. In 16 innings of work, the 23-year-old has posted a 3.94 ERA and racked up 22 strikeouts.
I had the chance to speak with Hagadone - Boston’s No. 3 prospect, according to Baseball America - Monday night after his Greenville teammates scored a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals-affiliated Hagerstown Suns.
Q: You worked mostly out of the ‘pen at Washington but you’ve been used exclusively as a starter as a pro. What do you think your long-term role will be, and do you have a preference?
A: I’m really not sure what my role is going to be because I’m pretty limited now because I had Tommy John, so I can only pitch up to three innings. I think it’s probably going to depend on my changeup and how that develops.
Q: Could you talk a bit about the different pitches you throw and how you like to use them?
A: I throw a fastball, slider and change. I’m mostly a fastball pitcher, and when I get ahead in the count I like to throw my slider. Still, right now, coming back from the surgery, I’ve lost the feel for my changeup a little bit, so I’m still trying to get that figured out.
Q: How does your present stuff compare to your pre-Tommy John surgery stuff?
A: It’s close to where it was, but not quite. My fastball is good but the velocity is probably a couple miles per hour off where it was. My slider still has a sharp break but it’s still not as hard as it was. And my changeup, the feel’s just not there. I’ll throw a good one every once in a while but a lot of the time it’s not too good.
Q: Do you consider yourself a strikeout guy, a guy who pitches to contact, or some mixture of the two?
A: I’d say more of a mixture. I don’t put up huge strikeout numbers but I do strike out more than a guy an inning. So it’s kind of in between.
Q: Is there any pitcher, past or present, that you either look up to or try to model your approach after?
A: Not really - not that I try to model my approach after. But I’m from Seattle, so I grew up watching Randy Johnson and loving how he pitched.
Q: What are some of your goals for this season?
A: Mainly just to get through the season healthy, and to keep improving and trying to get back to where I was before, or better.
Q: How soon do you think you’ll be ready to help the Red Sox?
A: I have no idea. I can’t really put a timetable on it. I’m just trying to get healthy and get better as quick as I can, but you never know.
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Be sure to check out our previous National Pastime Prospect Q&A’s:
2009 -Jack McGeary, Nationals; L.J. Hoes, Orioles; Jordan Danks, White Sox; Mike Moustakas, Royals; Danny Duffy, Royals; Kyle Skipworth, Marlins; Xavier Avery, Orioles; Ryan Kalish, Red Sox; Derek Norris, Nationals; Zach Britton, Orioles; Pedro Alvarez, Pirates; Robbie Grossman, Pirates; Brandon Waring, Orioles; Casey Kelly, Red Sox; Michael Taylor, Phillies; Brandon Snyder, Orioles; Kyle Drabek, Phillies; Drew Storen, Nationals.
2008 -Matt Wieters, Orioles; Ross Detwiler, Nationals; Adrian Alaniz, Nationals; Jake Arrieta, Orioles; Greg Golson, Phillies; John Shelby III, White Sox; Brandon Erbe, Orioles; Chris Marrero, Nationals; Jason Donald, Phillies; John Ely, White Sox; Nolan Reimold, Orioles; Michael Burgess, Nationals; Wes Hodges, Indians; Colton Willems, Nationals; Chris Tillman, Orioles; Dominic Brown, Phillies; Brandon Hicks, Braves; Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals; Nick Weglarz, Indians; Gorkys Hernandez, Braves; Beau Mills, Indians; Stephen King, Nationals; Brad Bergesen, Orioles; Fernando Martinez, Mets; Derrick Robinson, Royals; David Hernandez, Orioles; Jason Castro, Astros; Bobby Parnell, Mets; George Kontos, Yankees; Brian Matusz, Orioles; Matt LaPorta, Indians; Austin Jackson, Yankees; Jeff Bianchi, Royals; Cole Rohrbough, Braves; Pat Venditte, Yankees.