Weekend Coffee with James Krueger: Inside Jesse Hahn


Jun 14, 2014; New York, NY, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Jesse Hahn (45) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY SportsSan Diego Padre

When Alex Torres was acquired for Logan Forsythe and Brad Boxberger, one of the names barely mentioned in the news was Jesse Hahn. Hahn had dealt with injury issues in his career, including a Tommy John surgery. But when he is healthy, he’s undeniably nasty. He’s never posted an ERA above 2.77 or a FIP higher than 2.83 in the minors. Not only does he get good results, but he struck out over 23% of all batters over his three minor league seasons. For a team that’s still giving Eric Stults playing time, Hahn provides a fantastic option to take over the number five role in the rotation when Robbie Erlin comes back, and his ceiling is much higher.

The first thing about the 6’5 righty is he uses his size to get good results on his fastball. The pitch routinely comes in 95+, though he often will sit in the low 90s, and it comes with almost 5 inches of run on it. Because his frame is so large, Hahn can release the ball closer to the plate, making the pitch pop even more to opposing hitters. It’s good, late movement also helps him get a great grounder rate, 62.5% in his major league career so far. But he also can use it for whiffs, making it play up by locating his heater properly.

Jesse Hahn made a name for himself with an above average major league fastball, but his real value comes from his curveball. Opponents only make contact 75% of the time against the pitch, a tremendous rate especially for a rookie. The curve gets almost 8 inches of vertical drop, and his long release point makes the break happen later in the pitch’s trajectory. This leads to unpredictable fade, and often leaving hitters swinging at the air.

He also got a hit his last time out against the Mets, and judging by the way the offense has performed so far, maybe Bud Black should consider giving him regular starts in the lineup.

Despite two plus pitches, Hahn does lack a quality changeup or cutter to use to bust platoons against lefties. He’s thrown one of each this year, but both pitches clearly lag behind, and have had extensive work put into them during his minor league assignments. He also needs to fix his control, as a 12% walk rate is way too high, no matter how good his strikeout rate it.

Jesse Hahn has a bright future as a middle of the rotation starting pitcher, who flashes signs that he could be even more. He could very well end up the best player of the offseason trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, despite their history for being trade savvy. Hahn has a great foundation to work with, as long as he can continue to develop his trouble areas he will be a mainstay here in San Diego.