Former West Coast League star Mitch Haniger could not be more excited about his recent trade to the Seattle Mariners and a return to the Pacific Northwest.
“Can’t wait for spring already! Let’s go @Mariners,” he tweeted on his Twitter page, @m_Hanny19, following Seattle’s blockbuster deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Nov. 23.
“Pumped to be a part of such a great organization!”
The M’s acquired Haniger, shortstop Jean Segura and left-handed pitcher Zac Curtis from Arizona for right-hander Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte in a five-player deal that most observers believe will help both teams.
“We see Haniger as a high-ceiling prospect who projects to join our outfield as soon as next season,” Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto said in an interview with MLB.com, which ranks the former Cal Poly star – the 2012 Big West Conference Player of the Year – as the 14th-best prospect in the Seattle organization.
The 25-year-old San Jose native made his Major League debut with Arizona last Aug. 16 and went 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and three RBIs in a 7-5 loss to the Mets.
He had six hits, five RBIs and three extra-base hits in his first three games in the majors before ultimately cooling off. Overall he hit .229/.309/.404 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 34 games.
Haniger’s major-league stint concluded a breakout year that saw the versatile outfielder earn Arizona’s Minor League Player of the Year honors. He finished with a .321 average, 25 homers and 94 RBIs while splitting his time with Mobile (AA Southern League) and triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast League).
He hit an amazing .351 in 64 games at Reno, with 18 doubles, 19 homers, 56 RBIs and a whopping 1.034 OPS. He was the PCL Player of the Month for July, when he led all of affiliated baseball with 25 extra-base hits.
“He knows how to play the game,” since-fired Arizona manager Chip Hale said at the time. “He’s really kind of put it together this year.
“He hit his way up here [to Arizona]. His approach at the plate should carry over and be very successful.”
Haniger helped lead the Corvallis Knights to the 2010 South Division regular-season title. He was a first-team all-West Coast League selection, and was named as the league’s No. 5 pro prospect by Baseball America and the No. 4 prospect by Perfect Game.
He returned to Cal Poly for his sophomore and junior years and was selected 38th overall in the 2012 MLB draft by Milwaukee. After two years in their minor league system, he was dealt to Arizona in July, 2014, in a trade-deadline deal for outfielder Gerardo Parra.
Mitch hit .310, with 13 homers, at Mobile and Visalia (A California) in 2015, and then had a massive season in 2016. He is a career .290 hitter in 455 minor-league games, with 61 homers and 268 RBIs.
Click here for more info on Haniger from SoDo Mojo, a prominent Mariners blog.
Haniger is one of three players from the 2010 Corvallis Knights that are young prospects in the big leagues. He will join pitcher Matt Boyd of Detriot and shortstop Matt Duffy of Tampa Bay in the American League.
ABOUT THE WEST COAST LEAGUE
The West Coast League is the premier summer collegiate baseball league west of the Mississippi. The 13-year-old, 11-team, professionally operated wood-bat league located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest features pro prospects from major conferences across the nation and an unparalleled history out west of great fan and player experiences in addition to the best summer weather in North America. In 2016, 88 players with WCL experience were selected in the MLB June draft, and more than 230 WCL alums appeared in affiliated professional baseball including 28 in the major leagues, such as 2015 home-run leader Chris Davis (Baltimore), 2015 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Matt Duffy (Tampa Bay) and rising star pitchers Matt Andriese (Tampa Bay), Matt Boyd (Detroit) and James Paxton (Seattle). Overall member attendance was 379,611 this past season.