Is he a future pitcher or a catcher? Could he possibly be both?When it comes to Hagen Danner, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound prospect fresh out of Huntington Beach (Calif.) High School, the question of where he best fits in a professional organization might still be up in the air as the
Is he a future pitcher or a catcher? Could he possibly be both?
When it comes to Hagen Danner, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound prospect fresh out of Huntington Beach (Calif.) High School, the question of where he best fits in a professional organization might still be up in the air as the June 12 Major League Baseball Draft approaches, but there are some things about Danner that are not raising any kind of debate.
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"They're going to get a competitor," says Danner's high school coach, Benji Medure, when asked what a potential big league organization will procure when selecting Danner. "They're going to get someone with just a ton of athleticism, an electric arm, someone who really is going to care for his teammates, pull for each other. He's going to be a very smart baseball player.
"On the field, he's going to do things that he feels. He has very good baseball instincts. And they're going to get a winner. He has won at every level that he's been at, and he's going to continue to do that wherever he goes."
Medure has been watching Danner since the right-hander with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and eye-popping power at the plate was making Southern California headlines and appearing on national TV as an integral part of the Ocean View team that won the Little League World Series over Japan.
Back then, even at 12, Danner was part of a legendary squad that also included his longtime friend, Huntington Beach teammate and prospective fellow draftee, first baseman Nick Pratto.
The fact that the two have been local celebrities for more than a half-decade has made the attention that naturally goes along with pre-Draft hype much more bearable. The fact that they could be selected by Major League organizations in the same year? Just the beginning of dreams coming true.
"It's cool seeing Nick and knowing that we were on the same team as 7-year-olds, and we were succeeding at that age," Danner says. "Seeing us get bigger and stronger now and watching him crush balls over the fence and throwing harder … the game is a lot more fun."
It could get even more fun soon. While Danner has already committed to UCLA -- and Pratto to USC -- both are likely to sign if they are drafted in the top rounds. Then the next adventure will begin.
Medure says the maturity both players have developed over the course of their baseball journey can only help as they inch closer to the biggest stage in the game. Medure says Danner, in particular, is as gifted as he is tireless in pursuit of his craft.
"I've known him since he was 9 years old, and it's always seemed like that arm has been electric, even as a little kid," Medure says.
"And now putting that arm on a grown man, an 18-year-old man, as he develops his lower half and gets bigger and stronger, it's only going to get stronger and more electric as he moves up."
Danner says he still needs to improve on the command and location of his pitches, and that getting one or two more pitches in his arsenal will help.
"And for hitting, probably just consistent hitting instead of just [being] a power guy," Danner says. "I'd like to keep consistently hitting."
Other than that, Danner says any Major League club that picks him will get the real deal.
"A guy that loves the game of baseball and loves to have fun with the game and will work hard," Danner says. "If things go bad, he'll stay positive. That's kind of how I am."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.