PEORIA, Ariz. -- Robert Hassell III has had his Arizona Fall League season cut short due to a broken hamate in his right hand.
Acquired from the Padres in the Juan Soto blockbuster, the top-ranked Nationals prospect had come to the Fall League to get some more work in, but the recurring hand injury flared up in his second game with the Peoria Javelinas. The 21-year-old outfielder left mid-game on Oct. 5 and hadn’t played since, going 1-for-6 in his limited action.
The Nationals confirmed the injury Wednesday night, saying Hassell underwent surgery on his hand, he's doing well and is expected to be 100 percent and ready to go for Spring Training in 2023.
Hassell, MLB's No. 22 prospect, was the Padres’ first pick in the 2020 Draft, taken eighth overall out of the Tennessee high school ranks. In his first full season of pro ball in 2021, he looked very much like the potential plus hitter he was billed to be coming out of high school, hitting .303/.393/.470 and reaching High-A in the process. He was selected for the 2022 Futures Game and was hitting .299/.379/.467 in High-A when the Padres sent him to the Nationals in the Soto deal.
The left-handed hitter didn’t perform as well post-trade as he tried to play through the hand injury, though the Nationals did eventually move him up to Double-A to allow him to experience that level. In 37 combined games, Hassell posted a .219/.311/.281 line. He struck out an uncharacteristic 47 times in 167 plate appearances (28.1 percent), up from his 20.6 percent strikeout rate for his pro career to date. The hope was that time in Arizona would help Hassell end the year on a good note and prepare him for the upper levels in 2023.