Hauver savors 'surreal' homecoming in AFL tilt at ASU
PHOENIX -- It’s often said that you can’t go home again, but Trevor Hauver found himself back at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where he starred for Arizona State over three seasons, on Saturday night. This time, he was donning a big league uniform while playing as a member of the Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.
Hauver wasted little time showcasing the talent that not only helped turn him into a Sun Devil but made him a third-round choice in the 2020 MLB Draft. The left-handed-hitting outfielder promptly swatted a run-scoring single off a southpaw in the first to kick off the scoring of what was an eventual 12-9 loss to Mesa.
But the left-on-left showdown was no ordinary one: It featured Hauver against a former ASU teammate, Justin Fall, whom Miami nabbed in the 17th round of the 2021 Draft.
“I saw on the report that we were facing him, and I was just like, ‘Oh, wow, this is going to be fun,'” Hauver said postgame with a smile.
Normally a supremely patient hitter, Hauver attacked the second pitch of the at-bat on the outside edge and found grass down the left-field line.
True to his approach, Hauver’s return to his old haunt also included a pair of walks. The 23-year-old finished 14th across the Minors in free passes (93) during 2022, managing to draw better than one base on balls per outing over his 21-game stint with Double-A Frisco; at the level, he walked (24) more than he struck out (22).
“I like to definitely look for my pitch,” Hauver said. “If I don’t get it, I usually won’t swing at it. So today, I was taking some swings because I was here at ASU and the ball was flying a little bit, but then I just toned it down and got pitches I could handle.”
Hauver, a native of Chandler, Ariz., and attendee of Perry High School in neighboring Gilbert, ramped up his compete level a bit in front of a handful of friends and family in attendance. His most recent time playing at the home of the Sun Devils was just before the pandemic shutdown in 2020, leaving him with a longing to return to the home of the five-time national champions.
“It’s surreal,” Hauver said. “It’s funny being back here because I know our season got cut short in 2020 and we had a really good team. I didn’t think I was going to be able to play on this field again. But now, being back here wearing this jersey -- being with the players on this field -- is just super cool to be out here to support the Rangers.”
This season marked Hauver’s first full campaign in the Rangers organization since coming aboard as part of the Joey Gallo deal in July 2021. Known for his pop and confidence while in the box, he immediately jumped to High-A Hickory after the trade, then graduated to Frisco ahead of the club’s Texas League title run this fall. Across his two stops in 2022, Hauver hit just .220 but slugged 17 home runs and collected 70 RBIs while notching a .387 on-base percentage.
“Super fun,” Hauver said of Year 1 in the Texas organization. “Everyone was welcoming, had a lot of fun with all the guys. Whole new staff, all new players and they just welcomed me with open arms.”
As Hauver alluded, the ball soared into the Phoenix night with frequency during the final leg of Saturday's AFL tripleheader. Surpise and Mesa combined for five homers, but arguably the most impressive came from No. 10 Cubs prospect Owen Caissie, who teed off for the first time during the fall circuit. The lefty-swinging slugger drove in four runs and added a stolen base for the Solar Sox, who had six different players notch multihit efforts.