DENVER -- Let’s learn more than the stat tables and scouting reports attached to Jameson Hannah, the left-handed-hitting outfield prospect whom the Rockies acquired last week in a trade with the Reds.
The pair of hurlers in the deal (new Rockies right-hander Robert Stephenson and new Reds righty Jeff Hoffman) can be assessed through a trail of Major League performances, game footage, interviews and multiple stories that pop up via search engines.
As for Hannah, Colorado's No. 14 prospect per MLB Pipeline, he's made the most of being overlooked. And he made the most of 2020, a year heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, on the field and off.
Hannah played at Flower Mound High School in Dallas. From his freshman season in 2012, through his senior season of '15, the Jaguars sent 17 players to NCAA Division I programs. Another 13 went to lower-division or two-year schools.
Hannah was the right kind of recruit for Dallas Baptist University, which only plays in Division I for baseball. By doing its homework on players overlooked by big-name schools, Dallas Baptist has been a habitual producer of NCAA Tournament teams and pro prospects.
“I’d say in high school, I was kind of a smaller guy and we had some bigger names at our school, so I got under-recruited,” Hannah said. “But I was more than happy to spend my three years at Dallas Baptist, and that’s what molded me into the player I am today.”
Of the 22 players from his high school who have been drafted since 2005, Hannah was the earliest at No. 50 overall, as he went to the A's at that pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.
Hannah is also cool with having been traded twice.
“I’ve been preparing for that question -- it’s my third organization, but it’s good to be wanted,” Hannah said. “You never see it coming, but obviously, it’s a business. But I’m just happy that the Rockies gave me an opportunity.”
Not invited to the Reds’ alternate training site in 2020, Hannah took advantage of living in a baseball hotbed.
“I have some local guys, some guys from school, some strength guys and some professional players that are in the Minor Leagues," Hannah said. "The right guys to help me improve. Not necessarily big names, but guys with the will to take that next step."
When Hannah showed up for Cincinnati's instructional league, Colorado pro scout Ty Coslow saw that he was stronger (he went up from roughly 187 pounds last year to around 195 this fall). The extra bat speed, coupled with an already solid hitting approach, caught the Rockies’ eyes.
“[Coslow] described him as having a sturdy build, athletic lines, good shoulders, tapered features -- he comped him to a Garret Anderson type of player,” Rockies assistant general manager-player personnel Jon Weil said.
Hannah clearly had a strong performance in Arizona, but with the instructional league essentially in a bubble, there weren't stats available, like there would have been for the Arizona Fall League, which didn't take place this year.
“We didn’t get the numbers in instructs, so it’s kind of hard to base anything off my 2019 season,” Hannah said. “But I just wanted to focus on my timing. If my timing is on point, then my swing is on point.”
Over 133 Minor League games (none above Class A Advanced), Hannah’s .340 on-base percentage stands out. It’s one reason that, with normal progress, he could be on the radar for a Major League callup in 2021.
“You can add a guy to your organization that has the on-base skills that he has and knows how to use his tools in an appropriate way -- he doesn’t come out of who he is,” Rockies assistant GM-player development Zach Wilson said. “Approach is such an important part of who all our hitters need to be.”
Hannah's build is different, but general manager Jeff Bridich saw some similarities to Seth Smith, who played for the Rockies from 2007-11.
“Seth was a really good hitter in Minor League Baseball who hit a bunch of doubles and was driving the ball all over the ballpark and found his power once he got to the big leagues and learned how to lift the ball and when to lift the ball,” Bridich said.
Not playing a Minor League season in 2020 allowed Hannah to work toward a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. The major dovetails with Hannah’s study of his swing and patterns through technology, such as Rapsodo and HitTrax. But his priority is applying that knowledge on the field.
“I’m enrolled right now -- the season was canceled, so this was the best time to try to wrap up my schooling,” Hannah said. “I’m close. I’ll finish this semester right now, and we’ll see what I have left.
“But I’m not really looking to taking classes during the baseball season. I have other priorities.”