Position: RP B/T: R/R Age: 11/1/93 (25)
Acquired: Traded from the Milwaukee Brewers for Neil Walker in 2017
2018 Stats (Brooklyn, Binghamton, and Las Vegas): 5-3, 4.20 ERA, 35 G, GS, 8 SV, 49.1 IP, 1.277 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 10.4 K/9
The Mets did well to acquire a talented young reliever like Eric Hanhold from the Brewers for less than two months of Neil Walker. He was not officially named as the prospect to be sent to the Mets until September 12, 2017, so he didn’t wind up making his Mets organizational debut until the start of the 2018 season.
Hanhold pitched the bulk of the season in Double-A for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, where he posted a strong 2.84 ERA in 17 games to go along with 11.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.
His solid showing in Binghamton earned him a promotion to Las Vegas, where he wasn’t nearly as fortunate, struggling to a 7.11 ERA in 14 games. However, Cashman Field is (or was) a BABIP haven for hitters, and this clearly hurt Hanhold as evidenced by his .429 BABIP. His peripherals remained strong despite the harsh conditions, so his struggles in Las Vegas shouldn’t lead to too much cause for concern.
While Hanhold had a solid season, he did miss almost two months in the middle with an injury to his side. After going down on June 18, he returned in early August with some successful rehab outings for the GCL Mets and Brooklyn Cyclones. He continued pitching until his last appearance on September 9, when he strained his left oblique muscle and ended up being placed on the 60-day DL.
Hanhold also made his MLB debut in 2018. It was brief, as he gave up two runs in 2.1 innings over the span of three games. Despite the hurdles he faced and the chunk of time he missed, it was overall a solid season for Hanhold’s development, as he progressed from pitching well in Double-A to getting a small taste of the Majors.
Hanhold’s repertoire features a mid-90s bowling ball fastball and a wipeout slider which reaches the upper 80s. He also has a changeup that he uses occasionally, but his high-velocity fastball and slider are his bread and butter, and are the reason why he is able to post a strong strikeout rate. His hard sinking fastball make it almost impossible to lift, he allowed only two home runs in 49 innings last season and only three in 64 innings during the 2017 season.
The former Florida Gator (teammate of Peter Alonso, Harrison Bader, A.J. Puk) stands at 6’5″, 220 lbs, so his tall and strong frame allows him to generate a lot of velocity. It is reported that he has even topped 100 mph with his fastball, which also has some sinking action that produced a ground ball rate of over 60% in Binghamton this year.
Below, you can see Hanhold using an 89 mph slider to strike out Chris Taylor.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 5, 2018
He is still yet to find sustained success over a prolonged period of time in his professional career, so he has some figuring out to do, but the potential of his fastball-slider combination gives him a high ceiling for a reliever. The closest he’s come to that is his abbreviated Binghamton campaign this past season, where he showed in flashes just how good he can be. At 25, he’s still young, so there’s still plenty of room for growth.
Hanhold will very likely begin his 2019 campaign with the Syracuse Mets. It will be an important season for him, as now that he gets to pitch in a much more neutral environment, he needs to prove that he can be effective against Triple-A level hitters. A strong performance in Syracuse could very well lead to a longer look in the Mets bullpen, especially with their relative lack of bullpen depth at the Major League level.
Hanhold is the top-ranked relief prospect by MMN for a reason, so there’s every reason to believe that he can contribute to the Mets in the near future. One of the biggest keys for him this season will be to stay healthy so he can prove that he can be a consistent pitcher over a long stretch of time.