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Mitch Haniger stays hot, homers in AFL Saturday

If he keeps this up it's going to draw a lot of attention.

2012 supplemental round pick Mitch Haniger's hot start to the Arizona Fall League continued on Saturday night, as he hit a three-run home run in the first inning of Surprise's 7-0 win over Glendale. Haniger was one of five Brewers to appear in the game, and went 1-for-3 with two walks and three RBI. Here's a quick breakdown of the others:

Player Pos Line
Jason Rogers LF 1-for-4, BB, R
Adam Weisenberger DH 1-for-4, 2 RBI
Kevin Shackelford P Scoreless eighth inning, 1 BB
Tyler Cravy P Scoreless ninth inning, 1 BB, 1 K

With all due respect to the other talents in attendance, Haniger has been the story of the fall league so far for Brewers fans. After last night's game he's hitting .394/.475/.667 in nine AFL games and leads or is tied for the prospect league lead with 13 hits, eight runs scored and 12 RBI.

Now, obviously a couple of caveats apply here:

  • First, the sample size is pretty small. We're talking about nine games at this point.
  • Second, this league has a reputation for inflating hitting stats. Through ten games the AFL league average is a .347 OBP. Teams are averaging better than 5.1 runs per game, which is more than, for example, the 2013 Pacific Coast League (4.83).

Here's a quick chart to put those run-scoring numbers in perspective:

League Level 2013 R/G
Arizona Fall League 5.13
Pacific Coast League AAA 4.83
Southern League AA 3.93
Florida State League A+ 4.15
Midwest League A 4.47

With that said, just the fact that Haniger has gotten to play in nine of ten games for a team with top prospects from six organizations is encouraging. And the fact that he's had some success will draw attention from more than just the 481 fans that attended last night's game.

Some of you will likely recall that Josh Prince lit up the AFL last year, hitting .404/.491/.573 in 25 games. Prince was later added to the Brewers 40-man roster and made his MLB debut in 2013. Haniger's situation is somewhat similar as both he and Prince had never played above High-A in their AFL seasons, but Prince was already a four-year professional at that point. Haniger has played just 143 minor league games since being drafted last year, and 129 of those came this season.

No matter what happens from here, though, Haniger has given Brewer fans something to get excited about this fall. Here's a quick glance at how his teammates are performing with Surprise:

Player Games Stat line
Jason Rogers 7 18 AB, .278/.435/.333, 2 SB
Adam Weisenburger 3 10 AB, .100/.250/.100, 2 RBI
Tyler Cravy 4 5.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3 BB, 2 K
Kevin Shackelford 4 4 IP, 6.75 ERA, 3 BB, 5 K
David Goforth 4 3.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 4 K
Taylor Jungmann 1 3,0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 4 K