Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays prospect Hahn puts arm injury behind

PORT CHARLOTTE — Jesse Hahn is a hard-throwing right-hander with a fastball that routinely reaches 95 mph. His other pitches — a curve, slider and changeup — tend to cross the plate with uncanny and merciless accuracy.

Hahn uses that arsenal to mow down batters with efficiency as a starter for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Rays' advanced Class A affiliate. His statistics are impressive: a 1.23 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 44 innings. Those numbers are a big reason Hahn will be part of the pitching staff for the South Division in tonight's Florida State League All-Star Game in Dunedin.

His selection comes despite not recording a win in 13 starts.

That's by design.

Three years ago, Hahn had elbow surgery, and to protect his long-term baseball health, the Rays imposed a limit on the number of innings he would pitch in each start. Hahn went three innings each outing to begin the season. He has since been extended to four. But no matter how well he pitches when he starts, he won't meet the five-inning requirement to qualify for a win.

"I can't go into games thinking about the fact I'm not going to get a win," Hahn said. "My whole mind-set is to go out there and post zeroes. That's my job."

At Virginia Tech, Hahn was a prized pitching prospect who had first-round potential. But in his final start of the 2010 season, he lasted only three innings. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which required elbow-ligament replacement, or Tommy John, surgery.

Hahn tumbled to the sixth round, where the Rays selected him in the 2010 amateur draft. They gave him a $525,000 signing bonus despite a surgical detour that would require Hahn to miss the 2011 season.

"I was real frustrated at the time," he said. "My injury happened two days before the draft. I didn't know where I would be selected or if a team would even take a chance on me. I'm just so thankful the Rays gave me an opportunity."

Hahn went through a grueling rehab while watching others from his draft class climb the ladder of their organizations. One of Hahn's high school teammates from Connecticut, Matt Harvey, is now an established starter with the Mets.

"The delay was hard to deal with," Hahn said. "I knew it was going to be a long rehab, and a long time coming back. The biggest challenge was seeing people who I've grown up with for years progress a lot faster. I just knew I had to be patient."

Hahn also had to relearn the craft of pitching. He redefined his mechanics, perfecting his command and location rather than having some personal duel with the radar gun.

"What basically led to the surgery was bad pitching mechanics," Hahn said. "We've cleaned all that up, and I've learned how to become a better pitcher, not just a thrower. I've also learned how to get through soreness and discomfort."

It didn't take long for Hahn to become dominant again. Last season, he was 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA while striking out 55 batters in 52 innings at Class A Hudson Valley.

This year, Hahn is more polished, posting a 22-inning scoreless streak that ended Thursday when he gave up three runs in four innings.

"Jesse has the stuff to move up pretty quickly," Stone Crabs manager Brady Williams said. "He's able to pitch in any situation, and he finds a way to make quality pitches. He's able to deal with the innings limit, and anything else that's thrown his way. He gets it. He understands what this is all about."

Hahn is supposed to be stretched to five innings in the second half of the season, which will allow him to start picking up wins. There is no set timetable on when he will advance another level.

"I'm satisfied with how quickly I've been able to come back," Hahn said. "But I don't think I'll be completely satisfied until I make it to the big leagues."

Florida State League All-Star Game

When/where: 7:05 tonight; Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin

Tickets: $8-$12

Rays prospect Hahn puts arm injury behind 06/14/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support


    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)