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. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'


    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.