Brian O’Connor has seen plenty of talent come through the ranks at the University of Virginia since taking over in 2004.
He saw Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Reynolds before they became stars at the next level, and he’ll be the first to tell you that the Phillies first-round pick on Monday, Adam Haseley, is right there with those guys.
“As far as performance in the ACC and for the University of Virginia, Adam is right up there as far as how he performed for us and his development as a player,” O’Connor said over the phone. “I think he’s a guy that hopefully it doesn’t take too long to get to the major leagues. He’s a guy that can play there for a long time.
“I think the sky is the limit for him.”
O’Connor made an interesting point when discussing how Haseley will fair when making the jump to his likely destination in Lakewood (A). Since Haseley was a two-way player for Virginia, having played both center field and pitcher, he never worked out with the position players, instead using the workout regimen of the pitchers.
Basically, he wasn’t doing the heavy lifting that his fellow outfielders were doing. That, though, will change as he finally transitions to a full-time position player who can now amp up his workouts.
“He’s going to get a lot stronger because he’s been a two-way player for us,” O’Connor said, noting how he only lifted with the pitchers. “Now that he’s able to transition and just be a position player, I think he can physically get a lot stronger which can really enhance his game.”
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That really ups the ante for Haseley, who already made tremendous strides in his power numbers as a junior, belting 14 homers with 56 RBI in 58 games.
Imagine him concentrating more on strength-building as opposed to the endurance and flexibility that pitchers focus more on?
O’Connor recalls about a quarter of the way into this past season, seeing how Haseley had hit seven home runs with six of those going the opposite way. It was then that he realized just how far along he had come.
“When he started to do it on a consistent basis, I was like ‘All right, he now has taken a step to where he can do this at a very high level,’” O’Connor said.
So how fast will Haseley rise through the ranks?
That’ll fall on his shoulders now, but if O’Connor has learned anything about the once highly touted high school prospect, it’s that he’s as focused as any player as he’s ever seen, even including the likes of Zimmerman and Reynolds.
“This guy’s poise, his ability to handle big situations, to handle one at-bat to the next, is really advanced,” O’Connor said. “For somebody to move through the minor leagues and ultimately have success at the highest level, I think those are skills you have to have … there’s no doubt to what he has to do, he has a lot of conviction in what he has to do to be successful.”