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Speedy Orioles second-rounder Hudson Haskin ‘looking forward to getting started’ with pro career

On the first day of Hudson Haskin’s freshman year at Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, baseball coach Rob Dowling told the story of five of his former players and the paths they took. Haskin focused on one name in particular.

That player reached high school standing 5-feet-1 and weighing 110 pounds. He grew to become an All-American at the University of Connecticut, a first-round draft pick and, eventually, a three-time All-Star and World Series champion.

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Haskin, the Orioles’ second-round pick in the 2020 MLB draft, has never met Houston Astros outfielder George Springer but finds himself inspired by his fellow Avon alumnus regardless.

“He's kind of been somebody that I've looked towards as a benchmark and tried to push myself to accomplish half of what he has,” Haskin said during a video conference call Friday, a day after Baltimore took the Tulane outfielder with the 39th overall pick.

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“I can remember sitting there, I was 5-7, 135, and I was like, 'All right, I've got 6 inches and 25 pounds on him.' That's just been my mindset. If somebody's been successful in my shoes, there's no reason why I can't.”

Those shoes have grown to fit a 6-2, 198-pound center fielder who plays with plus speed and uses a unique swing to routinely hit the ball hard. Shortly after the season ended prematurely because of the coronavirus pandemic, he talked with Baltimore area scout David Jennings, then had a Zoom call with Orioles representatives in the leadup to the draft. He was unsure of the interest level of various teams or where he would fall in the draft. MLB Pipeline had him as the 74th best prospect available, while Baseball America ranked him 211th.

Instead, the Orioles plucked him with the second pick of the second round, a selection with a slot value of about $1.91 million. With the possibility of having three more years of college eligibility, Haskin said that he will likely sign with the organization and begin his professional career.

“If everything works out, I’m looking forward to getting started," he said.

At Avon, Haskin broke Springer’s record for career stolen bases, swiping 36 bags in 21 games while batting .515. After the Oakland Athletics drafted him in 2018’s 39th round, he headed to Tulane, where he hit .372/.459/.647 as a freshman with what he called an “unorthodox” swing.

“It’s been something that’s kind of evolved over time,” Haskin said. “I think as I get older, I now have an understanding of what works for me and ownership of, yeah, it may be a little unorthodox, but that’s what works for me and that’s how I’m comfortable hitting. It’s taken me 21 years to get to this point, but I feel really good with where I’m at now and where I need to be moving forward."

Part of a dynamic Green Wave offense that led the American Athletic Conference in several offensive categories, Haskin stole only four bases as a freshman, as Tulane’s avoidance of small ball caused him to minimize what he considers one of his greatest strengths. But in the wood-bat New England Collegiate Baseball League that summer, Haskin had 17 steals in 32 games while slashing .306/.340/.500.

The virus ended his sophomore campaign after 17 games, leaving him with a .333/.452/.500 batting line and 14 walks compared to 10 strikeouts. At 21 years old, he was eligible for the draft after only two seasons, leaving him unsure of what the shutdown’s impact would be on his stock.

“The whole world’s just kind of been on standstill for a bit,” he said. “I think for me, the biggest thing I took away from it is just how fragile life is and baseball specifically. It’s such a blessing to be able to play at a high level and go to a great school like Tulane, but it’s easy to take that for granted sometimes. This situation really just put it in perspective. It can be gone in a second."

But the Orioles thought highly of him. Given Haskin’s defensive acumen and speed, the Orioles are potentially acquiring a five-tool player, much like the Astros did when they took Springer in 2011.

“The first thing that stands out about him is the overall athleticism that he has,” said Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ supervisor of domestic scouting operation, during a video conference call Thursday. “He is a double-plus runner. We believe that he is going to stay in center field, and he also has a knack for barreling up the ball consistently.”

As much as the Orioles like Haskin, he likes them, too, saying he “couldn't think of a better fit." Growing up as a Yankees fan in New York City, he regularly watched the Orioles in American League East matchups, pointing to Adam Jones, Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters as players that made for “an exciting team.”

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“I can remember like it was yesterday watching all those games,” Haskin said. “To have the opportunity to potentially join that organization and continue that legacy is something I’m really looking forward to."

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