Of the hard-throwing relievers acquired by the Mets in exchange for veterans over the final two months of the 2017 season, Eric Hanhold understandably received the least fanfare. Three of the pitchers—Jacob Rhame, Gerson Bautista, and Stephen Nogosek—found themselves in MLB Pipeline’s top-30 prospect list, while Rhame and another, Jamie Callahan, made their major league debuts in September.
Through the minor league season’s first week, Hanhold, the return in the trade of Neil Walker, is making sure Mets fans learn his name sooner rather than later.
As a player to be named later, Hanhold wasn’t officially sent over until September 12, when the minor league season had concluded. That meant the 24-year-old had to wait over 200 days to make his organizational debut.
When he did take the field as a member of the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Hanhold was up for the part, facing five batters and retiring them all. In his second outing, Tuesday night against Akron, he yielded his first three baserunners but recorded four of his six outs via the strikeout.
Hanhold’s fastball has sat in the mid-to-upper-90s early in the season, occasionally touching an outstanding 99 mph. It makes you wonder where his velocity will be as the weather in Binghamton warms up. He’s had a penchant for inducing ground balls throughout his career, leading the Carolina League with a 58.6% grounder rate in 2017, and so far, coaxing six balls on the ground to one in the air in his 3.2 Double-A innings.
While 30 of his first 36 professional appearances were starts, Hanhold has found tremendous success since converting to a full-time, late-inning reliever. Over his final 24 outings in 2017, spanning 42 relief innings, he allowed six earned runs, struck out 42, walked 13, and held opponents to a .222 clip.
So while it’s warranted that the likes of Bautista, Callahan, and Rhame are making the top prospect lists, Hanhold is making sure his name doesn’t go unnoticed.