||Born: August 20, 1985
Height: 6′ 3″
Drafted: 9th Round, 264th Overall, 2008
How Acquired: Draft
College: Oklahoma State
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Hague spent his first three collegiate years at Washington, was drafted 11th by the Indians in 2007 but didn’t sign, then transferred to Oklahoma State. He also played the outfield and Baseball America believed he’d fit better in RF, as he has a good arm. He consistently showed good power and plate discipline in college, and hit well in the wood bat Cape Cod League. As college seniors generally do, Hague signed quickly. As a pro he eventually moved to first, where he’s adequate. He’s become a hitter with excellent contact skills who hits for average and gap power, but only modest HR power. In every single pro season before 2012 he had a reverse platoon split. He’s been old for his leagues and doesn’t run well.
Started off at State College, but didn’t stay there long. The Pirates loaded up in the 2008 draft on thirdbasemen and shortstops, and one of the latter, Chase d’Arnaud, played more third than short in college. Once d’Arnaud and Jordy Mercer signed, State College was overloaded on the left side of the infield. The Pirates relieved the congestion by promoting Hague, who was off to a good start, and Mercer to Hickory. Coincidentally, Hickory’s thirdbaseman, Bobby Spain, who was also off to a good start, went out for the season with a broken wrist at about the same time. Hague got off to a very fast start at Hickory. He didn’t sustain it, but his hitting remained solid the rest of the year. It was mainly his power that dropped off, as he hit all but one of his six HRs in the first couple weeks. His OPS was 240 points higher against RHPs than LHPs. He struggled at third, with an unsightly .891 fielding percentage.
With Pedro Alvarez at Lynchburg, Hague opened the season playing first and stayed there all year except for one game at third. He had a disappointing season at the plate, as he hit for average and continued to show good plate discipline, but had only eight HRs. His .412 slugging percentage isn’t adequate for a 23-year-old firstbaseman playing in class A. Hague again hit RHPs better than LHPs, with all of his HRs coming against the former.
Hague moved up to Altoona and made modest progress in the power department. His walk and K numbers were excellent. He didn’t hit for much power early, with only three HRs total in April and May, but hit a dozen in last three months. He again had a reverse platoon split. He played only one game at third, the rest at first.
Hague continued to improve at Indianapolis. The improvement can be traced entirely to a huge month of June, when he hit 402/449/645. His reverse platoon split started to even out, as he had an OPS of .810 against LHPs and .836 against RHPs, with more power against the former. He also had 15 errors at first, which is a concern. He played 17 games at third and had only two errors, as the Pirates probably were readying him to compete for a role like the one Steve Pearce played when he was healthy in 2011. He did not get a September callup. The ostensible reason was a lack of available playing time, yet as it turned out the team ended up using anemic hitters like Matt Pagnozzi and Xavier Paul as pinch hitters. Just the same, they added Hague to the 40-man roster after the season.
Hague went into spring training as a longshot to make the team, but he had a huge spring, including seven HRs. He ended up seemingly competing with Yamaico Navarro and Josh Harrison for the last two roster spots, but all three made it when the Pirates decided to take advantage of a number of early-season off days and go with just four starting pitchers and seven relievers. Hague was the one sent down when the Pirates needed a fifth starter. He came back up in late May for a month, playing semi-regularly at first as Casey McGehee was playing in place of the injured Pedro Alvarez at third. Hague did little in the majors and also took a step backward in the minors. He struggled initially once he was sent down, hitting .222 in April. He eventually came around and hit .294 for the rest of the minor league season, but his power nearly disappeared. He continued to make consistent contact, but his walk rate also dropped off. For the first time, he had a conventional platoon split, posting a .744 OPS against LHPs and .656 against RHPs in the minors. He did not get a September callup.
Hague played first every day for Indianapolis, aside from a few games at third. He showed much-improved patience, but otherwise had almost exactly the same season as he’d had in 2011, minus that one great month. He had a conventional platoon split again, posting an .865 OPS against LHPs and .760 against RHPs. He was remarkably consistent; his OPS was between .703 and .771 every month except May, when it was .933. That was mainly due to the fact that he hit five of his eight HRs that month. He again did not get a September callup.
Hague won’t be eligible for minor league free agency for another year, so he’ll return to Indianapolis in 2014. Hague has good hitting skills, but a .407 slugging average as a 27-year-old first baseman in AAA isn’t the mark of a potential major league player. It’ll be interesting to see what the Pirates do with Hague. Their search for a left-handed counterpart to Gaby Sanchez has resulted in both Andrew Lambo and Chris McGuiness opening the 2014 season at Indianapolis, which probably will take up all the time at first. Hague was playing third in spring training, but Indianapolis figures to have Brent Morel, who’s probably injury insurance for Pedro Alvarez, at the hot corner. That leaves Hague without a regular role, although he’ll be at Indy to start the season.
UPDATE: Hague had a good season in AAA, significantly increasing his power production. When the Pirates needed to bring up a hitter in July, they added Hague back to the roster rather than call up the struggling Morel. Hague got two at-bats before the Pirates optioned him back to AAA. In mid-August, the Pirates designated him for assignment when they claimed John Axford off waivers.
|2014: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $25,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 4/7/2012
MiLB FA Eligible: 2014
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2011
Added to 40-Man: 11/18/2011
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2012)
MLB Service Time: 0.054
|June 8, 2007: Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 11th round, 347th overall pick.
June 6, 2008: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 9th round, 264th overall pick; signed on June 14.
November 18, 2011: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 27, 2012: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to AAA on November 30.
July 9, 2014: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
August 14, 2014: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.