He may not be highly ranked yet, but Jacob Hannemann will become a common name in the prospect world sooner rather than later.
The 22-year-old outfielder was a somewhat surprising 2013 3rd round pick for the Chicago Cubs out of BYU. Hannemann was considered by most to be a reach by the Cubs in the 3rd round, but they paid him over-slot to make sure he signed. Hannemann has incredible athleticism and speed, which will probably allow him to stick in centerfield. At the plate, Hannemann shows some nice power potential and good contact skills, while his plate discipline could use some work. He was ranked as the 17th best prospect in a loaded Cubs’ system by Baseball America entering this season. They also listed him as the best athlete and fastest baserunner in the system.
Obviously Theo Epstein and his staff believe in Hannemann’s talent. In fact, soon after they drafted him, Cubs’ senior VP of scouting and player development Jason McLeod told CSNChicago.com that Hannemann was, “one of those guys we just had to have.” With comparisons to former Epstein and McLeod draftee Jacoby Ellsbury, it is easy to see Hannemann’s upside.
Before college, Hannemann was gone for two years on a Mormon mission. He then returned, playing defensive back for the BYU football team and outfield for their baseball team. Hannemann only played one season in college before getting drafted by the Cubs. He was completely away from the game for an entire two years, and stepped right in as a freshman to hit .344/.415/.553 with 14 steals in 15 attempts; that is impressive.
Hannemann has started this season with the Kane County Cougars at Low-A. I went to see the Cougars for myself, as they played a doubleheader on Saturday. In my opinion, Hannemann was the best player on the field at all times. He only went a combined 2-7 in the doubleheader, but Hannemann was always making an impact in the game. His baserunning was impressive, as he had three total stolen bases; one was on a pitchout, and another he stole 3B without a throw. Hannemann led off the second game with a long homerun to left-centerfield, made an incredible running catch late in the game that kept the Cougars alive, and scored the game winning run after he used his speed to get on after a dropped third strike.
Hannemann surprised me with his patience at the plate, as he seemed to do a nice job of working deep counts. That being said, he definitely struggled with low breaking pitches, as he chased them out of the zone many times. That is something that he obviously must work on as he grows as a player.
His skills are very raw, so his bust-potential is high. However, his athleticism and pure baseball skills are very impressive, and that gives him a chance to put it all together and become a star. I expect Hannemann to burst onto the prospect scene and become a legitimate top 10 contender for the Cubs’ list next season. At 22 years old, if he can clean up his game a bit, Hannemann could easily be fast-tracked to the big leagues.