The off-season has already been newsworthy for the Milwaukee Brewers through two days, but one announcement hasn’t really been a headline grabber. Monday the Brewers announced they signed middle infielder Jake Hager to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
The Sierra Vista High School product was drafted in the 1st round, 32nd overall of the 2011 Amateur Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. Jake Hager climbed up to Triple-A in the Rays organization before being granted his release following the 2017 season. Hager signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on February 20th, 2018 and played in three games with the Major League team at Maryvale.
Hager, broke camp with the Double-A, Biloxi Shuckers and turned in an impressive Brewers organization debut in the Southern League, hitting .292/.371/.521 with 10 home runs in 257 plate appearances at Double-A Biloxi. He collected 18 doubles and 40 runs batted in before being promoted to Colorado Springs.
His numbers declined slightly in Triple-A, hitting .267/.301/.379 in just 121 plate appearances. However, Hager did make some news in mid-July when he had his third five-hit game in his career against Round Rock.
It is Hager’s defense however that makes him an addition to the roster this spring. He was scouted by Matt Arnold, while the Assistant General Manager was with the Rays organization, primarily because he has great hands, versatile and works extremely hard. During his seven years in the minors, he has a .960 field percentage. Last season he had a .974 fielding percentage with just 10 errors in 362 chances between second base and shortstop.
Hager did have an undisclosed injury in 2014, toughed it, but opted to not play in 2015 to have surgery. He hasn’t showed any lingering affects though.
How would he fit on the team?
With seven seasons in the Minors and no Major League experience on his resume, he has a bit of a Nate Orf persona. Fair comparison would be Tyler Saladino who after moving down to Triple-A hit .262/.370/.408 in 151 plate appearances. Hager will enter 2019 at just 26, same age as Saladino when he made his debut for the White Sox in 2015.
Hager will have to show that his stroke at Double-A can carry over into Spring but could provide depth in the middle infield for Orlando Arica and whoever the Milwaukee Brewers decide will player at second in 2019. Nice to see though that after announcing the re-signing Jake took to Instagram to announce that he was very excited about continuing his career in the Brewers organization. Also not hard to not root for a guy that dressed like the Riddler for Halloween.