Drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 draft, Jesse Hahn has spent the majority of his professional career either injured or rehabbing, so you are forgiven if you haven't kept tabs on, or even heard of him. There's a lot to like, despite the limited looks scouts have gotten on Hahn. Despite being a 6th round pick, Tampa Bay clearly thought a lot of Hahn, inking him for a well over-slot $525,000. He was a potential 1st round pick before coming down with elbow issues that dropped him to the 6th round. Hahn underwent Tommy John surgery before even debuting, and then suffered a broken foot that delayed his debut just a little bit more.
He finally did debut in 2012, starting 14 games and throwing 52 highly impressive innings. He limited New York-Penn League batters to 38 hits in those 52 innings, along with 55 strikeouts against only 15 walks. He finished the year with a sparkling 2.77 ERA. The downside to those terrific numbers is that Hahn was in his age-22 season, and only pitching in short-season ball. There's obviously good reason for that, given his injury history, and yet if we're going to hold others to the standard of age versus level, we must do so for Hahn as well. The notoriously slow-moving Rays did skip Hahn all the way to Hi-A to begin 2013, so while he's still mature for the level, it's at least an improvement. As always, sample sizes from 2013 are far too small to draw significant meaning from, however they do provide an update on what has happened as opposed to informing us on what might happen going forward. To that end, Hahn has thrown 9 innings (as of this writing - he pitches Monday night), striking out 11, walking one and allowing only six hits. All of that good work could be wiped away with one bad outing, so don't put too much stock into the stats, what matters is how Hahn is getting it done.
We can certainly knock Hahn for being too old for his level, but it's also worth considering the lack of development time he's received due to the injuries. He's at an advantage in being more physically mature than his competition, but in the developmental process, Hahn is well behind pitchers who are much younger than he is. Prospects like this put the parent organization in a difficult spot. They need to rush the prospect a bit to make sure that the quality of competition is valid enough that they can see what they have, while at the same time making sure the prospect can handle the jump in competition both mentally and physically. Hahn attacks hitters with a big fastball that sits in the mid 90s and can touch 99 MPH. He also throws a two-seamer with good weight and sink to it, ranging from 91-96 MPH. These are potential plus-plus offerings. But, like any infomercial worth it's weight, that's not all. Hahn complements his fastballs with a curveball that flashes plus. When it's right, it features sharp vertical break. Like many a pitching prospect, Hahn's change up lags behind his other pitches, but he's shown the ability to throw an average change with some depth to it, and has fiddled with a slider as he's gaining distance from his surgery.
If he's able to continue making improvements, Hahn could be something of a fast mover (relative to other Tampa prospects), though he's still a ways away from the majors. The fastball is a dominant pitch, and if he shows the requisite make up, Hahn might be looking at a promotion mid-season, though given the parent organization that might be too much to ask. His age is already working against him though, so it remains in the cards. Health is paramount to any type of promotion though, and if he stays healthy, we're looking at a potential number two starter with three above average pitches (if you count both types of fastball) and the potential for two more average ones in his change and slider.