Haley one of Indians' top prospects

Published on Sunday, 9 September 2012 01:09 - Written by David Driver

BOWIE, Md. — Trey Haley said it took nearly 18 months for his sports hernia injury to be properly diagnosed.

Now the minor league pitcher is making for up for lost time in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system.

Haley, who began this season in the Class A Carolina League, had surgery June 5 for his sports hernia injury. After rehab in Arizona he went back to Carolina, the high Class A affiliate of Cleveland. He was on the DL from May 30 to July 13.

“Honestly, I feel good about how the year went, except for the surgery,” he said, standing outside of the Akron Aeros clubhouse before Thursday’s Eastern League playoff game with host Bowie. “I am throwing a lot more strikes.”

On Aug. 3, the Nacogdoches Central Heights High School graduate was promoted to the Class AA level with the Aeros. Haley was 3-1 with an ERA of 1.79 in nine games out of the bullpen for Akron, which won the Eastern Division title in the Eastern League and began the playoffs with a 4-2 loss here Wednesday against the Bowie Baysox.

“He has responded well. He has shown good progress,” Akron manager Chris Tremie said of Haley. “He has a big arm.”

Haley pitched one inning, the sixth, here on Thursday against Bowie in Game 2 of the Eastern League playoffs. He had allowed one run and one hit with one walk and two strikeouts and was charged with a blown save. Akron eventually lost, 7-5, as Bowie took a 2-0 lead in the series. Akron bounced back to even the series at 2-2 with wins on Friday (4-3) and Saturday (2-1). Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday in Akron, Ohio.

The Eastern League finals are slated to begin Tuesday, Sept. 11. The other semifinal has Trenton leading Reading 2-1.

Haley, 22, from Nacogdoches, was a second-round pick of the Indians out of high school in 2008 and turned down a scholarship to Rice to sign with Cleveland. “It was definitely tough,” he said of that decision. “My family helped me through that process.”

The 6-foot-3 right-hander was 4-8 with an ERA of 5.56 in his first full season in 2009 in the low Class A South Atlantic League and entered this season with a lifetime pro mark of 10-21, 5.58 in 78 games, with 47 starts.

But he has turned things around as he entered this season as the No. 16 prospect in the Cleveland system. He still has control issues at times but Haley has posted impressive numbers this year.

“He has learned from his experiences,” Tremie said. “He goes about his business the right way. He is a worker.”

What did he learn of his early pro struggles? “It is a job in a sense. You have to live for that. If you don’t you won’t be successful,” Haley said. “I had to find what worked with my routine.”

Haley was 0-0, 1.04 in 12 games with two saves in the Carolina League before he was sent to Akron. “I expected to come here at some point,” said Haley, who throws a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s with a curve, slider and change he rarely uses.

He gave up 10 hits in 15.1 innings in regular-season play and held opposing hitters to an average of .189 with 23 strikeouts and 11 walks with Akron.

What is the difference in hitters from Class A to Class AA? “I feel like they have more of an approach,” he said of Eastern League hitters. “They look for pitches in a certain zone. If you miss a location they will put a good swing on it.”

After regular-season play Haley is headed to the Arizona Fall League, a top circuit for prospects which runs until mid-November.

“It is a great opportunity to go out there,” he said.

His brother, Hunter, is a freshman with the baseball program at the University of Oklahoma.

Editor’s note: David Driver is a free-lance writer in Maryland and can be reached atwww.davidsdriver.com