June 25, 2024

Among the five non-roster pitchers invited to the Red Sox’s major-league spring training on Friday, only one stands out for not being drafted by the team. Justin Hagenman, unlike Luis Guerrero, Alex Hoppe, A.J. Politi, and Chase Shugart, didn’t join the Red Sox through the draft. Instead, Hagenman became part of the organization through a trade last July, where veteran utility player Enrique Hernandez was sent back to the Dodgers.

Hagenman, aged 27, was initially chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 23rd round of the 2018 amateur draft from Penn State. The New Jersey native signed with the Dodgers for a modest amount of $75,000 and commenced his professional career in the Pioneer League later that summer.

Although Justin Hagenman served exclusively as a starter during his three seasons at State College, he underwent a transition to a more prominent relief role upon entering professional baseball. As a right-hander, he steadily progressed through the Dodgers’ system and concluded the 2022 season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he also started the 2023 campaign.

Before being traded to the Red Sox on July 25, along with fellow right-hander Nick Robertson, Hagenman had an impressive performance with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in the Pacific Coast League. He maintained a 2.78 ERA and a 4.79 FIP, recording 60 strikeouts and allowing only 11 walks in 25 appearances, including five starts, covering 55 innings.

In contrast to Robertson, who made his debut with Los Angeles earlier in the year and played nine games with Boston before being traded to the Cardinals in December, Hagenman spent the remainder of the 2023 season with Triple-A Worcester. Over 16 relief appearances for the WooSox, he posted a 3.26 ERA and a 5.25 FIP, striking out 28 while issuing 14 walks in 30 1/3 innings. Notably, he limited opposing hitters to a .232 batting average, particularly excelling in September by allowing just one run in his final 12 2/3 innings of the season.

In the 2023 season, Justin Hagenman showcased an impressive performance between the Dodgers’ and Red Sox’s top affiliates. He achieved a perfect 6-0 record with a 2.95 ERA (4.95 FIP) and amassed 88 strikeouts while issuing 25 walks across 41 total appearances, which included five starts, covering 85 1/3 innings pitched. Notably, he successfully converted both of his save opportunities, securing one at each stop.

Hagenman demonstrated a noticeable split in his effectiveness against right-handed and left-handed hitters, with a lower OPS against righties (.619) compared to lefties (.807).

Among the 91 pitchers who pitched 80 or more innings at the Triple-A level in 2023, Hagenman ranked impressively in various categories according to FanGraphs. He stood out as 22nd in strikeouts per nine innings (9.28), 10th in walks per nine innings (2.64), 11th in strikeout rate (25.4 percent), 17th in walk rate (7.2 percent), seventh in batting average against (.228), third in WHIP (1.15), first in left-on-base percentage (91 percent), second in ERA, 33rd in FIP, and 20th in xFIP (4.70).

Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 205 pounds, Justin Hagenman employs a low three-quarters arm slot and utilizes a four-pitch repertoire. His arsenal includes a 92-94 mph fastball with arm-side run, a low-80s slider known for inducing swings and misses, a mid-80s changeup, and an occasional cutter.

While all of Hagenman’s pitches are considered fringy to below-average, he compensates with above-average control and effective execution, as pointed out by Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser. Despite the perceived limitations in pitch quality, Hagenman demonstrates an ability to consistently fill up the strike zone.

Currently 27 years old and not turning 28 until October, Hagenman is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Worcester’s bullpen at the beginning of the 2024 season. It’s worth noting that he will become eligible for both the Rule 5 Draft and minor-league free agency next winter, potentially providing him with opportunities to secure a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster in the near future based on his performance.

In addition to Hagenman, the Red Sox added eight other non-roster invitees to their spring training roster. This includes catchers Nathan Hickey, Mark Kolozsvary, Roberto Perez, and Stephen Scott, infielders Chase Meidroth, Nick Sogard, and Nick Yorke, as well as outfielder Corey Rosier.

Red Sox invite righty from Kiké Hernández trade to spring training

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