Electric Outfielder

Mariners' Halman combines power and speed

The best way to describe Peoria Javelina outfielder Greg Halman is to call him "electricity on the field." The Seattle Mariner farmhand hits with light tower power, runs with game-breaking speed, and roams the outfield like a gazelle.

Greg Halman
Halman, a native of the Netherlands, had a break-out year in 2008 when he hit a combined .272/.326/.528 with 29 homeruns and 31 stolen bases in a season split between high Class A and Double-A. Most importantly, his numbers did not drop significantly after leaving the hitter-friendly environment of the Mariners' California League affiliate in High Desert for their Double-A team in West Tennessee.

He chalks up his improvement primarily to maturity and experience. Halman was a very raw talent when first signing with the Mariners at 17 due mostly to the level of competition he faced in his native land.

"I was young," said Halman. "I kind of got into slumps and I didn't really know how to deal with that. You play every day like a new game and I didn't really know how to do that yet. I let old AB's get to me and I'd take that on to the next game. I didn't really know how to deal with failure. This game is based on a lot of failure, so I think the biggest improvement that I've had is to work hard and never give up."

Despite his enormous five-tool potential, the 21-year-old Halman knows that he needs to improve at least one area of the game. He's working hard on it in the Arizona Fall League.

"Pitch selection," answered Halman. "I get too aggressive and I get out of my plan on what I want to do up at the plate. Sometimes I start swinging at bad pitches and it takes me a while to get back and focus on what my plan is. The biggest thing I'm working on is get a good pitch to hit and lay off bad pitches."

Halman is following the instructions given to him by the Seattle organization. Overall, they're satisfied with his progress.

"The main thing from him is understanding the pitches that he can hit and (getting) a better understanding of the strike zone, and it's coming," said Peoria manager Daren Brown, who is the skipper of the Mariners' Triple-A Tacoma affiliate in the regular season.  "I've seen him the last couple of years in spring training … he's not swinging at as many pitches that he can't handle. He's learning what pitches he can handle and he's not missing many of them."

Another big change this fall for Halman is playing the outfield corners. The Javelinas have five other outfielders whose primary position is center field, so Halman has seen time at all three outfield positions.

"It's a lot different," said Halman, "but I'm getting the hang of it. If you're an outfielder, you should be able to play all three."

The added versatility can only help Halman. Even if he adds weight to his 6-foot-4, 192-pound frame, he should still have the speed to stay in center field but also the power to play one of the corner positions.

Fitting in with his Javelina teammates from other organizations has not been a problem for Halman.

"The guys that I've been here with are very professional," said Halman, "and I'm talking to everybody to see how they do things and how to go about their game. "

Halman has the advantage of being able to easily communicate with his Latin American teammates, since Spanish is one of four languages that he speaks fluently. He quickly picked up Spanish when he first joined the Mariners organization because it is very similar to Papiamentu, the language spoken in Curacao, the Caribbean island of his ancestry.

The Mariners believe that the experience Halman gains in the AFL will be beneficial.

"He's going to be facing really good competition here," said Brown. "It's a good gauging stick for us. Some of the same things we talked about, like pitch recognition, I'm not so concerned … it's a gradual thing that young hitters go through, and he's probably ahead of schedule."

"He's still just 21," said Brown, "but we really like what we've been seeing out of him."

• Atlanta prospect Tommy Hanson turned in his third straight dominating performance on Saturday for the Mesa Solar Sox against visiting Peoria Saguaros. Hanson struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced. The only Saguaro to reach base during Hanson's four-inning stint was Mike Baxter (Padres), who was hit by a pitch with one out in the fourth.

Hanson's performance drew raves from players and coaches on the Saguaro bench, including several players who had faced him earlier this season in the Carolina League.

The 22-year-old right-hander has not given up a run in his first three starts and has yielded only one hit in 8 2/3 innings with 14 strikeouts.

Hanson was helped in his latest start by teammate Matt Young (Braves), who broke open a scoreless tie in the fourth inning by driving in three runs with an inside the park homerun off Saguaro reliever Justin Fiske (Cardinals). Baxter attempted a diving catch of Young's sharp line drive, and the ball rolled all the way to the center field fence while Young easily circled the bases.

• Lorenzo Cain (Brewers) made possibly the best catch of the fall in the Friday night game between the Scorpions and Javelinas at Scottsdale Stadium. The Javelina leftfielder ranged deep into the left field corner to make a running catch of a foul fly off the bat of left-handed hitting Ben Copeland (Giants). Cain's defensive gem was the topic of conversation the next morning on the bench of the Brewers' instructional league team before their final game of the year.

• Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge was inducted into the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame in a ceremony prior to Friday night's game at Scottsdale Stadium.  Wedge played in the AFL in 1993 as a member of the Tucson Javelinas.