The O’s fourth-rounder in 2016 from the prep ranks, Hanifee was a multi-sport star at a Virginia high school. A plus athlete with a ton of projection when he signed, the 20-year-old righty has made steady progress the last two seasons and quietly pitched to a 2.86 ERA across 23 starts last year with Delmarva. He was uncharacteristically wild in his 2019 debut, walking five batters in four innings and being charged with six earned runs.
Usually, Hanifee throws a lot of strikes and racks up contact outs as a result. His fastball worked in the 90-to-93 mph range, and he’s still young enough it might tick up a bit as he finishes filling out a 6-foot-5 frame. The primary off-speed is an upper-80s slider with short, lateral slant. He relied heavily on those two pitches last year, as his changeup still lags a bit behind the other two offerings. Coming in at 85-to-87 mph, it flashes short, late dive but acts more like a fastball due to minimal velocity separation.
One bad start in April isn’t reason to be concerned. Hanifee has tools to work with, and he’s athletic enough to foresee improvements to his velocity and third pitch in time. Hanifee’s overall projection and #5 starter upside landed him 15th on our Orioles top prospect list.