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Catching Up With RHP Tom Hackimer

Before spring training, Twins Daily caught up with right-handed reliever Tom Hackimer for a Get to Know Him Q&A. He was preparing for the 2017 season, his first full-season as a professional. Hackimer had been the Twins 4th round pick after playing at St. John’s University in New York.

The 23-year-old is currently in Arizona representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League where he has given up one run over four innings.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Tom Hackimer)
Recently Twins Daily chatted with Hackimer to get caught up on his season and his Arizona Fall League goals.

Tom Hackimer began this season with 16 appearances in Cedar Rapids. He went 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP. He walked just 1.1 per nine while striking out 10.5 per nine in 24.0 innings. He was promoted to Ft. Myers where he worked 37.1 innings over 27 games. He posted an ERA of 1.93 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. His walk rate jumped to 4.5 per nine while his strikeout rate stayed high at 10.4 per nine innings.

Hackimer saw success at both levels, but he also saw that there were noticeable differences between the Midwest League and the Florida State League.

Hackimer said, “The hitters were definitely better. I noticed I really needed to mix offspeed in there a little more. In Cedar Rapids, I was throwing a lot of fastballs.” He continued, explaining that it was a lesson learned quickly, “My first outing when I got up to High-A, I was doing the same thing and it didn’t go quite as well. So I realized that I had to mix it up a little more and really make sure, especially for me as a sidearmer, I had to make sure I could get inside on lefties so they couldn’t just dive out over the plate.”

Hackimer played for the Kernels in the first half when they earned their playoff berth. He was also a big part of the Miracle second-half run that led them to the playoffs. Hackimer acknowledged, “It’s always a lot more fun when you’re winning, and a lot more exciting that way.”

But a lot of players are amazed by what their first full season of minor league ball can do to their bodies. One Twins player told me recently that he’s learned over time when to start working out, throwing, or even just showing up to spring training to help him get through a season. That took the player several years to figure out. For Hackimer, he was happy with how his first season went physically.

“It actually held up better than I thought I would. Toward the end, I’d get a lot more tired, but I learned how to get into a good routine and kind of pare down some of the stuff that I do throughout the season. A little bit of a heavier workload toward the begin and then I lessened what I do in the middle and at the end to make sure that I got to the finish line strong.”

And just as his season was coming to an end, Hackimer found out that his season was not complete, at least not quite yet. Late in the season, he found out that he would get the opportunity to represent the Twins in the Arizona Fall League. When invited, there was no question in his mind of whether or not he’d accept the invitation.

“It was definitely a for sure thing for me. The way I found out. We were in Clearwater when I was with Ft. Myers. We had just come in from batting practice. Everyone was standing around the pregame spread. Doug Mientkiewicz came over and said, ‘Hey, come into my office and talk to me when you’re done eating.’”

Hackimer continued, “I was a little excited, nervous, didn’t know what was happening. But I went in there, and he was like, ‘You got picked to go to the Fall League. Congratulations!’ It was nice. It was exciting.”

There are many reasons to send players to the Fall League. Sometimes it is to make up for innings or at bats lost. Sometimes it is to push a player a bit and give them the opportunity to compete against some really good competition. Individually, they all have some goals that they want to accomplish in the season’s seven weeks.

Hackimer noted, “One of my goals was to really work on mixing pitches better. I sort of get into a rut of doing that same thing. I started to develop a changeup, but I haven’t been using it a lot. That was one of the things that in spring training, I talked to Trevor Hildenberger about, and that’s obviously his bread and butter, his changeup. So I really wanted to take this opportunity to try to develop that and see where it’s at as a pitch.”

Earlier this week, Hackimer worked an inning in a Fall League game. “These guys can hit. I got a rude awakening yesterday (Tuesday). I went out and gave up a few quick hits on pitches that normally I think I would have been OK with throwing, but they were either in the wrong spot or in the wrong sequence. So that’s stuff I have to go back and look at.”

In that outing, Hackimer limited the damage to just one run in the inning.

“Double play ball. Pitcher’s best friend.”

Hackimer had a two-inning outing on Thursday in which he was perfect.

As you’ve seen, Tom Hackimer throws from the side. In a lot of ways, he is similar to Twins rookie Trevor Hildenberger. They were both drafted as four-year college relievers. Their first full seasons were spent between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, and they each played in the Arizona Fall League that same season.

Last fall, they had their first interaction. “Back when I was in Instructs last year, I had a ten minute conversation with him about his change up. He’s been very kind, very helpful the whole way through.”

This spring, the two worked and talked some together. According to Hackimer, “I threw with him once in spring training. I always made sure when he was throwing a bullpen that I hung around to watch it if I could.”

When the Twins season ended and they were preparing to play the Yankees in New York, Hackimer received an unexpected message. “One of the things that really impressed me, right before the Wild Card game, maybe a day before, Trevor actually reached out to me to wish me well in the Fall League.”

When the Fall League is over, Hackimer will head home and get some rest. No big plans for the offseason. “I didn’t really have any plans, but the potential to come here knocked out any of the plans I might have had. But it’s for a good reason, so I can live with that.”

When he was drafted, many thought that Hackimer could be a fast-mover. He could start the 2018 season in AA Chattanooga and get up to AAA Rochester. Who knows, maybe even a late-season call up is possible.

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4 Comments

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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 22 2017 03:55 PM

I hope he succeeds in AA/AAA next year. We shall see.

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Deduno Abides
Oct 23 2017 02:01 PM
Great article about an interesting prospect.

Way too many walks, but almost no one hits him so his WHIP is very good. With a K rate like he has there may really be something there. Best of luck to him!

 

 

Way too many walks, but almost no one hits him so his WHIP is very good. With a K rate like he has there may really be something there. Best of luck to him!

 

8.9% walk rate isn't great but it's not all that bad either. 

 

I think deceptive arm slots can easily be underrated in prospects.It definitely upgrades the raw stuff at any level but it's hard to say how much.I like that Hackimer had success against lefties this year, it's the same thing Hildenberger did in 2015.I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Hackimer follow the same trajectory as him.I don't know if two right-handed side-armers would be too many for one bullpen, but I think Hackimer has a good chance of being there in another year or so.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

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