By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
One year ago, Turner Ashby High School alum, RHP Brenan Hanifee found out he was drafted by his favorite team in the 4th round of the MLB draft. On Thursday night, Hanifee finally appeared in his very first professional baseball game as a member of the Aberdeen Ironbirds.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
In front of more than 1,300 fans, including his family, Hanifee earned the first win of his career in a brilliant performance against the Connecticut Tigers (Detroit Tigers Low-A affiliate). Aided by four Connecticut errors, the Aberdeen Ironbirds improved to 1-2 on the year as Hanifee, Juan Echevarria, Joe Johnson, and James Teague combined for a seven hit shutout.
Hanifee went six innings and struck out five Tigers while giving up zero walks and just five hits. He needed just 69 pitches (48 strikes) to earn the first quality start by a starting pitcher for Aberdeen this season.
According to his father, former Bridgewater College assistant coach Sean Hanifee, Brenan was able to counter the aggressive hitting approach of the Tigers by effectively pitching backwards, or using his secondary pitches first instead of attacking hitters with the fastball. Not a lot of pitchers are able to execute this strategy at such a young age, but the 19 year-old Hanifee was firing on all cylinders last night.
While Brenan was able to end the first inning with just 10 pitches, trouble found him in the second. Bryan Tejada and Ariel Serrano would both single, putting two runners on with one out. Hanifee needed just one pitch, perfectly located on the outside, lower half of the plate, to force Andres Sthormes into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. It was the only inning that proved to give Hanifee any troubles.
Not a single Tiger runner was able to advance past second base as Hanifee induced seven groundball outs to just three flyball outs. Many of the five hits allowed were weak contact hits according to his father Sean. Brenan routinely hit his spots all night even though his teammate behind the plate, recently drafted Ben Breazeale out of Wake Forest, has only been with the team for a few days.
Hanifee’s next start should come on Wednesday at home in Aberdeen against the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets affiliate). You can watch on MiLB.tv, but I would make the trip to Ripken Stadium if I were you. Since Brenan was born in Cecil County, Maryland, just minutes from Aberdeen, I expect a big turnout.
Congratulations to Brenan on the fantastic start to the season!