Washington Nationals top prospect Robert Hassell undergoes surgery for broken hamate bone, out for 2022 AFL season

Washington Nationals top prospect Robert Hassell will miss the remainder of the Arizona Fall League after suffering a broken hamate bone in his right hand, forcing him to undergo season-ending surgery.

Acquired as the centerpiece from the San Diego Padres in the Juan Soto trade, the 21-year-old outfielder reported for games in the AFL hoping to build off a productive 2022 season in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, he finished 1-for-6 at the plate before leaving in his second game with a wrist injury.

  • Robert Hassell stats (2022): .273/.357/.407, .764 OPS, 11 home runs, 24 steals, 25 doubles, 123 hits in 450 ABs

Tests quickly determined that Hassell suffered a broken hamate bone, an injury that frequently happens to hitters. It often occurs when the knob of the bat smashes into the hamate bone, one of the eight carpal bones on the wrist that is located outside the pinky finger. As described by nynjcmd.com, it’s so common in baseball because of where hitters hold the bat and how the knob hits that area of the wrist.

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The Nationals confirmed the season-ending surgery noting a full expectation that Hassell will be ready for spring training. It will take significant time for Hassell to recover because the injury impacts his ability to grab the bat. However, he should be fully recovered and able to swing without limitations by January.

Hassell didn’t perform nearly as well after the trade to Washington. He slashed .299/.379/467 with an 11% walk rate, 20 steals and 10 home runs in 75 games with San Diego’s High-A affiliate this season. After the deal went through, the Nationals assigned him to their Double-A affiliate and he struggled at the plate with a significantly higher strikeout rate.

  • Robert Hassell stats (Double-A): .222/.311/.296, 28.7% strikeout rate, one home run in 122 plate appearances

There are no long-term concerns with Hassell, but the nature of the injury could impact him this spring. Power is typically the last thing that returns after a hitter breaks their hamate bone, often taking several months post-return to play before it returns to normal. It could diminish the average exit velocity when he plays this spring, but it won’t impact his MLB ETA.

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Considering his struggles at the Double-A level, expect the Nationals to have him repeat at that spot when the 2023 minor league season begins.

This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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