Akron catcher Eric Haase put on an impressive display of power over the last week and in doing so, was named the Eastern League’s Player of the Week for games played between July 3 and July 9.
Haase entered action last week already on a hitting tear at the plate, coming in with a four-game hitting streak that included three consecutive multi-hit games to start it. He would notch hits in every game that he played in, hitting .400 for the week with two doubles, a triple, four home runs and seven runs batted in.
The RubberDucks wrapped up a homestand on Monday against Bowie, but Haase was not in the lineup for the 8-6 win. Haase’s week started on the road on Tuesday, playing in all three games in a quick three-game road trip in Harrisburg with the Senators.
Haase got the start behind the plate in the opener and the move paid off for manager Mark Budzinski as he went 2-for-4 at the dish with two home runs and three RBI. Hitting seventh in the order, he provided his own Fourth of July fireworks with a second inning solo homer to give Akron a 2-0 lead. It was a two-run shot his next time up as the RubberDucks jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the 5-2 final.
He was in the sixth spot in the order on Wednesday in game two from Harrisburg. After reaching on an error his first time up, he stepped up in the fourth with a runner on first and drove him in with a triple to cut Akron’s deficit to 3-2. The Senators would tack on two more in the bottom of the inning and two the next frame on the way to a 7-3 win.
Haase batted fifth on Thursday in the finale from Pennsylvania. He struck out his first time up and flied out in the fourth. He struck out again in the seventh, but was able to extend his hitting streak to seven straight with a tenth inning leadoff single. He would later be forced out at third, but the ‘Ducks would score three times to take a 4-1 victory.
The RubberDucks returned home to Akron for a three-game weekend set with the Altoona Curve. Haase batted leadoff with Bobby Bradley out of the lineup. He struck out his first time up, but he did not miss his second time up in the bottom of the third. With one down in the inning, he went deep to center with his 16th homer of the season to pull Akron within four at 6-2. He struck out his next time up, but leading off the bottom of the seventh, he went yard again for his second two-homer game of the week. Despite his best efforts, Akron would fall in the series opener, 8-5.
Haase’s hitting streak grew to nine games on Saturday. In the lineup for game one of Akron’s doubleheader with Altoona, he hit a ground-rule double in the first inning to put two in scoring position with only one out. He would score two batters later on an RBI-single from Yu-Cheng Chang to put the RubberDucks on top of the Curve, 2-1, but Akron would go on to lose a close one, 6-5. Haase did not appear in the second game.
Haase’s journey all throughout the Akron batting order continued as he made his second start in a row in the third spot in the lineup. He grounded into a double play in the first, but doubled in the fourth with two men down. He added a single in the sixth and another in the bottom of the ninth, the latter driving in a run with the bases loaded. He would work his way around the bases, moving to second on the fourth walk of the inning and to third on a sacrifice fly by Chang. After a pitching change, a liner to third, and the fifth walk of the inning (this one intentional), Haase scored the winning run on Yonathan Mendoza’s walk-off walk as the RubberDucks rallied for four runs in the final frame with just one hit to win it, 7-6.
During his ten-game hitting streak, Haase is batting .425 with a .452 on-base percentage and a .950 slugging mark. He has 17 hits in those ten games, including four doubles, a triple, five homers, and nine RBI.
On the year, he is slashing .275/.348/.628 with 12 doubles, five triples, 17 homers, and 37 RBI.
Haase was a seventh round selection by the Indians in the 2011 draft out of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan. The weekly honor was the first of his professional career. He was named a MiLB.com Organizational All-Star for three straight seasons from 2013 to 2015, was a midseason All-Star in the Midwest League with Lake County in 2014, and was named the 2016 Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player during the playoffs last season.
Photo: David Monseur/Akron RubberDucks