Jeremy Hazelbaker got off to a hot start at the plate in 2016 and played in 46 games through the end of May. The 28-year-old rookie predictably cooled off and was optioned to Triple-A Memphis in mid-June. He responded well to the demotion, posting a 152 wRC+ in 13 games in the Pacific Coast League before being summoned back to the big leagues after the All-Star break. Unfortunately, he saw just 76 at-bats with a .211/.310/.474 slash line after returning to St. Louis. His second half decline was largely fueled by a .212 BABIP, as he actually cut his strikeout rate from 33.3 percent to 21.3 percent while upping his walk rate from 5.2 percent to 12.4 percent and not sacrificing power. The Diamondbacks claimed him on waivers after the season, but this does not necessarily ease playing time concerns as Arizona already has ample outfield depth.
Hazelbaker was claimed off waivers by the Diamondbacks on Friday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Hazelbaker posted a respectable .775 OPS over 114 games with the Cardinals this season, but the team risked losing him by removing him from the 40-man roster, and the Diamondbacks decided to snatch him up. The Diamondbacks currently have a multitude of outfield options on the roster, so it remains to be seen where exactly Hazelbaker fits in. However, he will likely at least have a chance to win a job during spring training.
Hazelbaker went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Philies. The rookie knotted up the game in the third with a 356-foot shot that plated pitcher Luke Weaver, erasing an early 2-0 deficit. The runs would turn out to be the only ones mustered by the Cardinals on Saturday, while also giving Hazelbaker two homers and three RBI over his last three games.
Hazelbaker is out of the lineup for Friday's game against the Phillies. The Cardinals are going with a predominantly right-handed lineup Friday against Philly southpaw Adam Morgan, which will bump Hazelbaker back to the bench. Hazelbaker has made just two starts in the last week, making him harder and harder to roster in standard formats.
Hazelbaker was sent down to Triple-A Memphis on Friday. The 28-year-old outfielder was having a pretty good season, hitting seven home runs and stealing a team-leading four bases. However, in 61 games he has struck out 45 times, and a minor league trip might get his discipline back on track.
Hazelbaker entered as a pinch hitter in Tuesday's loss to the Astros and hit a single in his one at-bat. The 28-year-old rookie has slowed down after his hot start to the 2016 campaign when he recorded 13 extra-base hits (including seven home runs) in his first 85 at-bats. Since then, Hazelbaker has gone 7-for-38, without any extra-base hits. His plate discipline, or lack thereof, is rather troubling as he's struck out 45 times and has drawn just seven walks this season.