A year ago Haehnel was looking pretty good. He didn't have great stuff. He never has had that. Scouts still were a little skeptical because of this. His fastball mostly sits in the high 80's and that's his best offering. He also has a decent, but not great changeup. He has some deception in his pitching motion, which helps, but he's still not destined for stardom. Still, he was coming off a season where he demolished A-ball hitters working out of the pen, striking out 3 and a half times more batters than he walked and more than batter per inning. Nevertheless, the Orioles decided that they wanted to see what would happen when the lefty moved to the rotation.
Wow. That didn't turn out quite the way they wanted. The O's sent him to the Hawaii Winter League to get his legs back underneath him as a reliever and while the results were better, that's not saying much. He wasn't exactly dominating there, posting a 5.00 ERA. His K and BB rates were back to respectable (16 punchouts and 5 walks in 18 frames) but he still was a fairly hitable.
Haehnel's chances of being a big league reliever are still alive and breathing, but things are not looking good. Finesse lefties aren't exactly a rare commodity and unless he gets it moving in a hurry, he'll have the dubious distinction of topping out as an A-ball reliever. One additional thing to keep in mind is that he was 23 years old during his stellar 2005 season. Another warning sign is that while scouting reports mention that he gets some sink on his pitches, he's been a flyball pitcher for at least the last couple of years.
Personally, as much as I've been critical of him in this article, I really would like to see him succeed if for no other reason than because I viewed him as an interesting sleeper when he was in college and because I generally root for all prospects who are fellow Illinois or Indiana natives.