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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Les Haffner got his opportunity after broken hand, then turned pro; Saw three seasons, made high-A

University of South Florida hurler Les Haffner picked up the win in this April 1989 contest against South Alabama, just what he'd obviously hoped for, The Tampa Tribune wrote.

The senior did so by recording 16 of 22 outs on ground balls, while recording a single strikeout, The Tribune wrote.

"This was a big opportunity for me," Haffner told The Tribune afterward. "I've struggled against South Alabama in other years, especially up there. I needed to prove to myself I could pitch well against them."

Haffner pitched well enough overall to soon turn pro. His pro career lasted three seasons. He topped out at high-A.

Haffner's career began that year in 1989, taken by the Angels in the 36th round of the draft out of South Florida. He played his high school ball at Tampa's Chamberlain.

Haffner emerged at Chamberlain through offseason work with a good fastball and other pitches, too, The Tribune wrote in 1984.

"The biggest thing is trying not to overpower everybody," Haffner told The Tribune then of his approach. "I was always a thrower - now I'm more of a pitcher, using my defense rather than trying to through the ball by people."

At South Florida, Haffner lost his 1988 season to a broken hand, but came back to impress the Angels with his velocity and ball movement, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

"I think my junior year might have gotten me some attention but, after the redshirt year, everybody forgot me," Haffner told The Times after being drafted. "I had to start all over again this year."

Haffner started with the Angels at short-season Bend. He went 4-1 in 20 relief outings, with a 2.43 ERA and three saves.

He then moved to Quad City for 1990, where he saved 10 and went 5-1, with a 2.33 ERA. He returned to Quad City and saw high-A Palm Springs for 1990. He went 3-3 overall, with a 4.94 ERA in 34 relief outings to end his career.

By 2000, Haffner had returned Tampa, where he taught emotionally disturbed youth and played on a traveling softball team.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,025
Made the Majors:1,339-33.3%
Never Made Majors:2,686-66.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:547
10+ Seasons in the Minors:331

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