Pirates Prospect Spotlight: Alen Hanson
Alen Hanson bats during Sunday’s game against the Brevard County Manatees
This weekend I made the drive from my home to Space Coast Stadium, to watch the Bradenton Marauders take on the Brevard County Manatees. My goal in attending the games on Saturday and Sunday was to get my first real look at Alen Hanson. Hanson is a top infield prospect for the Pirates, and has shown why so far this season.
On the year, Hanson is hitting .281/.339/.444, with forty-eight RBI, and thirty-eight XBH, this while primarily hitting leadoff at Bradenton. He’s had trouble in the field, committing an unsightly number of errors, like he did in West Virginia as well, but this year he’s been making some adjustments, primarily on his footwork, and he seems to be smoothing some things out in the field. Here’s what I saw from Hanson this weekend:
Game One Saturday 07/27:
In his first at bat of the game, Hanson had a long, great at bat. He worked back from a 1-2 count to a full count, taking a couple of pitches, and fouling another off. On the seventh pitch of the at bat, Hanson squared a ball up, and drove it through the middle of the infield for a single. It was a great at bat, but Hanson followed it up with some sloppy baserunning, he was picked off of first base just a few moments later.
In his second at bat, Hanson came to the plate with a runner on second, and roped a ball down the right field line, knocking the run in. This was Hanson’s opportunity to show off his speed, the ball would have been a long single for most players, but Hanson stretched it into a double, and it wasn’t close.
In Hanson’s third at bat, he flew out to deep left, in a two pitch at bat. Nothing stood out in particular in this at bat.
Hanson’s fourth at bat was the worst of the night, unfortunately. He struck out looking on a fastball, and when it was called strike three, he drew a line in the dirt with his bat where he thought the ball was. He and Bradenton Manager Frank Kremblas both exchanged words with the home plate umpire, who’s been notorious for tossing anyone and everyone. No ejections followed the altercation.
During the game Hanson played well in the field, including making one spectacular backhand stop on a ground ball followed by a great throw. He didn’t commit any errors in this game, and looked fairly comfortable, while playing a very deep short (feet on the outfield grass).
Game Two Sunday 07/28:
Game two on Sunday was a wild one. It saw Bradenton pull Hanson in the middle of the fourth inning, apparently to promote him to Altoona. It saw Bradenton blow a 7-2 lead, and score two runs in the ninth inning, to win the game 11-9. Here’s what else happened:
Alen Hanson worked to a 2-1 count in his first at bat, leading off the game, and appeared to be in control of the plate appearance, until the next pitch. He swung at a low and out of the zone fastball and grounded out to second base. It wasn’t awful by any means, but it was not Hanson’s best at bat.
In the second inning, Hanson got another plate appearance. This time with runners on first and second, he hit a deep fly ball to the warning track on the first pitch, a sac fly that moved the runners up ninety feet. Off the bat it looked like Hanson might have a home run, but the ball hung up on him, and just went for a sacrifice instead.
In the third inning Hanson came to the plate with the bases loaded, and hit a weak ground ball that squirted past the pitcher’s mound. Hanson was able to show off his speed again, by beating out the throw from the shortstop for an infield single.
Hanson did not get an at bat in the top of the fourth inning, before being pulled from the game. He was not seen in the dugout after being pulled out of the game, so many (including a Brevard coach I spoke with after the game) were under the impression that Hanson was traded. Turns out (at least as of right now) that Hanson was simply promoted to Altoona.
Whichever Pirates executive had him pulled in the middle of a game right at the trade deadline must have thought it was hilarious, but for now Hanson stays in the Pirates system, and moves up to join Gregory Polanco in Altoona. Hanson showed off a wide range of skills this weekend, at the plate and in the field. He was clearly the best athlete on either team in this series, and made effective use of that athleticism. This was a well deserved promotion from Hanson, and hopefully we’ll see more good things down the road for him.