Pittsburgh Pirates Future Friday: Alen Hanson

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

This season the site will be posting articles every Friday that will be titled ‘Future Friday.’  These articles will be about a specific Pittsburgh Pirates minor league prospects who is having a successful season.

These articles will feature Pittsburgh Pirates prospects who range anywhere from top prospects to lower level players who are working their way up the prospect ranks. The articles will outline a bio about them, what they have done in their careers, how they are doing this year, and give some insight on what their future could potentially hold.

The former shortstop turned second baseman Alen Hanson will be the prospect covered in this installment.  Hanson has been a big prospect in the Pirate’s organization since 2012 when he broke out at Low-A West Virginia. He became popular when he and Gregory Polanco both batted over .300 for the Power.

Hanson was not expected by many to become a potential top 100 prospect and consistently in the top 10 in the organization.  When he signed out of the Dominican Republic the deal was for a 90,000 dollar signing bonus.  When teams hand out bonuses of that size they expect those players just to be fillers in the organization or see something the other 29 times do not.

For his career Hanson has had a mixed bag.  He has always provided good offensive numbers, but has struggled with defense and consistency.  As mentioned earlier in the article, Hanson started in the organization as a shortstop.  He played there from 2010 to 2014.  After about 100 games in 2014 Hanson compiled 29 errors at shortstop.

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Due to this, the Pittsburgh Pirates organization decided to move him to second base.  The  biggest issue Hanson had at short was that he lacked the necessary concentration to make the routine plays. Hanson is a fantastic athlete with great range, but would struggle with time-to-throw plays.  The move to second allows for less time for mental errors. So far the transition to second has been a success. In 119 games last year he had nine errors, still not great but an improvement.

What Hanson lacks in defense he makes up for on the offensive side of the ball.  For his career he has hit .284 with a line of .342/.442/.783 (OBP/SLUG/OPS).  His best year was in 2012 when he hit .309 at Low-A West Virginia. Hanson spent all of 2015 in AAA.

Hanson hit close to .290 most of last season.  However, after not receiving a September call up, he watched his season average dip.  He ended the year with batting .263 with OBP of .313.  Many blame this drop in production on him being disappointed about not receiving a call up.

With that, Hanson came to Spring Training ready to go. He impressed so much that before the David Freese signing many thought Hanson had a shot at being the Opening Day second baseman.

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As stated earlier, he has played shortstop and plays second base now, he is a switch-hitter who has some pop (hit 16 homers in 2012) and speed.  He could bring a lot of versatility to a team.  Last year in AAA he swiped 35 bases. This could also make him a threat as a pinch runner in late games situation. The biggest issue with Hanson is he may be blocked in Pittsburgh as the Pirates extended second baseman Josh Harrison last year and still have three more seasons of Jung Ho Kang at third.

As many of you know Hanson recently was called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates while Starling Marte went on paternity leave.  He collected his first Major League hit on an infield single.  He caused havoc on the base paths by making it to third on a wild throw-over.  Hanson was sent back down on May 19th when Marte returned to the team.

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Hanson does not have a clear opening in the near term future.  However, he could be used as a super utility as sorts as the Pirates have gotten him time in the outfield this year as well.  He has also played third base in his career, along with shortstop and second base.  He also could be used a valuable prospect trade chip at the deadline.  Whatever the Pirates decided to do with him, he will help this team in some way.