#24, Utility Player, Alen Hanson
Alen Hanson was signed by the Pirates in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic. From 2013 through 2015, Hanson was ranked as a top 10 prospect in the organization, reaching as high as number five in 2013. Once looking like a promising shortstop or second baseman with his speed and range, Hanson has quickly gone from top prospect to potential super utility player.
Hanson is out of options and would need to clear waivers for the Pirates to keep him in the system if he does not make the opening day roster. That’s a far fall from being a top five prospect, so what happened?
Hanson’s bat never truly improved from such a young age. His wRC+ over the last three seasons in the minors, between Altoona and Indianapolis, is just 103. A slightly above league average hitter in the upper minor leagues does not translate well to the majors, and despite his low strike rate, just 16.9 percent, Hanson has only walked 6.4 percent of the time.
His bat will never play in the majors, but as a switch-hitter with speed and the ability to play all over the field, Hanson might stick around the league as a super utility player. After all, he is still only 24 years old.
#23, Pitcher, Gage Hinsz
The Pirates drafted Gage Hinsz out of Billings West High School (Billings, Montana) in the 11th round in 2014. Hinsz, who is now 6’4″ and 210 pounds, was a projectable arm in the draft, something the Pirates always seem to target, see Tyler Glasnow.
MLB Pipeline took an aggressive approach with Hinsz, ranking him as the Pirates 12th top prospect, but they did rank him 16th last season in their mid-season update. In 2015, they ranked him 29th, but with his upside, it the push seems to create a hopeful mindset when looking at Hinsz.
Here at RumBunter, we’ve taken a more conservative approach with Hinsz. Despite MLB Pipeline describing Hinsz as,
"“He’s touching 94-95 mph with his fastball now and there’s more in the tank to come. He can throw it downhill with sink and will profile well as a power groundball pitcher, the type of pitcher the Pirates covet. His breaking ball was a lot better at instructs, and could be above-average in due time. His changeup is still a work in progress.”"
The descriptions on his hook and change are part of the reason why here at RumBunter we are more cautious. The other part stems from performance. Despite posting a 3.66 ERA for the West Virginia Power, Hinsz posted a 4.33 FIP and still was not striking out as many hitters as one would like to see, just 17 percent. But one positive is his control improvements. After walking 13.1 percent of hitters in 2015, Hinsz dropped that number to 6.3 percent last season.
If Hinsz can keep this control and start to miss bats in 2017, he will shoot up the prospect rankings. But because of his prior numbers and needing more development on two of his pitches, we’ll take the conservative route on him for the 2017 season.