The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
20. Jin-De Jhang, C
18. Vic Black, RHP
13. Tony Sanchez, C
11. Clay Holmes, RHP
We continue the countdown with the number 4 prospect, Alen Hanson.
4. Alen Hanson, SS
Hanson first entered the prospect radar in 2011 when he made the jump to the GCL after one season in the DSL. His hitting drew praise from scouts, and impressed the Pirates enough that they gave him an aggressive push in 2012. The Pirates jumped Hanson to West Virginia to start the 2012 season, joining several other prospects who received the same advanced push.
Hanson responded quickly to the promotion, putting up some amazing numbers in April. That put him on the radar for national attention, and led to him becoming one of the biggest breakout players in all of minor league baseball. He hit for a .410 average and a 1.129 OPS in 105 at-bats in April. The only month he dropped below an .800 OPS was in July, when he had a .260 average and a .752 OPS. He bounced back in August with a .320 average and an .898 OPS. The strong finish was great to see. Hanson faded in the second half of the 2011 season, which now looks like it was due to a finger injury. He had a hip flexor injury in July, which could have led to the poor month in 2012.
The big question surrounding Hanson is his defense. He spent all of his time at shortstop, but there are questions whether he can stick at the position. He’s got a fringy arm which has enough strength to stay at short, but might be better for second. He’s got good range, but looks raw with his glove work and foot work. That led to 40 errors in 103 games in 2012.
There’s no question that Hanson has the hitting skills to make it to the majors. He’s a switch hitter with great bat speed and a lot of power for any position, much less from the middle infield. He has a good K/BB ratio, which is rare to see from an international hitter. He also has a ton of speed, helping him to get extra base hits, and making him a threat in the running game.
Hanson doesn’t have a lot of competition in the system at shortstop, so he should get every chance to stick at the position. The majority opinion is that he’ll eventually have to move to second, although there are some who feel he can stick at short. Even if he moves to second, his bat keeps him as a top prospect. He should open the 2013 season in Bradenton, with a big focus on the defensive side of the game.