We have written a lot this month about how Alen Hanson has been a slow starter the last few years, only to pick up the pace once the calendar turns to May. Hanson did just that in a big way this year, hitting for a .362/.403/.595 line with three homers in 133 plate appearances for Indianapolis. The performance was good enough for him to be named the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for the month of May.
Hanson got off to a slow start this year, hitting for a .234/.289/.260 line in 84 plate appearances during the month of April. That’s similar to how he started last year with Altoona, posting a .607 OPS in April, before going on to post an .803 OPS in May, and an .804 OPS the rest of the way at the level. In 2013 he had another slow start, with a .654 OPS in Bradenton. He rebounded with an .840 OPS in May, and had an .827 OPS outside of April in his entire time in Bradenton.
The encouraging thing is that Hanson limited his struggles to April over the last few years. That’s a positive sign for his performance the rest of the way. The downside here is that he might not get an opportunity this year for significant playing time in the majors. Even if there was an injury to Neil Walker, the Pirates would likely turn to Jung-ho Kang, thus putting Jordy Mercer back in as the regular shortstop. Sean Rodriguez might also be an option over Hanson.
The Pirates could eventually opt to bring Hanson up in a bench role to ease him into the majors. That might give them a low-risk chance of seeing if he can take over as the starting second baseman sooner, than later. But even that role would require an injury or two for Hanson to have a path cleared to the majors. So expect more strong hitting from him in Indianapolis until an opportunity presents itself.
UPDATE: Hanson has been named the International League Player of the Month for May.
Players of the Month by Level
Indianapolis – Alen Hanson, 3B (.362/.403/.595, 133 PA, 3 HR)
Altoona – Josh Bell, 1B (.337/.411/.462, 125 PA, 1 HR)
Bradenton – Austin Meadows, CF (.302/.393/.396, 123 PA, 1 HR)
West Virginia – Michael Suchy, RF (.245/.368/.372, 115 PA, 1 HR)