INDIANAPOLIS – Alen Hanson’s first trip to the big leagues was a short one. The second baseman was only up for three games, replacing Starling Marte while the left fielder was on paternity leave. Hanson didn’t see much playing time, but did manage to get his first Major League hit in his two at-bats.
“I was excited. I waited a long time for my first at-bat in the Major Leagues,” Hanson said after his return to Indianapolis. “The first at-bat, I was a little nervous, but the second one, it was ‘Okay, I’m ready to hit,’ and I got the base hit.”
The Pirates have taken this approach in the past where they will call up prospects, and rather than starting them, they will let them soak in the MLB atmosphere. Indianapolis Manager Dean Treanor explained the benefits of that, and how it can help a player like Hanson.
“The thing about it is, he sees what that really is,” Treanor said. “It’s much different than Spring Training. Being in big league camp, it’s really irrelevant. To be in that atmosphere, to be in Pittsburgh with that environment, now he’s got a taste of that. Now, hopefully he’s a little hungrier to get back there and do the things that he needs to do here, and keep getting better. I think that’s the benefit of going up there, even though it’s a short period of time. You get a taste of that, and you want to go back there.”
Hanson said he enjoyed the experience. He talked with Clint Hurdle before he went down, and said that Hurdle encouraged him to continue to work hard and show that he wanted to come up again. Hanson has been playing all over the field in Indianapolis this year, giving him plenty of opportunities for a future call-up.
“They want me playing every position, the outfield and second, to be ready,” Hanson said. “Then they’ll call Dean and ask who is ready. So I’m making sure I’m ready to go back.”
Treanor hadn’t had a chance to talk with Hanson in detail about the experience when I talked to him prior to Friday’s game, but was looking forward to that conversation.
“I talked to him a little bit,” Treanor said. “I haven’t sat down with him at length, which I’ll do. Because I want to hear about it, I want to hear what he took away from that. I know Clint talked to him. I think he’s in a good place right now, and he was excited to go there, and hopefully he’s excited to get back there.”
Hanson didn’t have the best return to Triple-A, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Friday night. He looked like he might have been pushing at times, with a slide into first base to try and get an infield single, and a few poor swings on strikeouts. One issue for Hanson in the past is that when he has been close to the majors, he has pushed, and that has thrown his game off, leading to poor offensive results. We’ll see if the brief time in Pittsburgh, and the conversations with Hurdle and Treanor will help that going forward.
Wilfredo Boscan Makes an Impressive MLB Debut
Wilfredo Boscan is a guy who technically has prospect status, but isn’t a real prospect due to his age. That doesn’t mean he can’t help the Pirates this year, as we saw on Thursday when he threw two shutout innings in his MLB debut. Boscan got the call to the big leagues, and this time he actually got a chance to pitch, unlike last year, when he was called up three times but didn’t get a chance to make his MLB debut.
“There was interest last year, obviously,” Treanor said. “You go up there, and you don’t know if you’re going to get activated, and he didn’t. We knew he was going to get activated this time.”
Things were different this time around, in large part because of the results Boscan was putting up with Indianapolis. He had a 2.48 ERA in 40 innings, with a 31:4 K/BB ratio. He had good overall numbers last year, with a 3.07 ERA in 126 innings, but the walks were up, with an 86:45 K/BB ratio.
“His walks to innings ratio was down here. He’s throwing strikes, what they needed up there, and that’s really the difference from last year to this year,” Treanor said. “He threw a lot more strikes this year, attacked hitters better. They’re looking for innings up there, and if the game is at a certain point, you want somebody to come in and give you some innings and keep the score where it is. I think he fits that very well.”
Treanor got a chance to watch Boscan’s outing, due to the fact that Indianapolis had a day game on Thursday. As for whether he sees Boscan sticking in the big leagues, he said that there was no time frame, but he was encouraged by the outing.
“Based on last night, he’s probably going to get a longer look,” Treanor said Friday afternoon. “I don’t think there was any time frame involved in this. They just felt that he was, right now, their best option to go up there and fill that role. It worked out very well for him, and for the Pirates last night, and hopefully he keeps that going for them.”
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.