ALEN HANSON, SECOND BASEMAN
|Born: October 22, 1992
Height: 5′ 11″
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2009
Country: Dominican Republic
Agent: LA Sports Management
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Hanson is small and wiry, with more power than you’d expect from his size. He has excellent speed and has played second, third and short. The Pirates stuck with him for some time at short, but problems with errors and concentration finally pushed them to move him to second. He’s done much better there. A breakout season at the plate in 2012 had him ranked among the best prospects in the minors, but his hitting has slipped each time he’s moved up through the minors.
Had strong debut in the DSL, hitting for average and good gap power. and stealing a lot of bases. Hanson played the majority of the time at second, but spent some time at third and a little in left. He had 11 errors at third in just 21 games, but only three errors in 40 games at second.
Got off to fast start in GCL, with an OPS over 1.300 in June, but he slumped after that, posting OPS figures in the mid-.600s in July and August. He again displayed good gap power. His K:BB ratio wasn’t bad, but he does tend to swing wildly sometimes at pitches far out of the strike zone. He continued to show very good speed on the bases. He played the majority of his games at short, with some at second, but he didn’t show the range at short that Jodaneli Carvajal has. He moved up to State College at the end of the year and got into three games. BA rated him the 14th best prospect in the GCL.
The Pirates moved Hanson up to West Virginia and he responded with a big season. He posted an OPS of 1.137 in April and stayed hot through June. He cooled off to a .744 OPS in July, then bounced back to .907 in August. He missed time off and on late in the year due to a hip flexor, so it’s possible either that or the fact that it was his first experience with a long season, or both, played a role in him cooling off in the second half. He hit RHPs (.931 OPS) a little better than LHPs (.853), but not enough to mean a lot. He still showed some flaws in his game: his K rate was high, although not alarming; he needs to improve his base stealing technique significantly; and he committed 40 errors, although his error rate slowed over the course of the season. The biggest question will be whether he can stick at short. Most, but not all, observers think he can’t. The issue will probably be more his arm than the errors, which don’t mean a great deal in the low minors. Baseball America ranked him as the 6th best prospect in the South Atlantic League, in a year in which the league was loaded.
Hanson didn’t have as successful a season as the previous year, as the weaknesses in his game got exposed more against better competition. He opened at Bradenton and got off to a miserable start both offensively and defensively. His concentration in the field was very poor early in the year, resulting in ten errors in his first ten games. That got him a three-day timeout. His error rate dropped dramatically after he returned, as he committed 22 in his final 117 games in high A and AA. He had nearly as poor a start at the plate, posting just a .654 OPS in April. He got on track the next two months, though, with OPS figures of .840 and .880 before cooling off in July. The Pirates moved him up to Altoona at the end of July and he hit respectably there considering that he was only 20 and spent only a month at the level. His strike zone judgment still needs work and he’s still not taking full advantage of his speed on the bases. On the season as a whole he had a huge platoon split, hitting 224/270/306 against LHPs and 305/364/503 against RHPs. He hit LHPs well in 2012, so it’ll be interesting to see if the large split continues.
After adding him to the 40-man roster in the off-season, the Pirates sent Hanson back to Altoona. He got off to a terrible start for the second straight year, posting a .607 OPS in April. He came out of it in May, hitting consistently well the rest of the year; he had an OPS above .800 every other month except June, when it was .749. He had no platoon split to speak of. On the down side, the Pirates twice benched Hanson for failing to run batted balls out. He also missed the final week with a hamstring injury. In the field, the errors continued. Hanson has good range and the ability to make tough plays, but seems to lose focus on easy plays. After he committed 29 errors in 100 games at short, the Pirates moved him to second. The move may not have resulted entirely from the errors. The Pirates’ increasing comfort level with Jordy Mercer at short might also have been a factor.
Hanson spent the season at Indianapolis. After a slow start, he had a huge month in May, posting a .998 OPS, but then slumped in June. He recovered somewhat in July, then hit another bad slump in August. The end result was a mediocre season. One problems was his hitting from the right side, which produced just a .617 OPS. He had a .735 OPS from the left side. He played second almost all year, but got five starts at third and one at short. Hanson had a good year defensively, showing good range and committing only nine errors.
Hanson didn’t show himself to be ready for the majors in 2015 and the Pirates didn’t consider him for a major league job in spring training. Instead, he went back to AAA and continued to show some erratic trends at the plate, although he actually hit well except for one awful month. He got off to a good start, batting .328 in April, but he hit just 185/191/272 in May. Through the season’s first two months, he had an alarming BB:K ratio of 4:39. In June, he suddenly started taking pitches, and between June and July he had 21 walks and 21 strikeouts. He put up respectable OPS figures of .718 and .750 over the two months. In August he went back to swinging at everything, drawing three walks and fanning 19 times, but he still put up an .819 OPS. For the season in AAA Hanson had a .665 OPS against LHPs and .725 against RHPs. He did a lot of running on the bases, but didn’t steal successfully at a good rate. He played well enough at second, even though he spent only half his time there, to be voted the best defensive secondbaseman in the International League for the second year in a row. He split the rest of his time between left and third. The Pirates called Hanson up briefly in June and he made his major league debut against Atlanta. He returned for September, but even though Josh Harrison missed most of the month, the team showed no interest in giving Hanson much playing until several days after they were eliminated from the wild card race. While with the Pirates, Hanson played second exclusively.
Hanson is out of options, but the Pirates’ disinterest in playing him in September, especially with Harrison hurt, raised the question whether he has a future with the team. His chances of making the team out of spring training took a further hit when the Pirates acquired Phil Gosselin, but the absence of Jung-Ho Kang may have saved Hanson. In the end, the Pirates chose to go with Gosselin, Adam Frazier and Hanson, and no fourth outfielder, although they reportedly tried to trade Hanson. Jose Osuna, who had a big spring, might have made more sense, as Gosselin, Frazier and Hanson all lack significant outfield experience and none, other than maybe Frazier, is likely to hit like you’d like an outfielder to hit. Hanson could be on a short leash if he struggles.
UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Hanson struggled at the plate in the limited opportunities he got. The Pirates designated him for assignment at the beginning of June in a shakeup of their very unproductive bench.
|2017: Major League Minimum|
|Signing Bonus: $90,000
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: 5/16/2016
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2022
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2013
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2014, 2015, 2016)
MLB Service Time: 0.038
|July 14, 2009: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.
November 20, 2013: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
June 1, 2017: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.