Pirates Prospect: Alen Hanson (SS)

In my post about potential “breakout” prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of the players that I profiled was Alen Hanson.  Hanson is a 19 year old shortstop currently playing for Low-A West Virginia in the South Atlantic League.  For a quick look at Hanson, refer to the post I mentioned above at http://thefuturists.mlblogs.com/2012/04/15/pittsburgh-pirates-breakout-prospect-candidates-2/.

Hanson is praised as being a “true shortstop”, having good range and defensive ability.  He is also a plus runner who has the ability to hit for average in the future.  And so far this year, Hanson has shown power that was not present in his first two years in the Pirates’ organization, with four home runs in his first 52 at bats this year, compared to four home runs 452 at bats in the minors.  Although it is very unlikely that he continues to hit home runs at this pace, he could eventually end up hitting 10-20 home runs a year in the majors.  That is still impressive for a shortstop listed at 5’11” and 152 pounds.

It will be interesting to see if Hanson can continue to hit for a good average along with a good OPS in 2012 because he had a similar hot start last year in the rookie level Gulf Coast League, only to see his numbers drop drastically as the season progressed.  ESPN writer Keith Law said that Hanson has “a chance to really hit”, but a position prospect’s ability to hit can not truly be determined until they reach the upper levels of the minors, where they will face more advanced pitchers who work with more breaking pitches and have more experience.  Hanson won’t reach the AA level until 2014 if everything goes right, hoping he can have success in his first full season in Low-A ball in 2012 and then spend 2013 in High-A ball.  From there we will be able to better see what kind of player Hanson is.
For now, Alen Hanson looks like a player who can handle the shortstop position very well, has great speed, can hit for a good average, and can hit for some surprising power for his size.  He has the highest upside of any shortstop prospect in the Pirates minor league system, and if he continues his success in the lower levels, he has the chance to be a top 100 prospect in the minors in the next few years.

For more on prospects and the Pittsburgh Pirates, visit http://blogginbuccos.blogspot.com/ and follow me on twitter @mikemaw45

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