If Only Pittsburgh could Give A Little time to Hanson, we'd know whether he can bridge the Great Divide between Triple-A and the majors.
The Situation: With Starling Marte relishing the joys of fatherhood and a few days on the paternity list, the Pirates braintrust has turned to Alen Hanson. With capable bench bats Matt Joyce and Sean Rodríguez vying for starts, it’s unclear exactly what role Hanson will play in the short term, but it’s certainly possible that Hanson will get significant playing time against the struggling Braves.
Background: In 2009, Pittsburgh signed Hanson out of La Romana, a town in the Dominican Republic made famous by its coral beaches and the famous shipwreck of fellow pirate William Kidd. Hanson quickly built a reputation as a promising young shortstop, boasting a developing hit tool and plus speed. Like many a shortstop prospect before him, Hanson made a splash in Low-A in his 2012 stint, where he slashed .309/.381/.528 with 35 steals as a 19 year-old. While buzz quickly arose in prospect circles, Hanson failed to make similar strides defensively, revealing an ineffective arm and committing 40 errors. The rosy luster faded away as he climbed through the minors; the power never truly reappeared, the strikeouts continued to climb, and the walk rate plummeted. A move to second base in late 2014 felt inevitable, and some opined that it came too late. Hanson handled the keystone well in his 2015 campaign, and it appears to be his long-term position.
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'Cause even the stars they burn / Some even fall to the earth / We've got a lot to learn
Prospects, man. Prospects. Sometimes they can be loads of fun to follow, and other times they can be infuriating, causing you to question everything you believe in and wondering if maybe you should see if Best Buy is hiring.
One of the more frustrating things about following/scouting prospects is the volatility, as players you feel should be successful have bumps in the road, and sometimes these bumps in the road last a full season or more. Too often, though, those prospects get written off, and as we have seen many times, a poor minor-league season may diminish a prospect’s value, but it’s far from a death sentence.
Kyle Crick, Colin Moran, and Stephen Piscotty come off the board to kick off picks 57 through 98.
Continuing with the theme of less filler and more of the good stuff, let’s jump right in here. If you want to revisit the parameters of the draft, they are all in the initial post of the series. If you don’t, you may skip right over this:
The Baseball Prospectus 2013 Top 101 Prospects, by Position, by Organization, and by Age
Yesterday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect crew released our Top 101 Prospects of 2013, also newly available in printed form in the now-shipping Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The festivities were wild and raucous for all, perhaps tempered slightly for fans of the Chicago White Sox. Here is the Top 101 list displayed by position, by organization, and by prospect age. Enjoy!
Breaking down a pair of position player prospects who made major strides in the Pirates' system this season.
Evaluating talent on the international market can be even more difficult than it is on the domestic side. Often, prospect writers become enamored with bonus babies and neglect many of the talented players who sign for smaller bonus figures. Every year, a few of these under-the-radar prospects raise their profiles considerably. This season, the Pittsburgh Pirates system saw two Dominican players burst onto the prospect scene: Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco.
After a decent showing (statistically speaking) in the Gulf Coast League, Hanson advanced to full-season ball in 2012. He entered the season as the Pirates’ no. 17 prospect, according to Kevin Goldstein, described as a “young infielder [with] speed and an idea at the plate.” Now, one could make an argument that Hanson is the Pirates’ top position prospect.
These guys are so good, they cut glass. They're razor sharp.
The 2012 minor league season has lived nearly half its life, and over the course of the last two and a half months, provided us with the sensational sights, sounds, and smells of the player development machine. We follow closely to monitor the progress of the supermen of tomorrow, their triumphs celebrated and their failures analyzed in graphic detail, a highly invasive process in which we so eagerly participate. The storylines are vast highways of entertainment, often too complex to appreciate in proper detail, but tantalizing enough in their abstract form to keep us content with snapshots. The following are snapshots of the first-half, painted with a wide and often clumsy brush, as I lack the time or the tools to document the blow-by-blow accounts of the campaign with an ultra-fine point. However, along those same lines, I’m going to use quotes from one of my favorite movies in order to set the scenes of the season, and hopefully add some insight through the vehicle of entertainment. “Too many things too many things too many things... I wanna go for a walk. Let's go for a walk.” -Amber Waves
“Start down low with a 350 cube, three and a quarter horsepower, 4-speed, 4:10 gears, ten coats of competition orange, hand-rubbed lacquer with a huplane manifold….Full f*ckin' race cams. Whoo!”
It’s only taken half of a season, but Dylan Bundy has quickly emerged as one the top prospects in the game. Seen by many as the best player available in the historically stacked 2011 draft, Bundy fell to the Orioles with the number four overall pick, and has shoved it ever since, using a plus-plus fastball, a nasty cut fastball, a curveball, and a very promising changeup to carve up the competition. In his first 11 starts in the minors, the 19-year-old native of Oklahoma has only allowed 18 hits in 45 innings pitched, sending 58 down on strikes and issuing an anemic 6 walks. “Aces” are the blue diamonds of the game, and it doesn’t take a keen scouting eye or a Rolodex full of industry sources to realize that Bundy has all the necessary characteristics to reach the lofty ceiling.
Last season, you wouldn't have known who these guys were. But thanks to some development and progress, you might start paying closer attention.
The scouting term “pop-up guy” is used often in reference to the draft, when players go from just a name to somebody in line for an early pick and big money. But there are pop-up guys in the professional ranks as well. These aren't players bouncing back to a previously held reputation. These aren't even players finally living up to expectations. These are players who were lucky to sniff their own team's prospect list heading into the season who have not only put up numbers this year, but also have scouts coming around on their talent. In other words, they're some new names you should know.