The International Signing Period starts on Saturday, July 2nd. During the signing period, teams get their first shot at signing players who turned 16 since September 1st of the previous year, or who turn 16 during the current year’s signing period. A lot of attention gets placed on the big bonus prospects, but the biggest misconception in the international market is that money equals talent. While talented players do get big pay days, not every talented player gets a big bonus.
Take Alen Hanson, for example. Hanson wasn’t found on any top prospect lists (which usually only project who will get the biggest bonuses, rather than who has the best talent). His signing was pretty low key, taking place on July 10th. His bonus wasn’t even announced. Yet he’s now in the GCL, starting at shortstop, and hitting for a .367/.457/.767 line in his first 30 at-bats, including a homer and four stolen bases last night. So what do we know about Hanson? How about this scouting report from Rene Gayo, from when Hanson was signed:
Hanson is an athletic middle infielder with a very projectable body and an upbeat attitude. He projects to have a number of above-average major league tools. Alen is a line-drive hitter who sprays the ball around the field with some extra-base power. With development, he could hit over .300 in the big leagues. He has speed on the basepaths and will only improve with physical maturation. Hanson could also be a stolen-base threat. He shows all the tools to be a solid-average second baseman.
Hanson’s numbers this year are impressive, but the most impressive thing has been his placement on the field: shortstop. The shortstop position is where you put your most talented athlete. The Pirates have two big candidates for the shortstop position. One is Jodaneli Carvajal, a 2008 international signing, who signed for $350,000. Carvajal is considered a very strong defensive infielder. The other is Yhonathan Barrios, who signed for $250,000 in 2008, and moved to the GCL last year, but didn’t play as he missed the entire year with a hamate injury. Hanson doesn’t have the high bonus that these two received, but the fact that the Pirates are opting with him over Carvajal and Barrios really speaks well about how well they regard him.