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Polanco and Hanson Selected as 2012 SAL All-Stars

The South Atlantic League has announced the selection of the 2012 Annual All-Star Team. Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco were chosen from the West Virginia Power for the end of the year honors.

Polanco was chosen as the Most Outstanding Major League Prospect, and as an All-Star outfielder. The center fielder hit for a .325/.389/.514 line in 422 at-bats so far this year. He’s among the league leaders in batting average (.325), hits (137), runs (80), RBIs (81), stolen bases (40), and slugging percentage (.514).

Polanco was signed on April 11, 2009 for $75,000. He’s a tall, athletic outfielder at 6′ 4″, 170 pounds. He has a ton of speed from his long legs, giving him good range in center field, and allowing him to steal 40 bases in 55 attempts this year. He added some muscle to his frame before the season, which led to a power outburst. He had previously hit six homers in 578 at-bats over three years mostly spent between the DSL and GCL. This year he has 15 homers in 422 at-bats, along with 25 doubles and five triples. He’s also displayed some impressive plate patience, with a 43:62 BB/K ratio in 422 at-bats. Polanco has the defensive skills to stick in center field, with a lot of range, and a cannon for an arm.

Hanson was selected as the league’s top shortstop. The award was based on a poll conducted from the 14 South Atlantic League managers, general managers, sports writers, and broadcasters. He’s hitting for a .312/.383/.532 line in 474 at-bats this year, and is leading the league in hits with 148. He’s among the top five in batting average (.312), at-bats (474), triples (12), extra base hits (60), runs (95), and slugging percentage (.532).

Hanson was signed on July 14, 2009 for $150,000. He’s an athletic middle infielder with some pop in his bat, and a switch hitter with a good approach from both sides of the plate. Hanson hit for a ton of power this year with 16 homers, 32 doubles and 12 triples. He also displayed good plate patience, with a 52:101 BB/K ratio in 474 at-bats. The big question surrounding him is whether he can stick defensively at shortstop. He’s got the bat to remain a top prospect even if he moves over to second base, but his bat has huge value if he can remain at short. Hanson has put up a lot of errors this year, and while errors in the minors aren’t the best method of judging a player’s abilities, the errors do match the live reports on Hanson’s defense. He’s still young and can still improve in that area. If he does improve his defense, he could be one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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