Despite the errors, Alen Hanson has the skills to stick at shortstop over the long-term.

Alen Hanson Promoted To Altoona

The Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted shortstop Alen Hanson to Altoona. He left today’s Bradenton game in the fourth inning. With Bradenton, Hanson hit .281 in 92 games, with 23 doubles, eight triples, seven homers and 24 stolen bases.

Alen Hanson would be expendable, but only in a bigger deal.

Alen Hanson would be expendable, but only in a bigger deal.

Alen Hanson came into this season as the Pirates fourth rated prospect, though some people had the 20-year-old switch-hitter rated ahead of Gregory Polanco. Hanson started the season off slowly, both on defense and at the bat. He hit .255 in April, with a .654 OPS., but he only did that with a good finish to the month. Hanson was hitting .191 on April 14th, a day he made three errors in the field. He was benched to clear his head and he then took extra infield with Gary Green, the Pirates minor league infield coordinator.

Hanson batted .311 in the month of May, then .300 in June, improving his monthly OPS from .840 in May to .880 in June, thanks to showing some power. He had just one homer between April/May. Last season, Hanson hit 16 homers for West Virginia, while also collecting 33 doubles and 13 triples.

He hasn’t been as good at the plate in July with a .250 average in 20 games, however his overall stats are strong and the Pirates have no prospects ahead of him in the system. Altoona has been using Drew Maggi at shortstop recently.

Altoona has 36 games left in their season, so this move gives Hanson a chance to get just over a month of experience at AA. It also gives Altoona three of the top four prospects in the system now, with Polanco and pitcher Jameson Taillon already on the team. Hanson was rated fourth in our mid-season prospect poll, though he was passed by West Virginia pitcher Tyler Glasnow.


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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • joe g.

    If they don’t trade Hanson, could Walker end up the odd man out? They could play either Mercer or Hanson at SS/2B.

    • rburgh

      Most likely the Bucs would trade NW in that scenario – he’s too valuable to be a bench player.

      • Bryan Graham

        To valuable to who? His body is falling apart along with his average and power numbers.

        • moose7195

          He’s started strong since the AS break. I’m not ready to give up on Walker any more than I’m ready to declare Mercer the middle infielder of the future.

          • Bryan Graham

            Only on the Pirates could a guy who is 5 for 21 (.238 avg) since the all star break be considered to be starting strong since the break and he had 3 of those hits in one game, last night. The Pirates have no options but to stick with Walker other than to platoon him out when a lefty is pitching.

            • moose7195

              He’s hitting .240 on the year regardless, And my comment still stands. I’m still not ready to give up on Walker long term for some potential flavor of the month in Jordy Mercer. We seen Walker heat up big time in the past, and I have no reason to think he can’t have a productive season

  • Adam Bindas

    Agreed that with NW hitting struggles recently during his age-27 season (his “prime”) there is no reason to think he will necassarily have the 2B position locked down in two years. If Hanson maintains current trajectory I would dream of him slotting in a shortstop, next to mercer or dejesus.

    • Susanne Klich Langford

      Walker still has a 2.3 WAR despite the injury and the low average. He does plenty of things well and is a hot week or two away from being the same guy he has been the past few years offensively. His defense keeps getting better also. I’d love to see .290 and 20 HR from Walker but even at .270 and 15 HR and 30 doubles there is not much to dislike. He is an underrated player in my opinion..and he is better than Mercer offensively and defensively although I think Mercer plays better as a SS anyways. How many 2B in the majors have put up 4 straight 2.0 WAR seasons?

      – Fred Langford

      • Bryan Graham

        I will take Mercer over Walker offensively, at least through this stage of the season.

        • Kevin_Young

          That’s probably not a good choice.

    • smurph

      I agree with fred. To me Walker has the stroke to be a .290 hitter, which he’s been when healthy. He has had a bad string of injuries. Will that continue? Who knows. However if you are willing to dump him for a kid who makes about 35-40 errors per season, a lot of the 2-1 games the Pirates pitchers win will end up being 3-2 or 4-2 losses. I would rate Walker one of the top 8 defensive 2B in the majors.

  • Alex Henry

    I really hope he sticks at SS its so key for the future of the team for this guy to become a everyday SS we haven’t had a good SS since Jack Flash. They are hard to come by i have been and will be a believer in this guy.

  • Jeremy J Stein


    • Jeremy Ransom


  • Jesse Cleaver

    2nd base platoon with walker and mercer once Hanson arrives

  • moose7195

    Looks like an attempt to boost Hanson’s value. I might be willing to bet some money that Hanson’s getting moved

    • meatygettingsaucy

      that really doesn’t make sense. Scouts watch the games and can see what potential a player has. No organization is going to view a recent promotion with 0 AB at a new level as making a player worth more. More likely, Hanson has earned his promotion by improving on defense.

      • moose7195

        Any GM looking at Hanson’s stats are probably asking the same question: Why hasn’t he been called up yet? His stats have supported a callup for about a month. Of course they are gonna see the poor D but they can’t know every reason for him staying in Bradenton or even the Pirates reasons for keeping him there. And its not about his lack of experience at a new level, but the fact that he has finally conquered High-A that boosts his value. These other teams know that the Bucs know Hanson better than anyone else could, so the Pirates actions do have an impact on a players value.

  • Susanne Klich Langford

    John, do you think the fo will promote Polanco to Indy for the playoffs? With the impressive eye and plate discipline he has shown I feel like they might as well get him in a pennant race after 100 more AA abs. I am not the typical fan that wants to rush prospects but I feel like Polanco is a special case.

    – Fred L.

    • buster09

      Fred,I know I will catch all kinds of hell for this,but I’m not so sure that the Pirates wouldn’t be better off with Polanco leading off. If he would hit .265 or .270 with his high % of walks,they could drop Marte down in the lineup where he would be better off,and also up grade their RF defensively.

      • Y2JGQ2

        Marte….one way or another….needs to learn plate discipline well enough to tell the difference between a fastball and an offspeed pitch. Moving him down in the order just gives him a licence to free swing and that’s the opposite of what he needs for his development.No offense to his talent, but i played division III baseball and I can tell the difference out of a pitchers hand, so there is no excuse for him swinging all out at a first pitch slider. someone needs to teach that kid that if its an offspeed pitch from righty and they are pitching to him, chances are, they aren’t trying to throw it over the plate and he needs to keep the bat on his shoulder. Just looks like he’s guessing too much and he has the bat speed that he doesn’t need to guess. he can easily be late on a fastball and hit a rocket triple so what’s the hurry?

    • John Dreker

      Fred, I think there is a chance he could be up for the last week of the AAA season, then play in the playoffs. It is something the Pirates have done in the past quite often and Polanco fits the bill of the type of player they would do that with. Taillon would be another play they would do that with

      • moose7195

        That sucks, I was hoping Taillon could get the call to AAA before the last week of the season

        • John Dreker

          There are only five weeks left in the season and Taillon has missed some time recently, so it is doubtful he will spend too much time in AAA. He is starting again Wednesday, which will be 13 days between starts. Indy’s season ends Sept 2nd, so at most he has seven starts left, plus a hopeful playoff start.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    I am still just shocked that Glasnow and Gourley have not yet been promoted to Bradenton yet….they would both be much more deserving than Hanson to Altoona – although I don’t have any problem with that promotion

    • smurph

      Yeah Glasnow has not been promoted because that would put him ahead of the normal schedule the Pirates use to advance these prospects. However he has made it very clear that low A hitters are no challenge for him.

    • John Dreker

      Glasnow is still very young and has a lot to work on, specifically his command and his changeup. If you go by how the Pirates handled some other big name HS pitchers, Colton Cain, Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon, they want them to worry about learning how to pitch their first full season, sticking with the same pitching coach and just go out there and pitch. The next season is when they can move up mid-season. So I’d expect the same thing with Glasnow and anyone else in the future, such as 2nd round pick Blake Taylor, even if he dominates

      • John Dreker

        Gourley is a bit of a surprise at this point, but he still has some flaws to his game. He has been remarkably consistent all season, with a monthly OPS between .787 and .803 all four months. He does have some flaws and he is older than most of the better prospects, though 22 is still top end for prospect status at that level and he only recently turned that age. Gourley has just 19 walks and he isn’t hitting for much power, so while he is hitting .326, he still has a .797 OPS. That puts him 4th in batting in the league, but 18th in OPS. For what it’s worth, a long-time NL scout watched him during a series and was not high on him at all(hitting tools), though he did like the way he played the game.

  • SeanRamblings

    Please change the spelling of “Pittsburg” to Pittsburgh unless there is a Pittsburg Pirates in Pittsburg, Kansas.

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