Alen Hanson Named Among Top Shortstop Prospects

On Monday, MLB.com began releasing their list of top ten prospects at each position. The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t have any representatives among left-handed pitchers, but Alen Hanson came in at #8 on their top ten shortstops list.

Alen Hanson ranked eighth overall among shortstop prospects

Alen Hanson ranked eighth overall among shortstop prospects

In the rankings, they also break down each player on the 20-80 scouting system in five categories. Hanson was just below average with his arm, which is a fair ranking, but them seem to be a little low on his power, which was rated a 40. He showed good pop with West Virginia in 2012 and as you will see below, he had a decent amount of extra base hits while being very young for the level he played at this past year. Hanson had ratings of 55 for hitting, 60 for speed and 55 for fielding, which are all pretty close to the general consensus.

In 2013, Hanson split the season between Bradenton and Altoona, where he hit for a combined  .274/.329/.427 slash line in 127 games. He had 13 triples and 30 stolen bases, to go along with eight homers and 27 doubles. Hanson continued his season in the Arizona Fall League, where he was named to the Fall Stars(all-star) game. While in Arizona, he hit .253 with a .623 OPS and six stolen bases. His season didn’t stop there though. Hanson went on to the Dominican Summer League and got into six more games, including two starts at second base.

One very interesting note about Hanson and it just goes to show you how young he is compared to the levels he has played in his career. In 559 plate appearances this past regular season, Hanson did not face one pitcher that was younger than him the entire year. Last year, when he broke out with West Virginia, he faced a younger pitcher just 19 times all year. Basically, he is playing well while advancing quicker than most players his age.

Tomorrow’s list could have a couple Pirates on it. They will announce the top ten right-handed pitchers and Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow stand good chances to be included on that list. Taillon seems very likely, while Glasnow might sneak on at the end if they recognize his high ceiling potential.

John Dreker

Author: 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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  • piratemike

    Just going by what I read I don’t see anything special about Hanson. With a weak arm I can’t see him being anything special at SS and it doesn’t seem like his power will be anything to write home about
    The only thing I can hang my hat on is that he is young and hopefully grows in a lot of areas;
    A couple of years ago he was talked about as a Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes type.
    Hope I am wrong.

    • John Dreker

      Exactly two years ago, he was nothing more than a possible sleeper prospect that had only played short-season ball. He’s taken a huge step since then, especially to hold his own at his age in AA. He is younger than many of the 2013 draft picks. Hanson has five months on JaCoby Jones and he’s younger than Josh Bell, plus put up a better season than Bell did at WV a year later and Bell wasn’t old for the level. About 80% of Bell’s plate appearances this year were against older pitchers

      • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

        Looking at the rankings, I saw a guy I’ve had my eye on for awhile, Luis Sardinas. Wouldn’t mind trying to snag him, pair him with AH.

        Also, a side curiosity, would it be worth checking on Chad Billingsly as a super buy-low guy if the Dodgers sign Tanaka?

    • Cato the Elder

      Hard to be too down on a player with a speed/average skill set at a premium defensive position. Comparing Hanson to MVP/All-Star caliber players and declaring him as insufficient without having ever seen him play in an article about how he was the 8th highest tated SS prospect feels a bit antagonistic.

    • The Masked robshelb

      .

      PirateMike,

      You’ve got my vote. With you on this one.

      Besides, I’ve seen The Future, and the future is *BIG* SS’s. Look at the top three on this top ten list. Six-foot three, six-foot, and six-foot four, respectively. And seven of the top ten are six-foot tall, or taller.

      And I always consider this. As more and more teams rely more and more on spray charts and start utilizing more shifts, range superiority will probably become less of an important factor compared to other things a SS can contribute to a team.

      Cal Ripkin set the gold standard– and the nature of top rated SS’s, since then, has inexorably been moving in that direction. Mr. Hanson may be a proficient ML SS some day. But I too can’t envision him as ever achieving super-elite status.

      Or as my pal, the Foo-ster, would (might) say –

      meh . . .

      .

      • SteveW

        Many of the good young shortstops are not big at all. If anything, there are more small ones than there were ten years ago. Among the good young SS’s who are 6-0 or shorter are:

        Elvis Andrus
        Jean Segura (5-10)
        Starlin Castro (5-10)
        Everth Cabrera (5-10)
        Asdrubal Cabrera
        Jurickson Profar (5-11)
        Z Cozart
        Jose Iglesia (5-11)
        Chris Owings (5-10)
        Javier Baez
        Francisco Lindor (5-11)
        Addison Russell
        etc

  • emjayinTN

    If not for Gregory Polanco, this would be the best position player in the entire Pirate Developmental System, and he will play all of 2014 as a 21 year old. Last year at Hi A he hit .281 in 367 AB’s with 23 doubles/8 triples/7 HR’s, and 48 RBI’s as a switchhitting leadoff batter, and that earned him a promotion to AA. After AA he played in the Arizona Fall League and impressed the folks in the AFL enough to earn his way into the All Star Game. The numbers he posted in 2012 as a 19 year old at Lo A were off the charts where in less than 500 AB’s he piled up 33 doubles/13 triples/16 HR’s and 62 RBI’s with 55 W and 35 SB’s and a .900+ OPS. Cannot wait to see this kid at PNC in the leadoff position and playing either 2B or SS. IMO, he has surpassed Miguel Sano, who was said to be the next big hitting SS out of the DR. He is now a 3B and hits a lot of HR’s, but also struck out 142 times in 439 AB’s in Hi A and AA.

    Based on his past achievements Hanson should be in AAA by mid-season and hopefully a late season call-up. This is a Shortstop in the Pirate System – can anyone remember when we had such a talented SS come through our system? I think Jack Wilson came through the Cardinals system. Yep, I am all in with Polanco and Hanson.

  • Y2JGQ2

    Hanson WAS overmatched in AA, not horribly, but he’s going to spend the first half of the season at least in AA if not the entire year, you will not see him on a ML field this year unless its at a futures game.

    • John Dreker

      I wouldn’t rule out seeing Hanson in Pittsburgh this year. He is already on the 40-man roster so they could give him a September look since his first option will be burned this March. He won’t make the majors as a regular until sometime in 2015, but at his age he could be starting at Bradenton this year and he would still be considered young for the level. It isn’t a knock on the kid to say he needs more time at AA, he’s 21 for the entire season. Same age that most college players get drafted

  • Y2JGQ2

    Also, and John correct me if i’m wrong, but I believe Hanson’s and Mercer’s arm grade about the same, with Hanson having more range, but lacking the consistently Mercer has making the routine plays

    • John Dreker

      Mercer’s arm is better and he is definitely the more consistent defensive player. Hanson definitely has better range. Right now, Mercer is the better shortstop option(defense alone), but Hanson has the potential to be just as good or better. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Mercer/Walker and Hanson are in the same infield and one of Walker/Mercer plays third base, based on whether Hanson plays SS or 2B. That would of course be after 2016

      • emjayinTN

        But, do you think that Neil’s proven capability at 3B and 2B make him our best possible LH hitting 1B spelling Gaby Sanchez for at least the first half of 2014? If Lambo cannot develop defensive technique and either he or McGuiness cannot show in ST that they can hit at the MLB Level, my best solution is the veteran Neil Walker. Pitching + Defense wins. We have Barmes and Mercer this year to fill in and Hanson next year.