Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top Prospects: #7 – Alen Hanson

The Pirates Prospects 2015 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2015 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Luis Heredia, RHP
19. JaCoby Jones, SS
18. Willy Garcia, OF
17. Clay Holmes, RHP
16. Gage Hinsz, RHP
15. Trey Supak, RHP
14. Cody Dickson, LHP
13. John Holdzkom, RHP
12. Adrian Sampson, RHP
11. Harold Ramirez, OF
10. Elias Diaz, C
9. Cole Tucker, SS
8. Mitch Keller, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 7 prospect, Alen Hanson.

7. Alen Hanson, 2B

Alen Hanson made the move to second base during the 2014 season. (Photo credit: David Hague)
Alen Hanson made the move to second base during the 2014 season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

The question surrounding Alen Hanson the last few years has been whether he would be able to stick at shortstop. That question seems to have an answer following the 2014 season. Hanson struggled once again with his defense at shortstop, still showing the skills needed to play the position, but lacking the consistency needed to be a good defender. A lot of his defensive issues have come on routine plays, and that was not an issue he could overcome, even after multiple benchings to clear his head.

Hanson was moved to second base at the end of the season, which was partially due to his struggles, but also due to the developments Jordy Mercer made in the majors. With Mercer currently the long-term shortstop, the Pirates decided to switch Hanson to second to speed up his bat to the majors, rather than continue to work on the defense at shortstop.

Aside from the lack of consistency on routine plays, Hanson’s biggest issue at shortstop was a lack of arm strength. He had enough strength to make the throw from short, but his arm was average at best. He displayed a lot of range at short, and that should serve him well at second, while the arm strength won’t be an issue. The consistency problems could still be an issue.

The biggest strength for Hanson is his bat. He profiles as a speedy leadoff hitter who can hit for average with some power from the middle infield spots. His walk rate has dropped in Double-A, and he will need that to rebound in order to be a leadoff guy. Whether he was playing second or short, he was always going to be an offense-first middle infielder. He has the bat to be a top prospect at either position. Hanson’s move to second base was made to speed his bat up, with a 2015 debut in mind. He should start off with Indianapolis, and could be in the majors if Neil Walker goes down with an injury. His long-term outlook is the starting second baseman in Pittsburgh. (UPDATE: The Prospect Guide was written before Jung Ho Kang was added to the system. Kang will give Hanson competition as the long-term second baseman, although I’m not sure I’d consider Kang the favorite right now.)

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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Lee Foo Young

I think I’d rather have Dilson Herrera as our incumbent 2ndbaseman right now. However, how many of us would’ve screamed had it been Hanson in the Byrd deal?


Dilson wasn’t ranked in the top 100 by law : ) I do agree still, but I would have moved hanson before dilson at the time of the trade as well


Gotta know your own prospects better than everyone else, Foo.

Hell, every yinzer in the 412 flipped at Travis Snider being traded. Don’t think public perception means much at this point.


i think nh is done with the public perception phase. at this point its do or die. an imho he is do in!


I don’t even remember what expectations we had of Dilson at that time. Hanson was at SS at the time and Barmes was the starter so I think we probably placed a premium on an up and coming SS.


Herrera was breaking out right around the time nobody really believed Hanson had a strong chance of being a big league shortstop.


Many perceived Hanson as having a much higher upside at the time of the trade.

Brandon Smith

I’d love to have Vic Black back too. People would have flipped if we traded Hanson, or even worse, didn’t make a deal at all.


After all of the years of having January and February with spring training rosters being announced and having it be like Major League at the time setting and looking over the names and having the same reaction—“Who the H*ll are these guys??”, it is sure nice to have discussions as to who the Bucs can bring up and how soon, who can be traded to make the room, who are they going to sign and actually recognize the names. (Well, mostly. Can’t say I heard of Kang before) Sure is fun now. No more throwing a whole lot of stuff on the wall and hoping even 1 guy will stick. Wish everyone would quit bashing Huntington look to see the depth he has built.


No more throwing a whole lot of stuff on the wall and hoping even 1 guy will stick.

Well, they do still do kinda do that. As do all teams.

It’s just that they don’t have to throw as much as they used to. They now have a stickier group of players, it would seem.


I know all teams as well as the Bucs. Just not trying to create most of the roster by that method


Whats your mid-season 2016 Pirates starting lineup, batting order, rotation, bullpen, bench, or 25 man roster? Any will do. Seems like this could be the best possible team.


Still thinking with the “flexibility” in the payroll budget gained with the recent trade of Snider, I am thinking another move will be made between now and the middle of spring training that will alter the lineup. Most likely another pitcher.


Walker, Hanson,Kang ? Who will step up? Who will falter? And who will be traded? It’s a mystery scooby doo! So who wants a scooby snack!?


If Hanson and or Kang show that they can hit major league pitching well, Neil will be traded. With his back issues, it will be hard for the Pirates to offer a long term guaranteed contract to him. No offense to Neil, but many teams will be hard pressed to offer big guaranteed money when his back can and has flared up just about every season. His numbers show he deserves a big money deal but his back will limit who will have the guts to offer it to him.


no way. pedro is nontendered or traded if anyone can be suckered. nfw slides in at 1st.


rip – that’s what I see, too.

Pedro is the short-timer, while Walker may well provide an answer at 1B and the clean-up spot for 2016 & beyond…


Man I can’t wait for this guy to arrive. Once he does we will finally have a lead off guy. Our lineup with be legit for years to come. I believe I am in the minority, but I would trade Walker in a second if Hansen is ready by trade deadline. Walker is gone in my mind so why not get a good return with the depth we have in the infield.


I think they have a bunch of leadoff guys…Harrison, Polanco until his power develops…or even if it does the Pirates have plenty of power in the middle of the lineup. Even Marte if needed. Although I like Marte at 5 or 6. Still, if Hanson becomes Jose Reyes lite at the plate he will be nice to have as a leadoff guy too. Way better than 94-2012 when other than the Kenny Lofton year it was always a mess. I think there were a few years where the leadoff position had under a .290 obp!


I think you are selling our 2009-10 leadoff hitter a bit short. He was quite good at it.


It was so bad at times that we hoped the pitcher got a hit so the leadoff guy would not lead off the next inning.


Ha! You hoped the pitcher got a hit so the leadoff guy could bunt him over.


Even with two out! Lol


Chris Duffy, Tike Redman. Thanks for that Ed Creech and Littlefield. The only thing Tike had going for him is that he was better than Prentice.


That’s a great observation freddy. I’m still smiling about it, I can see them both.By the way, I saw Tike play in a Celebrity Softball Game before the the EL All Star Game last Summer.


Interesting. Who were some of the other celebrities: Jon the country dude from Real World and the living Milli-Vanilli? I think it’s Milli right?


Well actually it was against the Wounded Warrior team. Believe me, watching guys play with one arm or one leg and a prosthetic was inspiring. The former pro players were inconsequential.


I just saw the wounded warriors play a volleyball event in Gulfport where I live. They played against local firemen and police. Really cool to watch.


freddy,I am not what you might call a military minded guy,but I really felt for and admired those guys and all those men and women just like them who we don’t get to see.


I think Hermansen lead off some games too.


Chad Who???


It wasn’t his fault they really rushed him to the majors…then they played him out of position. He was not a CF. He should have been a corner…but they had no one else so they motored him through the minors faster than even Cutch was. He had an .803 OPS career in AAA with a lot of AB so I the right situation he may have at least been a #4 . He really did play well in the minors.

Arik Florimonte

Hermansen was overhyped. He had four years at AAA and still struck out >30% of the time in his 4th year there. I don’t think they Pirates rushed him, he just wasn’t as good as we hoped he would be.


I think he was rushed before AAA. He spent all that time in AAA after he was called up early but definitely can see your point.


Hanson appears to be on track with the offensive side of his game..280 .320.441.761
He is 23 and it is time for him to show some maturity and if he does not he will be moved. From what I have seen of both of them on video, I’ll take Kang any day.


Hanson actually 22 until late Oct…which is awesome, and speaks even more to how impressive his bat has been for his age. He could get 500 AB at AAA and come back in 2016 completely ready as a 23 year old all season. Hanson got moved to 2B last year but I’d like to see him get some OF repast some point this year. With the depth chart the way it is I guess it’s not urgent ad could even wait until fall instructs or winter ball.


freddy: good catch; with position guys like Polanco, Hanson, Elias, Rohas, and Bell, the Pirates will be very solid and competitive for a long period of time. When coaching, you have to know whether a swift kick in the butt or a pat on the back gets the results you want to see. Hanson does not respond positively to benchings or other forms of similar discipline – let’s get smarter, the kid is well worth the effort.


Defense is Defense not matter where you play. The Pirates haven’t been too concerned about the batting average of a back up middle infielder. The Pirates are already comfortable with Kang’s Defense, if his bat follows it will be a big bonus.


At the end of last year NH seemed to admit that Palonco needed more at bats at AAA before they had promoted him. How many plate appearances will the be looking at? Do you see the 2015 debut as a Sept call up. If Hanson does well in AAA it seem to make it less likely that we see Walker past 2016. I imagine the Pirates feel they have enough options that they don’t need to buy out arbitration years or extend Walker.

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