Winter Leagues: Alen Hanson Comes Up Big During Ninth Inning Rally

After everyone was off on New Year’s eve, action picked back up slowly on Thursday with the first day of playoffs in Mexico. While the Venados de Mazatlan roster has five Pirates players listed, it looks like Felipe Gonzalez is the only one that is still active and with the team. On Thursday, he struck out the only batter he faced in his team’s 4-1 loss.

Sebastian Valle went 1-for-3 with a double, as his team also lost on day one. He finished the season with an .893 OPS that would have ranked him third in the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Friday’s Action

In Australia on Friday, Sam Kennelly went 1-for-5 with a single and a strikeout. The 18-year-old played third base and handled all three plays in the field cleanly. On Saturday during a doubleheader, he played an inning of defense at first base in the first game and didn’t play in game two. He has played all four infield positions this season.

In the playoffs in the Dominican, Alen Hanson went 2-for-5, driving in three runs and scoring once. Hanson hit a double in the fifth inning, then came up with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning and hit a triple off Toronto Blue Jays reliever Bobby Korecky(playing for Aguilas Cibaenas) that brought his team within one run. He scored the tying run, but his team ended up losing in the tenth inning. Hanson started the game at shortstop, but quickly moved over to second base when the starting second baseman injured his shoulder in the second inning. He handled all four plays in the field cleanly. The opposing starting pitcher was Wandy Rodriguez, who gave up one run over five innings, with eight strikeouts.

Gustavo Nunez went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He is hitting .316 in five playoff games.

In Mexico, Sebastian Valle had an unusually quiet game as his team was busy putting ten runs on the board. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Valle threw out the only runner that attempted to steal.

Felipe Gonzalez faced three batters and all three reached base. He gave up a double and two walks, but the reliever that followed him stranded all three runners. He has pitched in five straight games.

  • onemanrevival
    January 3, 2015 3:01 pm

    With all the good news on Hanson, got a question on the progress of Wandy. Will he actually help the Phillies this year? Is he even good enough to make that consideration?

  • I got the 2015 Prospect Guide last week – read most of it already. I think the Top 50 list is pretty solid, except I would not have Jaff Decker in the Top 50 (#41 I believe) and certainly not ahead of Broxton. Other than that, I agreed with most of the rankings….

    Tim and company – good job as always.

    • I would agree except I think Decker is younger than Broxton….so I guess I agree…with Tim and his team.

      • Actually, the legendary Jaff Decker is 3 months older than Broxton….

        • Thanks. For some reason I was thinking Broxton was 26-27 years old. Broxton is really talented he has just never hit above .275 anywhere I the minors. But at least that was last year and a substantial jump from what he had hit in the past. If he can lower the strikeout rate a little and continue to still make hard contact when he does hit it he could be a useful piece.

        • I think they probably kept Decker around because they know what they have in him. He gives you good ABs and sees a lot of pitches and provides line drive power and ok defense. A lot of people thought Decker stunk last year but he really had nearly the same exact year he had in 2013…except his average dropped and so did his strikeouts. Walks & XBH were nearly identical. Really to me he is like a Travis Snider that walks more and hits less HR. Which probably makes him filler.

          • .286 average in 2013, .257 last year…although, much of his hitting stats in the SD organization were inflated due to the leagues he played in. He is probably closer to what we saw in Indy last year.

            Broxton could be a sleeper as a 4th outfielder type or a trade piece, if he can follow-up 2014 with a good season in 2015 in AAA. He was a former high draft choice (3rd round) and is obviously passes the eye test in terms of athletic ability. He and Rojas seem to be somewhat similar players.

            As for Decker, looks like an outfielder on a Sunday softball team! 🙂 He looks like John Kruk’s son….not a good thing….

            • Like I said we all know pretty much what Decker is and it’s not anything great. But he does have a sound approach and is surprisingly athletic…at least for as athletic as he looks! I do think the .257 could be a fluky thing because all the other peripherals were the same as 2013…but I don’t know his line drive rates or anything for either year. I wouldn’t be surprised if his average went back up in 2015. It should anyways with it being his third season in AAA.

  • So, is it a foregone conclusion that the catchers in Indy will be Diaz and Valle?

    • …and Sanchez…although I have been rooting for weeks for them to pick one more vet with some MLB experience up…and turn Sanchez itno a DH/1B

  • Short of injuries or the 9/1 call up, I don’t see Hanson playing in Pittsburgh on 2015. He is still very raw and inconsistent.

  • I actually think the plan is to put either Hansen or Kang at 2nd for the future and to extend Neil Walker and make him a 1st or 3rd basemen. Thats what I would do but not until after 2015

  • Can’t believe people are talking about trading Walker because we have options with Kang and Hansen. I’d agree if Kang can come in and hit the ball like Neil Walker, and the only way I do that is a lot of return. If it was to the Nats like people are saying I would want Zimmerman to try and make a run and a prospect. They’d never do that. But let’s see if Kang can even be a major league player ,let alone replace Walker’s production. I’d rather re-sign him and move him to a corner when Pedro leaves or Harrison doesn’t work out

  • It continues to amaze me, just how fickle fans really are. The first time a prospect hits a bump in the road, fans are ready to toss him aside. I’m so glad you guys aren’t in charge of personnel, since we’d have nothing left on the farm. I’ve seen the same reactions for everyone from Walker and Alvarez to Polanco and Marte. Most have panned out okay. Patience is a virtue. Nurture and better things develop.

    Why would the Pirates entertain a trade for Walker? The standings the last couple of years show we are in win now mode as well.

  • There are trade possibilities with Walker, especially with the addition of Kang, that might move Hanson up the depth chart quicker. The Nationals would love to have Walker, 2nd base is a position that they are still working to improve this off season and they have the talent that Pittsburgh would want for Walker although I doubt they would want Hanson, they are in win now mode.

    • That would be a huge mistake. A player who can’t make consistent plays at AA and has discipline problems has no business on a contending team. Period. We aren’t going to trade Walker with any intention of putting Hanson in his place, just isn’t going to happen. I feel Hanson will be a good player, but he isn’t yet

      • The post does not say they would replace Walker with Hanson, just says that Kang gives them the flexibility to trade Walker and that the Nats are a team looking for a 2nd basemen that will help them win now. I also mentioned the Nats are in win now mode so they would not want Hanson starting for them, just as the Pirates are in contending mode and would not want Hanson starting for them, the wild card in this is Kang.

        • It’s more likely that Hansen becomes valuable when Alvarez is moved, not Walker. Not that Hansen replaces Pedro directly, but the mix of Harrison, Mercer, Walker, Kang gets moved around to have Hansen play 2nd base replacing the lowest performing of the 4 when his quality of regular play exceeds theirs. That said Hansen should play AAA to possibly be ready, at the earliest, for MLB in the spring of 2016.

  • Realisitcally, talk of Hanson doing anything positive for us this year is ridiculous. The whole thing about age at level is overrated. Players who are at levels higher than usual have more talent than usual so lets throw that out i’m tired of hearing about it. Now, lets focus on what he can do. He can get his attitude under control, he can actually dominate a level, and maybe learn to play consistent defense. Until that happens, he shouldn’t even be out of Altoona, it is better that he learn THERE, and not keeping getting pushed to levels where he is already expected to have a good attitude and make routine plays. He isn’t and won’t be able to add anything to a big league team this year, not a competitive team looking to win the series anyways. The only way he is seeing time in Pittsburgh this year outside of an emergency, is with Houston

  • With all the excitement over Jung-Ho Kang, it’s easy to forget about Hanson but he could potentially contribute to the team this year. Although, I think it would be best for him to develop over a full year at Indy if possible.

    • ResistanceIsUseless
      January 3, 2015 10:10 am

      Having seen him a few times last year, I was surprised they moved him up to AAA.

      • He spent the entire year at Altoona

        • ResistanceIsUseless
          January 3, 2015 10:16 am

          Yes, but everything I’ve read says Hanson will be playing in Indy in 2015. FWIW, I don’t think he’s shown he’s ready for that level.

          • He likely will move up, but it hasn’t been decided yet. I think people forget that he was extremely young for AA. He could repeat the level in 2015 and still be one of the youngest players in the league. Defensively he needs the work, so I wouldn’t be surprised to not see him until September in Pittsburgh, but on offense, he will be ready for the jump to AAA.

            • John, it’s not like he was rushed or skipped a level, he got started in pro ball early, this isn’t some high school kid that got drafted and played his first ball at 19 like most people at that level, if not coming out of college and getting there at 22. Lets stop looking at age and look at years in pro ball, every dominican signed at 16 with his talent would have been at AA at his age

              • His age matters when you look at the ages of who he is playing against and their maturity, he clearly does not have the maturity of those players, he does appear to have their talent however, but his immaturity has been singled out from time to time.

                • That being said, John hasn’t alluded to his maturity. I have, and its why he needs to stay where he is.

                  • I’ve mentioned his maturity numerous times in the past. There will be news on him shortly that will show what the Pirates think about him. I’ll probably post in Monday’s winter leagues article

                  • I agree, he needs to stay in the minors for now, where I don’t know.

              • Just from stats alone Hanson looks ready for AAA at the plate. He handled himself decently at AA even in 2013 when he got the call at 20. His patience could improve a little but he made decent contact. He can work on his defense at Indy and face veteran pitchers while he’s at it. With that being said Indy has a lot of MI choices so a month or two at Altoona isn’t a big deal. At this point he should dominate in AA though. With the Pirates situation I don’t look at him as a June call up but a late summer guy that can be called up for a switch-hitting pinch-hitter and pinch running spark.

                • Let him dominate AA, let him mature a little and see how he handles a leadership role at Altoona. Stats are just stats, and his defense is way more important than whether or not he is ready to hit at Indy, honestly……who cares? It means nothing. Teach him a lesson that until he gets his attitude together, he is sitting his ass in Altoona. I don’t see how he has any value as a rookie pinch hitting or pinch running, rookies aren’t good base runners unless they can steal 50+ bases, and Hanson isn’t a good base stealer yet, that’s another issue he can work on

                  • Well, I think if they think his bat is ready for Indy and he goes there to start and hits it means a lot. I agree with the maturity issues holding him back though… All I know about immature players is if you are hearing about stuff, it is often only the tip of the iceberg. Tabata had maturity issues though and has been mostly problem free since he has reached his mid 20’s. (Or late 20’s depending on how old you think he is.) Personally, I would love to see hanson at AA, but completely understand and would not be surprised if he is at Altoona.

                • ResistanceIsUseless
                  January 5, 2015 10:00 am

                  Defensively he wasn’t that good at AA, at least when I saw him. Not a lot of errors, but a lot of bobbled balls that made me cringe, expecting an error. Hopefully that improves. I don’t expect him in Pittsburgh at all in 2015.

              • He was in the GCL at 18 and West Virginia at 19, so yes that is being rushed, but he was rushed because he was good. He is right where he is supposed to be for a good prospect. I’m not sure exactly what you’re getting at because it sounds like you’re knocking him and building him up at the same time. You have to be good to get signed at 16, move up after one year in the DSL, move up to Low-A after one year in the GCL and only spend half a year at High-A. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t young for the level though. The average age in the Eastern League was 24.7 years, so someone that turned 22 in October is very young for the level. They drafted 15 players this year that are older than him. JaCoby Jones has five months on him and people praised what he did in Low-A.

                • John: And at WV as a 19 year old, I thought he was the POY instead of Gregory Polanco. He played all of 2014 as a 21 year old, and will play all of 2015 as a 22 year old. I think what people see or hear is that he had issues because he was benched by his coach. He is a ballplayer and he gets pissed when he knows he is not playing up to his own standards. I have yet to hear anything that would indicate he is a detriment to a team, and Character and Attitude are just a part of the measurement criteria used by MLB when evaluating Prospects. He was the #75 Prospect last year, and will probably move up to #65 for 2015.

                  A Switchhitting leadoff batter who hits for an inordinate number of Extra Base Hits, including HR’s, and has the footspeed to steal a base when needed. His D at 2B has been better than what he was doing at SS, and he needs to be at AAA to start 2015 and be available to the Pirates after June if the need is presented. He is also a very large trading chip, and there is no need for him to repeat AA. I think he has had more than 500 AB’s at AA and has hit well – if it is his D or attitude we are concerned with, then AAA Indy is the best location for his continued development.

      • I’m surprised they didn’t trade him after all the discipline issues. Pittsburgh doesn’t roll with that

        • He’s too valuable to deal really. At least if he can stay in the infield. MIs that consistently put up .750 OPS season are so rare now. Throw in the speed and switch-hitting and he is a commodity that few teams have in the high minors. I like the idea of holding onto him until he fails at 2B. If he becomes an OF his value drops a little and probably a lot to the Pirates who have a crowded OF. Still, if he is putting up a .280/.330/.440/.770 season at AAA he has big trade value even as a 22-23 year old OF.

          • I don’t think him in the OF is even in the realm of possibility, not sure where that came from. If he fails at 2b, he won’t have any trade value, so your statement doesn’t make a lot of sense. He doesn’t have enough power to play anything but center, and there is no reason to believe he’d be good at center field.

            • If he can’t play 2B the next step is the OF. He most certainly will still have value in the OF if he develops into the bat he can become. Billy Hamilton’s career path: SS, 2B, soon to be elite CF.

            • Alfonso Soriano played a horrible 2B for years though in the mlb…but defense never stopped the Yankees from playing Jeter at SS or Bernie Williams in CF…so I guess this argument makes no point other than if you have a great bat teams might possibly put up with deficient defense.