Alen Hanson is the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month For May

We have written a lot this month about how Alen Hanson has been a slow starter the last few years, only to pick up the pace once the calendar turns to May. Hanson did just that in a big way this year, hitting for a .362/.403/.595 line with three homers in 133 plate appearances for Indianapolis. The performance was good enough for him to be named the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for the month of May.

Hanson got off to a slow start this year, hitting for a .234/.289/.260 line in 84 plate appearances during the month of April. That’s similar to how he started last year with Altoona, posting a .607 OPS in April, before going on to post an .803 OPS in May, and an .804 OPS the rest of the way at the level. In 2013 he had another slow start, with a .654 OPS in Bradenton. He rebounded with an .840 OPS in May, and had an .827 OPS outside of April in his entire time in Bradenton.

The encouraging thing is that Hanson limited his struggles to April over the last few years. That’s a positive sign for his performance the rest of the way. The downside here is that he might not get an opportunity this year for significant playing time in the majors. Even if there was an injury to Neil Walker, the Pirates would likely turn to Jung-ho Kang, thus putting Jordy Mercer back in as the regular shortstop. Sean Rodriguez might also be an option over Hanson.

The Pirates could eventually opt to bring Hanson up in a bench role to ease him into the majors. That might give them a low-risk chance of seeing if he can take over as the starting second baseman sooner, than later. But even that role would require an injury or two for Hanson to have a path cleared to the majors. So expect more strong hitting from him in Indianapolis until an opportunity presents itself.

UPDATE: Hanson has been named the International League Player of the Month for May.

Players of the Month by Level

Indianapolis – Alen Hanson, 3B (.362/.403/.595, 133 PA, 3 HR)

Altoona – Josh Bell, 1B (.337/.411/.462, 125 PA, 1 HR)

Bradenton – Austin Meadows, CF (.302/.393/.396, 123 PA, 1 HR)

West Virginia – Michael Suchy, RF (.245/.368/.372, 115 PA, 1 HR)

  • peanutbutterguts
    June 3, 2015 10:24 pm

    Free agents after next year

  • Christopher B
    June 1, 2015 7:47 pm

    Love the on-base skills all four guys on this list are showing, but I’d like to see a bit more power out of Bell and a lot more out of Meadows. I’m sure that will come. The averages imply some good contact, just have to find the gaps and the area beyond the fences now.

  • piraterican21
    June 1, 2015 5:37 pm

    Two comments, I don’t understand the whole Neil to 1b argument, he will have very little value as a 1b and his range is only going to get worse, the best possible outcome for the team is that he gets traded. On Hanson, he will fill a spot that is lacking at the big league club, lead off. Base on that believe I foresee him becoming our 2b by mid season next year.

    • I disagree about NW value at first. Defensively the guy has done well at all the positions assigned. He will not hurt you with his glove at first.

      • Agreed. And it saves a roster spot. Not like the Bucs 1b platoons have set the world on fire the past few years. Plus, a move to 1b likely reduces Walker’s value – and thus his cost to Bucs. So slide him over to 1b, let him get fat and add power while waiting for Bell to find his own power.

        I also don’t think PRNW has significant trade value due to age, injury history and cost.

  • Matthew Tutino
    June 1, 2015 4:13 pm

    With your new subscription money, will you be able to hand a real trophy or plaque over to the winner of this monthly award?

  • I agree the chances of seeing Hanson playing in Pittsburgh this season are slim, but I could argue the team would score more runs and be better defensively with him starting at 2B and Walker at 1B right now.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    June 1, 2015 1:58 pm

    Long term, I think Hanson is the second baseman, and I would like to see Walker slide over to first base – where he would likely be a gold glover compared to what we have there now. We could then trade Alvarez and see what we can get for him, before he walks as a free agent.

    • PRNW is a free agent after this year, also. Don’t you want to see what we can get for him, too?

      • Free agent after next year

      • They are both free agents after next year.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        June 1, 2015 10:27 pm

        I’d like to see the Pirates extend Walker, and trade or let Alvarez walk….I could see Walker being a very good first baseman until Bell is ready

        • That would be way too easy. Hanson has everything needed by the Pirates at 2B/leadoff, but if Philly ever decided to get on with rebuilding, he would be the guy I would go after immediately. Utley is struggling badly and needs 500 PA’s in 2015 to qualify his option automatically for 2016 – time to play hardball and get a great rebuilding chip in the process.