Coming off a month of May that saw him win Indianapolis Player of the Month and International League Player of the Month, Alen Hanson has seen a bit of a drop off again in June.
In May, Hanson picked up 42 hits for the month, including eight doubles, five triples and three home runs.
“A great month for Alen,” Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said. “A guy that can be an impact offensively because he can drive the ball to the gaps, he can be a tough out, he can be a threat on the bases whether it’s stealing a base or he can advance bases that you’re not expecting him to because of his speed and his instincts and his aggressiveness.”
However, in his first 58 at bats in June, Hanson is hitting just .190 with a .493 OPS. Over the span, he has only a pair of extra base hits. One consolation is that Hanson has been playing well at second base, while still in his first season at the position.
“Development at second base, making some very good strides there,” Huntington said. “We wanted to let him stay at second base to let the bat play and the bat is playing better. We’re also talking about a guy, the first three weeks of the season had his struggles.”
The April struggles for Hanson were well documented, as he hit only .234 with a .549 OPS in the first month of the season. However, Hanson had his usual rebound in May, hitting .362 with a .998 OPS.
However, the switch hitter is seeing a slight drop off against right-handed pitching. From the left side of the plate, he is .250 with a .645 OPS. Where the numbers stand out are the 21 strikeouts in 96 at bats. From the right side of the plate, he is hitting .303 with a .806 OPS, while striking out 23 times in 155 at bats.
In addition, Hanson has been looking to attack pitches early in the count. This also reflects in the numbers as he is hitting .224 with a .501 OPS while behind in the count. When he gets ahead in the count is when he does his damage, as he is hitting .315 with a 1.012 OPS.
“Great to see him progress,” Huntington said. “Still need to work on maximizing his strengths and minimizing his challenges. His one strength is that he can barrel up the baseball which also leads him to expand the zone at times. Working with him to understand what he does well and what it means when he stays within the zone and how much damage he can do when he stays within himself.”
At second base, Hanson has the offensive game to be a productive major league player. He also has the speed to be a dynamic threat, as he has stolen 17 bases and has only been caught five times.
“We left him [at second base] to simplify the process for him, to let him focus on one thing and it seems to be working so far,” Huntington said. “We’ll see where we go, big picture. We think he can be a dynamic offensive second baseman as a pretty good player.”
Hanson had a few errors early in the season, but since has been relatively flawless defensively lately, with only two errors over nearly the past month and a half. Along with the development defensively, he is also showing the range of a shortstop at the position. On Saturday night, Hanson ranged far to his left, completed a diving play, and threw out a runner after doing a somersault. Plays like this have become a nightly occurrence for the prospect.
While Hanson still has some work to do with consistency, he is clearly knocking on the door to Pittsburgh. With Neil Walker locking down second base for the time being, Hanson still has some time to find that consistency and get to where he needs to be to have the long big league career that he appears to be capable of having.