Alen Hanson was signed as an international free agent in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Initially he wasn’t looked at as a top prospect; it wasn’t until before the 2013 season that he was ranked on anyone’s top 100 prospects list. Prior to 2013, Hanson was ranked 61 by “Baseball America” and 54 by MLB.com.
Hanson isn’t very big at just 5-foot-11 and 152-pounds. He has plus-speed on the bases with 109 stolen bases in his four-year minor league career. Defensively, Hanson has some questions he needs to answer at shortstop before he reaches the big leagues. He has excellent range, but according to “Baseball America” his arm may fit better at second base rather than shortstop. Throughout his minor league career, Hanson has shown a lack of consistency with his glove. He has a tendency to make the great play, but he will make an error on a routine ground ball on the next play. His consistency improved in 2013, but it still isn’t to the point where the Pirates should feel completely confident with his defense moving forward.
Hanson’s first remarkable season that put him on the prospect map was 2012 with the West Virginia Power, the Pirates’ A-ball team. In 558 plate appearances, Hanson hit for a .309/.381/.528 slash line with a .909 OPS. He hit 16 home runs and stole 35 bases in 2012. Along with his great traditional numbers, Hanson also put up decent peripherals. He walked in a career-high 9.9 percent of his plate appearances and struck out in 18.8 percent. Striking out in 18.8 percent of his plate appearances isn’t great, but for a young player from the Dominican Republic, walking nearly ten percent of the time and striking out less than 20 percent is actually quite impressive.
Hanson was promoted to Double-A halfway through the season in 2013. In his 35 games with the Altoona Curve the shortstop struggled to find his offense. In 150 plate appearances, Hanson hit for a .255/.299/.380 line with a .679 OPS in addition to one home run and stole six bases.
Hanson will start the 2014 season in Double-A and will probably be promoted to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians at some point in the second half of the season. If Hanson handles Triple-A pitching well enough, it isn’t out of the question that he could be playing for the Pirates by June or July of 2015.