Let’s be honest—the days of Alen Hanson as a big prospect have come and passed. Yet here he is on the Major League roster, out of options, on his last chance with the Pirates. With Jung Ho Kang stuck in Korea, Starling Marte serving an 80-game suspension, Adam Frazier on the DL and the Pirates defense a complete circus, wouldn’t you give Hanson every shot to prove himself?
At this point when players start to return and other names come up from Indy, Hanson being designated for assignment is almost inevitable. And that’s a shame. Hanson as a major prospect is gone, but I believe he can still be an effective Major League starter at second base. I’m just afraid it won’t happen here, and I’m not sure why.
Hanson barely made the team out of spring training and had Kang been sober this offseason, he may be on another team’s roster right now. But so far through 20 games into 2017, Hurdle has given Hanson just two starts and a bunch of late inning defensive replacements and random at-bats here and there. He’s 2-for-14 with a stolen base in the limited at-bats. Being that he is out of options, was once considered the future at second base and on a team that’s already missing a ton of regulars, wouldn’t you allow him every chance to prove himself?
Hanson is still just 24 years old and still under 50 at-bats in the Majors between limited time this year and last season. It was the same story with Hurdle last season as well. After Hanson was called up in September and the team not going to the playoffs, Hanson received limited at-bats here and there and never started games until the final series versus the Cardinals. That’s ridiculous for a team that was headed nowhere last September. What are they so afraid of? Give the kid a shot.
Hanson has lost a lot of his luster from his big 2012 season where he recorded a .909 OPS with 62 extra-base hits, including 13 triples at Low-A West Virginia. But the upper levels of the Pirates affiliates aren’t exactly the greatest hitting ballparks in the minors. In 907 ABs at Triple-A Indy, Hanson hit an eh slash line of .265/.316/.388 for a .704 OPS. Not the greatest slash line in the world, but Indy is a tough place to hit and he still managed 32 doubles, 19 triples and 14 home runs there. Not to compare him to McCutchen, but Cutch’s slugging percentage in his main season at Indy in ’08 was .398. It’s a tough park to hit for power.
Hanson also has the speed and at least the skills to be a good glove in the Majors. He had 71 steals in his Triple-A career, and has a good glove but can also be frustrating at times when he boots a routine play or throws one away like he did last night in just his second start this season.
Bottom line is I’m not ready to give up on Hanson like Hurdle has apparently done. With news of Gift Ngoepe‘s rumored call up, David Freese probably hitting the DL and Frazier’s DL stint, there’s no reason not to give Hanson the reigns at second base and give him a real shot to prove himself. Maybe Alen Hanson isn’t the answer at second base or even a Major League starter, but I’d like to find out now instead of watching him succeed somewhere else in another uniform.