It’s April 20th, less than three weeks into the regular season and there is already a lot of talk about some performances of prospects. No one else is attracting more attention than 19-year old shortstop Alen Hanson.
Through 14 games, Hanson is hitting .400/.446/.783 with seven doubles, 2 triples, and four home runs for the West Virginia Power. He is currently on a 10-game hitting streak and has registered an extra base hit in each of his last seven games.
So where did Hanson come from?
Hanson was signed in July of 2009 as an International Free Agent at the age of 16 out of the Dominican Republic.
He started his professional career in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 at age 17 and hit .324/.383/.487 in 68 games. He didn’t show much power with just 10 doubles and two homers, but he did hit seven triples and stole 20 bases.
Hanson spent almost all of last season in the Gulf Coast League where he started at shortstop and hit lead off. He hit .263/.352/.429 over 55 games before getting called up for three games with the State College Spikes. It is obvious that Hanson has speed and possessed gap power. He hit two homers, 13 doubles, and seven triples while stealing 24 bases in just his 2nd year as a pro.
It was a shock to many that Hanson made the jump this year to full-season ball to start the year. What that shows is that the Pirates think pretty highly of the switch-hitting shortstop and are being pretty aggressive with him.
The start to this season really can not be going any better for Hanson, but it is not the first time we have seen this out of him. He posted an OPS well over 1.000 the first month of his 2011 campaign and tailed off after that. Now, it would be almost impossible for Hanson to continue at the pace he has jump started his season to, but the big thing to look for now is if he can avoid a sharp decrease in production as the season goes along.
This will be his first season in a full season league with the daily grind of Minor League Baseball. If he is able to continue to impress over the coming months, Hanson will shoot up prospect lists and make all of us extremely happy. Because when it comes to shortstop prospects, Pirates fans have not had much to get excited about in the recent years. Hanson is someone who possesses all the tools and attributes you want in a middle infield prospect. It is still very, very early in his development, but so far, so good.