Outfielder Alex Hassan probably isn't the first guy who comes to mind when you think of Boston Red Sox prospects. As a 20th-round draft pick from 2009, that is to be expected.
However, Hassan is producing and has soared up the ranks in the Red Sox farm system. Hassan is leading all Sox prospects in hitting with a slash line of .408/.492/.490 for Double A Portland. He currently has 49 at- bats on the season, with an 8/5 BB/K ratio, and is the midst of a twelve game hit streak. Hassan just turned 23 on April 1st, so he is still young with a lot of room to develop.
His hot start this year shouldn't be that surprising, since he was actually quite good last year for High-A Salem, hitting .284/.393/.452, which earned him a brief three-game appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket. It is interesting that Hassan gets so little attention. He is a Quincy, Massachusetts native, and Boston fans and media usually love highlighting players from New England
Hassan (6'4, 200 lbs) played his collegiate ball as a pitcher at Duke, but he made a big impression with his bat during his 2009 stint in Cape Cod. For this reason, the Red Sox drafted him as an outfielder. He is a good hitter, hits the ball hard and often makes contact. He has a very open stance and closes all the way once he steps into the pitch. Some scouts have worried that his swing mechanics, which look long, could result in too many strikeouts, but his K-rates haven't been that high, and his BB/K ratio is even better this year in the early going. His career BB/K is 75/92 in 611 plate appearances.
With a solid frame, he has considerable power potential, but he will have to refine his swing if he wants to become a big time power hitter. He has 40 career doubles to his credit, but just 10 homers. He does get jammed inside on high velocity pitches, which is another concern that scouts have, but so far it hasn't hurt him in Double-A.
Even if the power develops, his biggest assets is that he has always puts up a good OBP and has a very good eye at the plate. Hassan has had a very high BABIP this season, .488, which can't be sustained for long, so expect his batting average to decline, but the fact that he's still controlling the strike zone well in Double-A is a good sign.
Hassan should continue to make strides this season. Most experts don't consider him to be a top-20 prospect in the Boston organization, but his play and development deserve more recognition. I think he qualifies as a sleeper prospect.