Six months ago, University of Oklahoma right-hander Alex Hansen was a candidate to go number one overall. Alas, his spring campaign for the Sooners has been a disappointment, knocking down his stock considerably and probably out of the first round completely.
Scouts have loved Hansen's physical potential since high school. From Loveland, Colorado, the 6-7, 215 pound right-hander was drafted in the 25th round in 2013 by the home-state Colorado Rockies. That was all a matter of signability: he had a first round arm but was raw and strongly committed to college.
After throwing just 10 innings as a freshman in 2014, he moved into a full-time starting role in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA in 82 innings with a 94/44 K/BB and zero homers allowed. Unfortunately the 2016 results have been much weaker: 5.40 ERA in 52 innings, 75/39 K/BB. He's given up just 44 hits and the strikeout rate is excellent, rising from 10.32 last spring to 13.06 this year, but deterioration in his control has resulted in reduced overall effectiveness, to the point that he lost his spot in the Oklahoma starting rotation.
As you'd imagine from the strikeout rates, Hansen has plenty of stuff, with a fastball at 93-97 with peaks at 98-99. The heater has good movement, too, and rates as a 70 pitch for most observers. Both his slider and curveball have plus moments and he's occasionally shown a workable change-up. When he's right, Hansen shows the potential for at least three plus pitches.
Alas, all the stuff in the world doesn't matter if you can't put it where you want it in the strike zone. Hansen has been unable to develop any mechanical consistency, putting the kibosh on any sense of control. College hitters have succeeded against him and pro hitters would certainly do so as well if he can't lock down his delivery. He also has a history of nagging injuries, adding health risk to the mix.
Hansen is a definitely a project but the upside remains enticing. A team who thinks he'll respond to pro coaching more effectively than college coaching will still pick him early, perhaps as soon as the compensation round.