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MLB Rookie Profile: Alen Hanson, INF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Can 24-year-old infielder Alen Hanson find his way off the Pirates bench into a larger role?

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Here’s another MLB rookie profile: Alen Hanson of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

From the Dominican Republic, Hanson was signed by the Pirates as a free agent back in 2010. He quickly distinguished himself as one of the best prospects in the system, showing off speed as well as some power potential, particularly during a strong 2012 season in Low-A (.309/.381/.528, 33 doubles, 13 triples, 16 homers, 35 steals). However, his tools were ahead of his skills and the lack of refinement was exposed as he moved up. There were also some questions about his attitude and makeup.

Hanson posted very similar 2015 and 2016 seasons in Triple-A, hitting .263/.313/.387 and .266/.318/.389 respectively. By the end of 2016 he was seen as a future utility man rather than a top prospect.

He ranked 14th on the Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 prospects list for 2017 with the following commentary:

14) Alen Hanson, INF-OF, Grade C+: Age 24, hit .266/.318/.389 with eight homers, 36 steals, 32 walks, 78 strikeouts in 432 at-bats in Triple-A; second very similar season at this level; 60-grade speed and aggressive about using it; switch-hitter who can flash power; uneven feel for strike zone; being groomed as super-utility type with abilities at second, third, shortstop, and outfield; tools still draw praise, skills are present often enough to keep him in the picture but never quite reaching consistency; may need change of scenery. ETA 2017.

Hanson had a solid spring training, hitting .333/.393/.426 with six walks and 10 strikeouts in 54 at-bats.

A switch-hitter, Hanson continues to demonstrate impressive athleticism with 60 or 65 running speed, plenty of quickness afield, and enough wiry strength to be an extra-base threat. He can still be sloppy as a baserunner, though his speed compensates for some mistakes. He doesn’t strike out excessively but is aggressive and doesn’t draw a ton of walks either.

Hanson spent the early part of his career at shortstop but didn’t show sufficient reliability to play there as a regular in the majors. At this point he is a super-utility type, available for action at second, third, short, and left field. He’s not great anywhere, but versatility is an asset in itself. While he will botch the occasional routine opportunity, he has enough athleticism to pull off some spectacular plays.

Out of options, Hanson played well enough in spring training to hold his roster spot on the Pirates bench. At age 24 he is still young enough to take on a larger role eventually.