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Alen Hanson is primed for a breakout

It took, well, longer than anticipated.

USA Today/Peter Rogers Illustrations

We will get to Alen Hanson in a moment, but first let me boast on my pedestal a bit. Since I wrote the article about Brian Anderson on April 25th, here’s what he has done:

  • PA: 48
  • Hits: 13
  • Doubles: 3
  • HR: 1
  • Runs: 7
  • RBI’s: 6
  • Avg: .289/OBP: .333/SLG: .422

So I’m reiterating, he’s UNDER-OWNED. His BABIP is a bit high but he’s still a very serviceable player.

After highlighting a very patient batter, I will go the opposite direction with today’s highlighted player. There has been no shortage of articles written about this prospect over the years, going back to 2012.

A Brief History

The Dominican native, who is currently 25 years old, has quite a story to tell. He was signed as an International Free Agent by Pittsburgh in 2009 going into their Rookie league the next year working his way up over the years. In 2011, he made his way to lower A ball, in 2012 single A, double A in 2013, triple A in 2015 finally breaking into the major league in 2016 playing 27 games for the Pirates with a handful of runs, 1 RBI and a .226 batting average. He had held on to his status as one of the higher up prospects over the years with a lot of eyes gleaning on him as he advanced to the big stage.

This is where things get interesting.

Alen begins 2017 on the 40-man roster, however, Pittsburgh could not send him down to the minors as he was out of the three available player ‘options’ that teams have when sending players to the minor league. So he started in the bigs with Pittsburgh from the start of 2017 until the end of May hitting a paltry 11 hits, 8 runs, 1 RBI and 2 SB for a .193 batting average across 59 at bats. The team couldn’t take the results and designated him for assignment on June 2nd.

The Chicago White Sox claimed Alen off waivers adding him to their 25 man roster. He improved mildly, batting .231 with 28 runs and 10 RBI’s across 175 at bats with the Sox through the remainder of 2017. The team non-tendered Alen who in the span of 2 years went from an above average prospect to a free agent in the MLB pool.

Next up comes the Giants, who signed him in December of 2017. He began the 2018 season in AAA tearing the cover off the ball with3 Home Runs, 17 runs, 9 RBI’s and a .403 batting average across 71 at bats. The team promoted him to the bigs on April 28th and that is the history catching everyone up to his time with the Giants this year.

Since being called up, Alen has made the most of his time with the Giants batting .286 with a .306 OBP, .571 slugging percentage and 2 Home Runs, 5 Runs, 8 RBI’s and 2 Stolen Bases in just 10 games (36 AB) with the team (good enough to be 113th in the last two weeks despite playing 3-4 games fewer then most players) At first I assumed it was his BABIP which was inflated at .423 with the Giants AAA affiliate (Sacramento River Cats), but he is currently at .296 which is somewhat in line with his career line. He has been consistent too, this strong production wasn’t driven off 2-3 really good games, he has collected a hit in 7 of his 10 games and had a double in four consecutive games late last week.

Reasons To Be Cautious

It’s clear he is swinging a lot, his career 5-7% walk rate is down to 2.8% (narrow sample size) but his K% is right in line with his career norms at 16.7%. His line drive % is actually down from his normal rate at 10.3% to his career average in the mid-teens. In turn, his flyball rate is up from a normal 30% to 45% as is his pull rate up from 45% to 55%. To me, it’s clear he’s trying to put more mustard into his swing which has upped his fly ball and pull rates allowing him to drive more natural power into his hit.

He’s Worth the Risk

All of this is assuredly way too early to decipher a lot but it is definitely a very promising trend from a good prospect who made the most coming into this season to pave a path of success going forward. He is 15% owned and I imagine this ownership percentage will continue to ascend quickly if he can continue even at 90% of what he is producing right now.

90% of what he has done in the first 10 games this season would be:

  • .257 AVG/ .275 OBP/ .514 SLG
  • 73 Runs
  • 116 RBIs
  • 29 Stolen Bases

Even as a ceiling I think those numbers are worth the gamble.