We continue our look at the top prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape this morning, with a look at the White Sox 14th ranked prospect, Alec Hansen.
Alec Hansen was once thought to be a sure bet to be chosen early in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, in fact Hansen was even talented enough to be taken inside of the first five rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft out of high school by his home-town team, the Colorado Rockies. Unfortunately, after a rough 2016 season with the Oklahoma Sooners, Hansen’s draft stock took a turn for the worst.
In 2016, Hansen struggled to find the strike zone in his final college season, pitching to a 3-5 record with a 5.40 ERA, Hansen walked 39 hitters in 51.2 innings of work with the Sooners. A tough break for a pitcher who was believed to have a great chance at becoming the number one pick in the MLB Draft heading into his final season of collegiate ball.
The six-foot-seven right-hander out of Loveland, Colorado still however, had enough raw talent for the White Sox to take a chance on him in the second round of this past June’s Major League Baseball Draft, and sign him to a $1.2 million dollar contract.
Hansen, 22, began his professional career with the White Sox pitching for the Great Falls Voyagers, the White Sox rookie ball affiliate, before being elevated to low-A ball pitching for the Kannapolis Intimidators.
Hansen adjusted well to the professional game, going 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched with the Voyagers. Over his time with Great Falls, Hansen showed no indications that his control hiccups from his collegiate season would follow him to the professional level, walking just 12 hitters while striking out 59 in his 36.2 inning pitched.
Hansen looked like a man on a mission, a mission to prove all of the doubters wrong, to prove that the White Sox made a great decision to take a gamble on him in the second round. On draft night, not many White Sox fans were too excited by the pick, and some draft experts were equally unenthusiastic about the selection.
Hansen complied a combined 2-1 record with a 1.32 ERA over the course of 54.2 innings pitched in 2016, including seven scoreless innings, in which he allowed only one hit during the Arizona Fall League. Over that span, Hansen struck out 81 hitters while walking just 20, and allowed only eight earned runs.
Hansen has an electric fastball that can sit anywhere between 94-97 miles per hour and reach 99 miles per hour with late running action. His fastball holds an impressive 70 rating on the 20/80 scale according to MLB Pipeline. Hansen throws both a curveball and a slider, with his curveball sitting in the upper-seventies, and his slider checking in inside of the mid-eighties range.
Hansen’s slider is the better of the two breaking balls, with some nice late movement. Hansen’s changeup is average at the moment, with the potential to improve. Hansen possesses an overpowering arsenal of pitches, and a substantial amount of raw talent, but has struggled to find a repeatable delivery, which has led to his struggles with finding the strike zone.
Hansen put together a solid summer in his first taste of professional baseball, and the White Sox are excited about it, here’s what former White Sox Director of Player Development Nick Capra had to say about the young right-hander;
“We were fortunate to get him where we did in the second round. We made a couple mechanical changes with him and his confidence grew as the summer went on,” Capra said. “He’s got a power arm, he’s got power stuff and I think the main thing we saw was his confidence really blossomed through the course of the summer.”
Hansen still has some work to do before he will see the major-league level, and will likely start the 2017 season in Winston-Salem as he looks to build on an excellent 2016 campaign within the White Sox system. Like Capra pointed out this past fall, Hansen has a tremendous amount of confidence heading into his first full professional season, and has looked terrific since the White Sox worked with him mechanically.
The 22-year-old Hansen, if he stays on the current path that he created for himself last summer, could see the major-league level at some point in 2018 or early 2019. The future looks bright for Hansen, as he could further prove the theory of many, that the 2016 draft class will be looked back upon as one of the best White Sox drafts in many years.