With all of the talent in the White Sox organization right now, lofty goals from determined youngsters is something that there’s no shortage of in the White Sox clubhouse this spring, and Alec Hansen made it known today that he has a pretty lofty goal of his own this season as well, “I don’t sit down and write goals for myself, but I would like to make my major league debut by the end of the year, that’s a goal I guess.”
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound righty is set to make his spring debut on Thursday afternoon when the White Sox take on the Cincinnati Reds in Goodyear, Arizona. While Reynaldo Lopez is the starting pitcher for the ballgame, all eyes will be on the former Oklahoma Sooner who has sky-rocketed up the prospect rankings in his short time in the White Sox system.
After falling from grace in the eyes of many major league scouts due to control issues that he struggled with in his senior season at Oklahoma in 2016, Hansen fell to the White Sox in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Hansen was dubbed the 97th best prospect in baseball prior to the 2017 season by Baseball Prospectus, and didn’t even make the top-100 list over at MLB Pipeline or Baseball America.
In 2017 Hansen posted an 11-8 record and a 2.80 ERA over the course of 141.1 innings of work, while making stops in Kannapolis (Low-A), Winston Salem (High-A), and Birmingham (Double-A). Hansen looked to regain his control that had eluded him during his senior season in Norman, and struck out 191 hitters while walking just 51 of the nearly 600 hitters that he faced.
Hansen’s stellar 12.2 K/9 ratio in 2017 fueled his ascension in the rankings of the best prospects in the game, as he checked in at No. 57 (previously not ranked) on Baseball America’s rankings, and No. 54 (previously not ranked) on MLB Pipeline’s rankings, while rising all the way to No. 40 (+57) on Baseball Prospectus’ list.
But as we know, while rankings like these can be wildly intriguing and inspiring to a fan-base, they can also be a painful exercise in futility, as the development and ultimate results hinge on much more than an evaluators take. Hansen however, lacks no confidence that he will live up to the newly regained hype surrounding his potential.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Hansen said. “I’m not too outspoken about it, but I know exactly what I’m doing and I know what I need to do to reach my potential, and get to the major leagues. That’s what I’m focused on, and I think that I’ve got my focused narrowed down, and that makes everything easier.”
The kid really does ooze a quiet, yet almost cerebral amount of confidence in himself, that when coupled with his large frame and power fastball, could spell big trouble for opposing hitters in the very near future. Lacking much visible enthusiasm, save for a smirk, Hansen said that he’s excited to get the opportunity to finally work in a live game on Thursday, “I’m excited, I think I’m one of the last ones to get on the mound,” Hansen said. “So, I’ve been waiting a while, even today I’m kind of anxious already — hopefully I can be calm tomorrow, that’s the biggest thing I’m focused on.”
Hansen noted that while he hasn’t spent much time working one-on-one with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper this spring, Coop has made it clear that working on locating his curveball for strikes is a major key in his development this year. Hansen agrees with him, and says that his goal is to prove that he has a good feel for the control of all of his pitches, and is looking to put that on display for the coaching staff this spring.
“Just that I’ve got control of all of my pitches, that’s the biggest thing,” Hansen said. “If I got control of all of my pitches then I think the sky is the limit for me — really that’s what I want to prove, is that I can throw strikes with my breaking balls and my changeup, and also consistently with my fastball.” -Hansen on what he wants to prove to the coaching staff this spring.
In line with the rest of the players in Sox camp, Hansen is loving the clubhouse environment and feels like he’s settled in and gets along well with everyone, “It’s been good,” Hansen said. “The first couple of days was just getting to know everyone, and now I’m kind of settled in. I know pretty much everyone, everyone is super friendly and gets along pretty well, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Hansen even said that he had a pretty surreal realization the other day before a game when Manager Rick Renteria was giving his pregame speech to the players, saying that he finally came to the realization that after all of his hard work, how satisfying it felt to look around and be a part of a major league clubhouse — something that Hansen will aim to make a permanent realization in the not-too-distant future.