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Going deep with Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco

One of the great things about the player development process is the emergence of young toolsy players who were once only twinkles in the eyes of an amateur scout trying to convince ownership to “dream on the talent”, and who are now legitimate major league prospects. Such is the case for two young Dominicans in the Pittsburgh organization: 19 year-old Alen Hanson and 20 year-old Gregory Polanco.

Alen Hanson

Name: Alen Hanson DOB: October 22, 1992 BP: Dominican Republic
Ht: 5-11  Weight: 185 Bats: Switch  Throws: Right

Year

Class

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

OBP

C%

BB%

BABIP

2012 Low-A

489

99

16

62

35

.309

.381

78.5

11.2

.365

In 2010, Alen Hanson showed a lot of promise as a 17 year-old in the DSL, batting .324 with a 37K/20BB strikeout-to-walk ratio and stealing 20 of 28 bases.  Scouts loved the speed but also saw power projection in the bat.  In 2011, Hanson continued to develop with nearly identical statistics with a dip in batting average a result of a more normalized BABIP.  The biggest concern was whether he would be able to stick at shortstop or would the keystone be his eventual position.  However, as 2012 rolled in, Hanson was barely considered a prospect as Baseball America had him listed as the #27 prospect in the Pittsburgh organization.  However, 2012 saw a huge step forward for Alen Hanson to move from “potential” to real prospect.

When you first see Hanson, you’re struck with how much he’s filled out since being drafted as a 16 year-old.  While others are concerned with his ability to stick at shortstop, I saw a graceful defender with nice lateral movement and an adequate arm to make the throw from deep in the hole.  I grade his glove and arm as average to slightly above average (50-55).

Hanson speed is obvious as I clocked him at 4.18 on a dig down the line to first and would rate his speed as a 65; not a burner but enough speed and base stealing ability to steal 30+ bases at the major league level.  His approach at the plate was solid, although there was some anxiousness early in the count, but once he had a two-strike count, his stroke shorten.  What I was really struck with was the solid contact Hanson made.  His hands are quick and while he could improve on how long the bat stays in the zone, it’s easy to now to see what scouts saw in his power potential.  I see a current 50 grade power with a chance to grow into a 60 grade power once he fully matures.

Hanson will start the 2013 season at Bradenton in the Florida State League and given the large ballparks, a dip in power could be a result.  However, I’m totally in on Alen Hanson and rated him at #47 in my Mid Season Top 50.

Gregory Polanco

Name: Gregory Polanco DOB: September 14, 1991 BP: Dominican Republic
Ht: 6-4  Weight: 170 Bats: Left Throws: Left

Year

Class

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

OBP

C%

BB%

BABIP

2012 Low-A

437

84

16

85

40

.325

.388

85.4

10.1

.351

One of the best things about watching minor league baseball is being surprised by somebody in which you had never heard.  That’s what happened when I saw Gregory Polanco.  He flat out looks like a baseball player and man does he have tools.  While he’s listed at 170, he’s got to weigh 200-210 lbs.

Polanco has a really nice lefty swing who can flat out play.  I can’t remember the last time I saw someone with a stride as long as he has when he is galloping in the outfield.  It’s almost freakish, but wow, can he cover ground.  His arm is also plus, which helped him lead the Sally league in outfield assist in 2012.  He’s playing center field now, but at 6-4, he eventually projects to a corner outfielder.

In 2012, he had an 85% contact rate with great plate discipline and an approach that will definitely play at the major league level.  I saw him grind out numerous plate appearances and then take a walk.  Granted, it was Low-A pitching, but the plate appearances were impressive.  With his size and natural loft in his bat, I see plus power developing with the opportunity to hit 25+ home runs at the major league level.  Finally his speed is plus, but as he fills out, I don’t see him continuing to steal 40 bases.  However, as with many young players, the speed with continue for several years before tailing off.

So, who’s the better prospect?  Alen Hanson is for now given he plays at a premium position and I don’t believe Gregory Polanco will stay in centerfield.  Hanson is a natural leadoff hitter and Polanco will eventually turn into a #5 hitter with the ability to hit for power and by batting order, drive in runs.  If I’m drafting in a dynasty league next spring, I’d be happy to have either player and would put Hanson in the queue first, followed very shortly by Polanco.

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