Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Camp Sensation Second Baseman Hanson Impresses with Speed, Bat in Bradenton Audition

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Camp Sensation Second Baseman Hanson Impresses with Speed, Bat in Bradenton Audition

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. - Alen Hanson has the makings of a major leaguer. Whether he'll leave spring training as a member of the Pirates' opening-day roster, however, will hinge on whether this second baseman continues to consistently turn heads the way he has so far in camp.

A single and double Monday pushed Hanson's batting line to 6 for 11 with 4 runs scored, 3 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. The Pirates have seen flash and flair that could fit nicely in the leadoff spot of the their lineup down the road.

But how far away?

"When you work in the offseason, you dream about [the majors]," Hanson said. "When you come in here and the team says, 'You have a chance to make the team,' you think a lot of things. You have to be ready when the opportunity comes."

The way manager Clint Hurdle saw it, Hanson, 23, had a couple of different seasons wrapped into one in 2015 at Class AAA Indianapolis. A quick start earned Hanson an 2015 Class AAA All- Star Game invitation and International League player of the month honors in May, when he hit .302.

On the year, he hit .265 with a .313 on-base percentage.

"More often that not, [consistency] is the challenge for these guys as they get close to the majors," Hurdle said. "That's why you call them prospects. That's why you grade tools. When the overall game comes together, that's when they get to the big leagues, and that's when they stay."

Last year, the Pirates moved Hanson, a suspect shortstop, to second base full time.

That's where they plan to keep him, Hurdle said, in order to "eliminate distractions" and let Hanson focus on making every routine play routine.

"We know he can make that spectacular play," added general manager Neal Huntington.

Watching Hanson, there's no doubt he's got a spark.

He had 12 triples in 2015 and swiped 35 bases. On Saturday, he singled, stole second and scored on Jake Goebbert's double. …

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