Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hanson Hoping His Time Has Come | Former Infield Prospect Has Turned into a Utility Player

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hanson Hoping His Time Has Come | Former Infield Prospect Has Turned into a Utility Player

Article excerpt

SPRING TRAINING PITTSBURGH PIRATES

BRADENTON -- The first throw arrived on a hop. The second one got there on a line.

The third throw ... well, there wasn't a third throw. It may have only been spring training, but the Toronto Blue Jays were all done testing out the arm of Alen Hanson.

An erstwhile top infield prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization, Hanson spent last Sunday's game in left field. He threw out two runners trying to score -- Gregorio Petit and Steven Pearce -- in the fourth inning. So by the time Petit lashed a single to left two innings later, baserunner Jon Berti, who was on second, took a turn around third before being told to stay put.

"I feel very good," Hanson said.

With good reason, too, considering Hanson has a very good chance to make the 25-man roster as spring training enters its final week. Not only is the 24-year-old out of options and has to clear waivers if the Pirates try to send him to Triple-A Indianapolis, but Hanson has spent the spring shaping into a super-utility guy who could wedge himself into Pittsburgh's bench.

"I've got a lot of time here," Hanson said. "It's time for me to be in the league."

A native of the Dominican Republic, Hanson signed with the Pirates as a 17-year-old in 2010 and spent most of his professional career bouncing from second base and shortstop. Though he had his defensive deficiencies, including committing 25 errors in 92 games at short in 2013 with the high Single-A Bradenton Marauders, Hanson was ranked among the game's top 100 prospects by MLB.com from 2013-15.

Then Hanson's star fell. And the Pirates looked to another continent to find an infielder when they signed Jung Ho Kang out of Korea prior to the 2014 season.

So Hanson is trying to re-invent himself through versatility. He started in left field during Monday night's game against the Minnesota Twins at LECOM Park. …

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