BRADENTON (93-7 The Fan) – “Now batting for the Pirates, second baseman Alen Hanson.”
Pirates fans have long hoped to hear that announcement echo throughout PNC Park, and despite some bumps in the road, the wait might finally be over.READ MORE: Environmental Group Protests Proposed Fracking Project In Penn Township
Hanson has slid down the list of the Pirates’ top prospects and become an afterthought compared to the likes of Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Austin Meadows over the past couple of years, due to a variety of on-and off-the-field concerns.
Nevertheless, Hanson may have a better shot of starting 2016 season in the major leagues than any of those players do.
General Manager Neal Huntington joined “The Fan Morning Show” at McKechnie Field on Friday to discuss why Hanson could be manning second base for the Pirates on Opening Day.
While discussing Josh Harrison’s position flexibility, Huntington mentioned the possibility of Harrison playing third base and Hanson taking over for him at second should Jung Ho Kang be unavailable to start the season.
“If our best scenario ends up with Alen Hanson at second base, and Josh [Harrison] goes over to third base for a couple of weeks until Kang’s ready – or three weeks, or four weeks until Kang’s ready – then that’s the way we can play it,” Huntington said.
Huntington said that there are plenty of other options, though.READ MORE: Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccination Is Nearly 91% Effective In Children
“If our best club has Josh at second base, and Sean Rodriguez at third base, or Jason Rogers at third base, or someone that I’m missing here right now at third base, then that’s the way we can go as well,” Huntington said.
Huntington isn’t ready to christen Hanson as a major league-ready player, but if Hanson can simply perform adequately, that might be enough for him to serve as a stopgap until Kang returns.
“Alen is a very gifted player,” Huntington said. “His challenge is applying those skills on a consistent basis…We would not necessarily say he’s ready to come out and be our major-league second baseman for the rest of the season. But, could he be a two, three, four-week fill? He has the skill set to come up here and do some things.”
“We do not feel he’s ready to go be a major-league regular. But, could he come out here and take an opportunity that’s presented, without us feeling like we’re rushing him? It’s just consistency, is what’s holding Alen back, and why we haven’t thought about him as a major-league regular at this point in time.”
“So he is in a position that he could come out here, show us that he’s going to be able to make the routine plays, show us that he’s going to be able to give us some consistent at-bats, and he could start out as our second baseman.”
The interview can be heard here: