Alec Hansen has had quite the topsy-turvy past few years, but the latest turn in his professional career is a positive one.
After leading minor league baseball in strikeouts in 2017 (191 in 141 1/3 innings), Hansen looked more like Nuke Laloosh than a key prospect in the White Sox rebuild in 2018. He walked 42 batters in 35 2/3 innings in Double-A Birmingham and didn’t fare much better after getting demoted to Single-A Winston-Salem.
The White Sox tried a different method with Hansen in 2019 and so far the results are encouraging. Coming out of the bullpen for Winston-Salem, the 24-year-old was nearly unhittable. As a result, he got promoted back to Birmingham on Saturday.
Hansen made nine relief appearances for the Dash and gave up just one hit in 12 2/3 innings. He struck out 21 (out of 47 batters faced) while walking seven. The strikeouts and the lone hit allowed show that he was overpowering Carolina League batters, although the walks are still on the high side.
The big guy is moving on up.— Winston-Salem Dash (@WSDashBaseball) May 4, 2019
Congrats to Alec Hansen, who has earned a promotion to the Double-A @BhamBarons.
His final stats for us: 2.13ERA,12.2IP, 1H, 21K, .025 AVG against pic.twitter.com/V3SbHUg42o
During a recent White Sox broadcast, Winston-Salem manager Justin Jirschele called in as an interview guest. He said Hansen is “genuinely enjoying coming to the ballpark.” That’s a drastic difference from his 2018, which he said “just kind of spiraled.”
Jirschele used one word to describe Hansen’s stuff: powerful. The numbers back that up.
“He’s coming right at guys,” Jirschele said. “He’s coming at them with authority and he’s getting ahead with his fastball. Then he’s got the breaking ball to go with it. He’s been tremendous. He’s been able to duplicate pitches. He’s been able to keep his delivery where he wants it and command the fastball first and foremost and go from there. We’ve been happy with what he’s shown this year and the strides he’s made.”
As Hansen returns to Birmingham and the Southern League, it will be interesting to see how the White Sox use him. He missed months of action in 2018 due to a forearm injury. Couple that with his erratic command and the White Sox are taking things cautiously with Hansen this season. If he can show consistent command for Birmingham, he could be once again be a key piece for the future of the White Sox, even if that is as an impact reliever.