White Sox

Just how impressive was Alec Hansen striking out Joey Votto in a spring training game?

One of the more fun parts of Thursday's edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast was finding out while recording that pitching prospect Alec Hansen struck out Joey Votto in a Cactus League game.

You can listen to our reaction, but how about a little more insight into just how impressive it was that Hansen got Votto to punch out on just three pitches?

For those who might not know — after all, Votto does play in the National League — the Cincinnati Reds' first baseman has one of the best batting eyes in baseball history. His .428 career on-base percentage is the highest among active players, and it ranks 11th all-time. Three times during his career he's led baseball in on-base percentage and three times he's led baseball in walks, including last year, when it could be argued that he should have been named the NL MVP. Votto finished the 2017 regular season with an out-of-this-world .454 on-base percentage and 134 walks, leading the game in both categories, and a 1.032 OPS, best in the NL. He played in all 162 games for the Reds and struck out only 83 times, a career low.

And then there's the fact that Hansen's strikeout of Votto came on only three pitches. For context — provided by the great Chris Kamka — just 12 of Votto's 83 strikeouts in 2017 came on three pitches. Of the 1,087 times Votto has struck out in his 11-year career, only 147 were on three pitches.

So what Hansen did wasn't just impressive. It's practically unheard of.

Of course, this was a spring training game, so none of it really matters at all. But what a thing for the 23-year-old minor league hurler to say he did. Last season, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts in 141.1 innings, splitting time between both of the White Sox Class A affiliates and Double-A Birmingham.

Hansen was recently ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox system and the No. 54 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

White Sox fans usually don't need any more reasons to get excited about the future of the franchise. But Hansen sitting down Votto on three pitches? That's some excitement fuel right there.