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Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:01am|
By Chris Hadorn
KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.
No prospect in the minors this year has perhaps improved his stock more than Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop prospect Alen Hanson. Prior to this season, the 5-foot-11, 152-pound switch-hitter was widely considered a top-of-the-order hitter with a good eye and plus speed.
Adding to his slugging game, Hanson has become more of a complete hitter this year by batting .332 with 15 home runs, 26 doubles, nine triples, 49 RBIs and a .983 OPS in 389 plate appearances with low Single-A West Virginia. This is an eye-opening breakout for the Dominican who entered this season with just four career home runs in 452 at-bats in the minors.
Base stealing is still a work-in progress for Hanson, who has been successful on only 22 of his 38 attempts this season (57.9 percent success rate).
There are skeptics who will be critical of Hanson's power surge considering he plays half his games at a hitter friendly park in Appalachian Power Park.
However, Hanson is only 19, and he has been one of the elite performers in the South Atlantic League this season. He ranks third in OPS, fourth in isolated power (.257), third in weighted runs above average (27.0), and sixth in weighted runs created plus (154). All the players who are ahead of Hanson in these categories are older players.
Hanson is on track to develop into a potential five-category fantasy contributor in the middle infield. The real question right now is how long he will stick at shortstop as he has committed 32 errors this season.
Tyler Thornburg is back in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers, but he will be serving a bullpen role for the time being. Because of his diminutive 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame, some scouts have felt Thornburg is more suited for relief duty.
During an emergency start on June 19, Thornburg got rocked by the Toronto Blue Jays by yielding five runs and four home runs in 5 1/3 innings of work.
In 80 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Thornburg has gone 9-1, with a 3.04 ERA and a 77:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Using a deceptive delivery, the former Charleston Southern star fools hitters with a low-90s fastball and complements it well with a swing-and-miss changeup.
If the starter path winds up suiting him, he profiles as a No. 3 starter. If one plays in a NL-only league, this is the time to acquire him on the cheap while he serves in a low-leverage bullpen role.