Having been in the media a little bit recently, rumored to possibly be part of a trade for Jake Peavy, I wanted to take a look at the Atlanta Braves Tommy Hanson. The 22-year old was originally drafted by the Braves back in 2005, but not until the 22nd round.
What has been impressive about him thus far in his career (the highest level he’s appeared in is Double A in ’08) is his strikeout rate, which was 10.63 during 2008 and is sitting at 10.42 over his 3-year career (322.2 innings). He does it featuring a fastball in the low 90′s, along with a curveball and change-up. His control is not tremendous, but it is not going to kill him either. At Double A this season, he walked 41 batters in 98.0 innings, good for a BB/9 of 3.77.
In 2007, there appeared like there could be problems with the long ball for Hanson, who gave up a total of 16 HR in 133 innings at 2 levels of Single A. He seemed to correct that last season, giving up just 9 over 138 innings (though they all came in his 98 innings at Double A).
Let’s take a look at his total numbers from ’08 (pitching at both Single & Double A):
11-5, 138.0 IP, 2.49 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 163 K, 85 H, 52 BB
Only allowing 85 hits is extremely impressive, no matter what level you’re pitching at. The breakdown was 15 hits allowed in 40 innings at Single A and then 70 hits allowed over 98 innings at Double A. Yeah, he allowed more hits at Double A, but opposing batters hit just .197 against him at that level. You have to be impressed by that.
He is pitching in the Arizona Fall League this winter, and the dominance has continued. He is currently 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA over 13.2 innings, having allowed just 4 hits and 3 walks. He’s also struck out 19 batters, just continuing to prove that he has the potential as a big-time strikeout prospect.
He furthered his dominance in the Rising Stars Showcase on October 24. Throwing 43 pitches over 3 no-hit innings, Hanson struck out 7 and walked 2. That’s right, he got 9 outs, and 7 of them were via the strikeout.
If he does indeed get moved as part of a trade for Peavy, that worry of the long ball would be significantly decreased, pitching half of his games at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park. I can’t make that assumption right now, however, as he’s property of the Braves, meaning the home runs could be an issue and is something that owners should certainly monitor.
Prior to the 2008 season, Baseball America had him slotted in as the Braves #9 prospect overall, but after last season I would anticipate him moving up that list this season. He has proven that he has the ability to pick up plenty of strikeouts at higher levels, though I’m very curious to see how he will perform at Triple A at the start of this season.
There’s no doubt in my mind that no matter what team he’s playing for, his season is going to begin in the minor leagues. He just needs some more time at the upper levels before I’d deem him ready to make an impact at the major league level. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t look for him to get recalled somewhere around the All-Star Break, however.
He certainly has the ability, and should be looked at as a potential mid-season boost to your strikeout totals. Yearly league owners shouldn’t touch him until his recall, but those in long-term keeper leagues should certainly look to stash him away.