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Chicago White Sox: What’s Up With Alec Hansen?

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BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 24: Chicago White Sox cap and glove in the dug out before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 24, 2014 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 24: Chicago White Sox cap and glove in the dug out before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 24, 2014 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago White Sox took a chance when they selected Alec Hansen and it has been a roller coaster ever since they made that decision.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Alec Hansen has been on an absolute roller coaster ride since he was drafted in 2016. After there were murmurings of Hansen possibly going first overall that year, his projection began to slip immensely after his walk numbers began to skyrocket during his final season at Oklahoma, where he walked 39 batters in 51.2 innings his junior year at Oklahoma, pushing his BB/9 to a dismal 6.79. The White Sox, however, viewed Hansen as a diamond in the rough, and they used the 49th overall pick to select Hansen in the second round.

Hansen made the White Sox grateful for taking a chance on him when he dominated the minors throughout his first couple of seasons. Before 2018, the right hander’s final season ERA rose above 3.00 just once. He recorded a total ERA of 1.32 after making three starts across three different levels in 2016,  and he stayed efficient in 2017 by recording a 2.80 ERA over 26 starts. Also, his K/9 in 2016 and 2017 was 13.34 and 12.16, respectively. His tremendous performance in his first two years garnered him well deserved promotions in some prospect rankings, and he peaked as high as number six in the White Sox organization in 2017.

Hansen seemed destined to be one of the best pitchers in the organization. Everything was going his way, and it was looking like the Sox had struck gold.

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Then 2018 hit…

Hansen began the 2018 year on the shelf with forearm soreness, and he wasn’t able to pick up where he left off after coming back. His total ERA on the year was 6.31, with a 5.74 mark in A+ and a 6.56 in AA. It was undeniably Hansen’s control that caused the plummet in his performance, as his 2018 BB/9 of 10.34 was almost triple his 2017 mark of 3.25. Overall, he issued the free pass 59 times while only striking out 55.

There was still some hope for Hansen’s potential heading into the 2019 season. Despite the horrendous 2018 season, Hansen was still rated as the 15th overall prospect in the White Sox organization. That mark is, unfortunately, his peak at this point in the 2019 season as his same misfortunes from 2018 have stayed to haunt him. As of today, Hansen has almost been completely shifted out of the top 30 after being moved to the 28 spot.

He began 2019 in Winston Salem at the A+ level, and he actually fared very well. He made nine appearances out of the bullpen and registered 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings. In the short tenure, Hansen also struck out 21 batters versus seven walks. The success pushed the Sox to give Hansen the call up to AA Birmingham on May 4, but that is where the struggles began once again. He has made 25 appearances with 24 of them coming out of the bullpen, and his ERA currently sits at 5.73. Although his K/BB numbers have improved (36/29), he has allowed 37 hits in 33 innings.

In Hansen’s defense, he has not been all that bad since getting the call to Birmingham. He had a string of some really bad games that ultimately shot his ERA up. In back to back appearances between June 15th and June 21st, Hansen combined to give eight earned runs in 1/3 of an inning. Aside from that, Hansen has been rather good with multiple no-hit appearances under his belt.

Although the 2019 season is coming around to its end, Hansen still has some time to figure it out. Don’t be surprised to see him get the big league call once rosters expand in September. Hansen has shown before that he can adjust to persevere and succeed through his control problems, so now the Sox and their fans alike are hoping he can do it again.

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