Hansen entered this spring at the University of Oklahoma on a short list of players being eyed-up for top ten selection in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft. His control and effectiveness abandoned him, however, and Hansen was relegated to relief work for a chunk of the regular season, with his draft stock slipping accordingly. The White Sox rolled the dice on the Sooner’s electric right arm and grabbed him in the second round, easing him into pro life with 10 short starts between the Rookie Arizona League and the Rookie Pioneer League before promoting him to Class A Kannapolis last week.
In his first two starts in full-season ball, Hansen has challenged hitters with a mid-90s fastball that comes with impressive run that is particularly effective as a backdoor offering to same-side bats when he hits his spots. He pairs with the heater a hard slider that flashes plus with solid tilt and hard bite and a softer breaker in the upper-70s with 11-to-5 action and some depth. He rounds out the arsenal with a quality changeup that can show sharp fade when he turns it over and hits his release.
While a slightly toned-down set of mechanics have helped to solve some of the significant control issues Hansen struggled with earlier in 2016, there is still some occasional falloff and inconsistency in his finish and command continues to be a question mark for the imposing righty. The fastball can work too loosely in the zone, particularly against left-side bats with the ball running to the barrel. Conversely, Hansen has been able to get away with less surgical implementation of the fastball to righties with the pitch effectively boring to the hands and drawing soft groundball contact.
The raw numbers thus far look great: 48.2 IP, 18 H, 8 ER, 18 BB, 76 SO, .114 AVG, 0.74 WHIP. It would be dangerous to read too much into the dominant stat line Hansen has produced over a mere 48-plus innings of work – 36 of which came against Rookie level competition – and the same it would be foolish to ignore the improved consistency in execution and frequency with which Hansen has been able to find the zone with each of his four offerings. If he can maintain the developmental momentum he’s built to this point and continue to work to replicate his release pitch-to-pitch and start-to-start, there’s potential for a dominant starter profile to emerge. At minimum even a rudimentary level of consistency over short spurts, when combined with the raw stuff, would make Hansen a quality high-leverage arm out of the pen.