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BlueClaws' Hanson evolving as pitcher05/03/2013 12:21 AM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
Four years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find Nick Hanson on the diamond, let alone the mound. Thursday night, he looked like he belonged.
Hanson allowed two hits and three walks while striking out five over five innings for his first South Atlantic League win as Class A Lakewood blanked Charleston, 6-0.
It was the first start of the season for the Phillies' 16th-round pick in the 2012 Draft. Hanson's six previous appearances this year came out of the bullpen.
Hanson battled through a rough first inning, issuing a pair of base on balls but emerged unscathed.
"Honestly, I started off a little shaky. [I had] nerves, my first start in front of the home crowd," the California native said. "I was lucky enough to get some early runs from my offense and it took away my nerves."
If Hanson develops into a top prospect, the Phillies may have to send a thank-you card to a member of Red Sox organization.
"I actually didn't even play baseball my junior year [of high school] and my best friend, Henry Owens, was like, 'We need a pitcher on the team,' so I said all right, I'll go for it," Hanson said. "I had a good year and decided to stick with it. I went to junior college, I got hurt my freshman year, came back my sophomore year and got drafted."
The 21-year-old right-hander's freshman season injury was nothing mudane. Hanson required ulnar nerve transposition surgery, in which the ulnar nerve is moved to a more suitable position in the elbow.
"I didn't even know anything about it," Hanson said. "I pitched the first game of the year and it felt weird. They said if you want to keep playing baseball you have to get it moved over."
Hanson and Owens, Boston's No. 5 prospect, remain good friends and live together in the offseason. Having access to one of the top pitching prospects in the game has proven beneficial to a neophyte hurler such as Hanson.
"[I'm learning] everything I can, I talk to him all the time," Hanson said. "He's got me back into baseball, he's far ahead of me in terms of pitching."
Hanson, who throws a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a curveball, a slider and a changeup, recognizes the difficulties inherent in learning how to pitch as a pro.
"It's been a lot of fun, just getting used to my stuff and all my pitches and stuff," he said. "It's been tough at times, just getting better at being a pitcher rather than just throwing."
Hanson started his pro career with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters last year, going 2-3 with a 7.00 ERA in 19 appearances, including three starts.
"I started a little bit last year in short season and struggled," he said. "I wanted to get another shot at it and prove I can do it."
Jordan Guth allowed one hit over two innings of relief. Zach Cooper tossed a hitless frame and Geoff Broussard struck out three while allowing a pair of hits in the ninth.
Roman Quinn, the Phillies' No. 5 prospect, reached base twice and scored a pair of runs for the BlueClaws.