Alen Hanson brings a lot of skills to the baseball diamond, and he demonstrated just about every one of them in Double-A Altoona's 3-0 win over Richmond on Saturday night.
The Pirates' No. 5 prospect went 3-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored. He also swiped a pair of bases and turned four double plays with Curve second baseman Gift Ngoepe.
"He highlighted the talents that obviously we like and a lot of people like," Altoona hitting coach Ryan Long said. "The key is being able to tap into those on a nightly basis and being able to show up mentally every day."
MLB.com's No. 58 overall prospect launched his fourth homer of the season off a 1-1 offering from Richmond starter Ty Blach, the Giants' No. 6 prospect, with one out in the sixth inning.
Three of the switch-hitter's four home runs have come against left-handed pitchers and three have come within the past six games. The one he hit Saturday didn't have much trouble clearing the fence.
"It was big, yeah. It was good. It wasn't a cheapie by any means," Long said. "He's special in that ... for a medium-sized-build guy and pretty light guy, he does have some strong hands, strong wrists. When he puts everything together, he can impact the ball pretty good."
Hanson began his night with a single to center in the bottom of the first before hitting another up the middle in the third. At that point, he stole second and third, upping his season total to 10.
After crossing the plate on Stetson Allie's eighth homer in the first, the 21-year-old was stranded at third base two innings later. Hanson popped out leading off the eighth in his final at-bat.
With his fourth three-hit game of the year, Hanson helped Altoona snap a three-game losing streak.
"He was just really balanced, man. Really balanced," Long said. "Had a nice swagger to him, good confidence going. Knew what pitches he wanted to hit and was sitting on those pitches, and when he got them, he hit them."
The native of the Dominican Republic is batting .273/.309/.448 with five doubles, five triples and 19 RBIs through 37 games. He's 10-for-13 in stolen base attempts, with 31 strikeouts and seven walks in his first full season at Altoona and fifth in pro ball since signing with the Pirates as a non-drafted free agent in July 2009.
To advance to Triple-A Indianapolis or Pittsburgh, Hanson will need to keep playing with focus and consistency, which Long said he's been doing more and more lately.
"Overall focus, man," Long said. "That's the separator for not only him but a lot of guys at this level. One of things you talk about with going to the next level is the manager and coaches need to know what they're going to get, what to expect.
"Talking about a potential big league player, that's what we're looking for, guys who are able to show up every night, every pitch, be disciplined for every pitch in every at-bat and be disciplined in the field, so they make the routine plays."
Hanson made all the routine plays on Saturday, and then some. The shortstop with the bright future soon could be moving on to bigger and better things, as long as he keeps doing the little things daily.
"It was great, man," Long said. "It was good to see from him. Obviously, we know it's in him. He has the potential to do that nightly. And that's what we're looking for out of him.
"When you have the talent that he got blessed with, it stands out."
Altoona starter A.J. Morris improved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.46 with seven shutout innings, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out four. Jhonathan Ramos and Emmanuel De Leon got the hold and save, respectively.