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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Scouting Report, Tommy Hanson (3rd time)

Hanson was a draft and follow 22nd round draft pick in 2005, and he has pitched extremely well through the minors, but his turning point was when he dominated the Arizona Fall League after the 2008 season. He threw 127 innings or the Braves last year, and if you ask a number of Braves fans, he is the reason they missed the playoffs last year. No, he didn't perform poorly, instead, the Braves wanted to prevent his service time/arbitration clock from starting, so he made 11 starts in AAA instead. If the Braves had Hanson start those 11 games in the big leagues, many fans (and even the Braves players) believe they make the playoffs last year. He only faced the Mets once last year, and threw seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits. His ERA last year was 2.89 (WHIP 1.18). He faced the Mets on April 25th, and let up the lone run (unearned) of the rain-shortened game versus Big Pelf, scattering five hits in five innings, and striking out eight. He again faced the Mets on July 9th and got a no-decision, throwing 5 2/3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6.

Hanson has an unorthodox delivery, as he throws across his body, something that makes some physical therapists/scouts cringe. He has a heavy, moving fastball that ranges from 90-94 mph (averaging 93mph). He's not afraid to pitch inside. He throws a tight curveball (12%) and a sweeping slider (throws it 25% of the time), while improving his change-up (only throws it 3 or 4 times a game) could make him a top 5 pitcher in the league. His two best pitches are his fastball and slider. He throws first pitch strikes 62% of the time, and has an above average swinging strike % (9.1). That carries over and is evident in Hanson's ridiculous strikeout rate (over 10 k/9 in the minors, over 8 k/9 last year), while walking under 3 per 9.

On July 9th, he was 8-5 in 17 starts (96 2/3 innings), with a 4.19 ERA and 1.37. That is due to an inflated BAPIP, .347, and that is expected to regress (his FIP 3.37). His strike out rate has risen to above 9 K/9, and he has held steady is walk rate.  He had two out of his last three starts be unsuccessful, lasting less than four innings (vs White Sox and Tigers), but threw 6 2/3 shut out innings versus the Marlins last start, allowing five hits and walking two, while striking out eight. As an example of how unlucky he was during those two starts vs the White Sox and Tigers, he let up 21 hits, only two of which were extra base hits. 12 out of his 17 starts he's allowed two runs or less. Conversely, he's only thrown 7+ innings four times this year.

Now, his record is 8-10 in 27 starts (158 innings), with a 3.76 ERA (3.41 FIP) and 1.27 WHIP. You would think he's pitched poorly since he's lost his last 5 decisions, but he had run off 6 quality starts in a row without getting a W. His ERA since July 9th is 3.07. For those interested to see if his BAPIP has regressed from July 9th, as I said above, it now sits at .320. His last start was not pretty, as the Marlins hit him hard and he only lasted 5 innings, allowing 7 runs (6 earned) on 8 hits including 4 home runs. He had let up only 1 other home run since June 22nd (11 starts).

Hanson is a future ace in the making, and as with most young pitchers, he shows flashes of brilliance, but still needs to put it together consistently.

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