Minor league notebook: Disciplined Hanson back on field

Bob Cohn
| Saturday, July 5, 2014, 9:40 p.m.

Altoona shortstop Alen Hanson took a brief, involuntarily vacation recently.

Hanson, one of the Pirates' top prospects, missed six games in late June for what Pirates farm director Larry Broadway described in a published report as “internal developmental reasons.”

Altoona manager Carlos Garcia was a bit more expansive.

“It's like any other company,” Garcia said in a phone interview. “You have rules and regulations. What happens when you break a rule? Consequences, right?”

He added: “It's like a good father who has kids and they love him and when they don't behave as they're supposed to, he disciplines them.”

Garcia held off on specifics but elaborated — probably to the point he was allowed to.

“The game of baseball is a great game,” he said. “You have to play the game how it's supposed to be played. You have to understand this game has been a way of life for us, and if you love it the way we think he does, you have to be able to play with a lot of energy and responsibilities.

“For some reason, we're immature sometimes and forget the process and sometimes get in trouble. But he is a young kid with a bright future.”

A native of the Dominican Republic, Hanson is 21. He signed at 16 in 2009 and began his professional career the following year. In 127 games at High-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona in 2013, he hit .274 with 13 home runs, 58 RBIs and 30 steals. He was caught stealing 16 times and struck out 96 times.

Before Saturday's game, Hanson was at .26 67/41 with 16 steals, six caught stealing and 61 strikeouts for the Curve. He was 7 for 36 since returning from his six-game break.

The 76th-rated prospect by Baseball America before the season, Hanson played mostly at second base his first year after turning pro. He has struggled at shortstop. He had 24 errors as of Friday and is not considered to have an especially strong arm.

“Shortstop is a demanding position,” Garcia said. “He has to understand that he's the captain of the ship. You've got to be anticipating every play. That's one of things he's improving on a lot. You're gonna see errors and think he can't play 155 games in the big leagues, but if he keeps progressing I think he can stay there.”

In a pinch

Justin Howard's pinch-hit, two-run homer Friday not only provided the difference in the Curve's 4-2 win over Harrisburg but it also was the first pinch-homer for Altoona in nearly four years. It broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning in front of 8,845, the sixth-largest regular-season crowd at People's Natural Gas Field.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com.

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