Ray Hanson, Right-Handed Pitcher
HT : 6'8
WT : 235 lb
DOB : February 27, 1990, Long Beach, California
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida)
Acquired : Free Agent, June 2014 (Originally drafted in the 47th round of the 2010 June Draft, San Francisco Giants)
Stock : Neutral
Cool Notes : California product / Could compete in a beard contest with Matt Shoemaker / Undrafted Free Agent / Nearly the same exact size as LeBron James
A simple phone call in June changed Ray Hanson's life for good. For the first time in his career, he was a professional baseball player, pitching for a professional baseball team. Hanson, a product of Independent Ball has shown large strides forward in his short professional career, and could become the next stud to come from Indy Ball to the big club in a short time.
Hanson has a nice advantage that most guys don't have, his size. Hanson throws from a high slot in his already tall frame (6-foot-8), making balls harder to read as they're heading downwards towards the plate.
If pitching from a high point meant everything, you'd see a lot of seven-foot pitchers in baseball. There has to be some excess to it, and Hanson has just that with a nice arsenal.
Hanson's fastball has lively movement in the high 80's and low 90's. It has a natural sink to it, which is a positive coming from such a high angle.
Hanson has a trio of off-speed pitches, consisting of a changeup, curveball, and slider. Of the three, Hanson's changeup has been seen as the most effective. Hanson will throw this pitch on any given count, but has found that it works well as a set-up and put away pitch to keep batters off balance. This also goes well for his curve, as he's used it multiple times as a two-strike pitch to get hitters.
Hanson has clean mechanics, keeping a smooth and steady transition towards the mound. Hanson does have to make some room to clean up his command, which may come with a stronger follow through at the end of his movement.
Hanson was a standout in high school going 18-2 with a 0-73 ERA his senior year, helping him become a top 200 nationally ranked high school pitcher and 30th in the state of California. He continued this after high school, collecting the third-most wins in Cypress College history and was soon after elected to the Cypress College Hall of Fame. Hanson pitched at Arizona State for two years after high school.
Hanson began his UCF career going 4-2, with a 3.47 ERA in 11 games. He had one complete game his junior year, where he allowed six hits, struck out four, had no walks, and did not allow a runner to reach scoring position in the final eight frames. He finished his freshman year at UCF and 35 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched.
Hanson's last year of college finished with a 4-1 record, 3.84 ERA, and 33 strikeouts in 58.2 innings pitched. Hanson pitched in 15 games, starting 12.
Hanson was passed up in the 2012 draft, and went on to Independent Ball in 2013, pitching for the River City Rascals and Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings, posting a near league leading 3.61 ERA, helping lift him to a 9-4 record in 17 games (89.2 IP). Hanson finished 2013 with a 1.104 WHIP, helped by his 6.9 hits per nine. Hanson's K numbers raised drastically, sitting down 9.2 per nine.
Hanson continued his Independent Ball success in early 2014, until he got the call in June, letting him know he was becoming a Los Angeles Angels prospect.
Hanson began his professional career with a two-hit, two-walk, no-run, five-inning performance on June 26th. He continued that success with a season ending 4.00 ERA and .245 against average.
Batters leading off innings struggled against Hanson with a .182/.270/.303 slash. Hanson's strongest performance of 2014 came on August 5th against the Lake Elsinore Storm, where he picked up his first career complete game shutout, with a five-hit, two-walk performance.
Hanson performed well at the High-A level in the latter part of 2014, which tends to say that with a strong Spring Training, he could land in Arkansas and Double-A in 2015.
Hanson has only been in the system for a short time but it seems that he's on a near path as Drew Rucinski. Rucinski saw MLB time in his second year with the system, but also came with a larger arsenal package. We're not saying Hanson won't be in the MLB in 2015, but it is more likely that when he arrives, it will be in 2016.
Hanson's changeup has so much promise, that it recommends he will stay a starter through his minor league career. This is a big note, since the Angels have a low stock on starting pitching prospects at the upper levels. It would seem that Hanson will remain a starting pitcher his whole way through the system and into the Majors.
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Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for InsideTheHalos.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.