POSITION: Right-handed starting pitcher
BORN ON: August 28, 1986
AGE: Will be 21 this season and turn 22 in late August
BORN IN: Tulsa, Oklahoma
LIVES IN: Redlands, California
SCHOOL: Riverside Community College
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft, signed as a draft and follow on May 24, 2006
SIGNED BY: Tom Battista
STATISTICSClick here for Hanson's 2007 stats
Tommy Hanson just cruised through Rome and the South Atlantic League, with an outstanding first half of the season. His first start of the season was his worst (five earned runs in four innings), but after that he had a 2.09 in his final 14 games with Rome.
Hanson had more than three walks only twice in Rome, while he racked up the strikeouts (90 in 73 innings). Hanson had only three games where he allowed more hits than innings pitched. He was simply in control the entire time in the Sally League.
At the beginning of July the Braves moved him up to the Carolina League and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, where he found things a little tougher. Hanson's ERA in 11 games was 4.20, but he still struck out 64 in 60 innings pitched.
Hanson really had two bad games in Myrtle Beach, which drove his ERA up considerably. Hanson allowed 11 runs in 9.1 innings in two games in August, but if you take those two games away his ERA for the rest of the nine games in Myrtle was only 3.05.
However, Hanson did have trouble with allowing home runs (10) and walks (32) in his 60 innings pitched in Myrtle Beach. He admitted he lost a bit of his aggressiveness and was too fine at times instead of attacking the hitters.
Since it was his first full season, Hanson was a bit tired toward the end of the year. Plus, since he did get hit at least a little bit in Myrtle Beach (compared to when he was in Rome when he didn't get hit much at all) Hanson was able to learn more about himself and become a pitcher instead of a thrower, especially when he had to learn why he did give up those home runs and walks in the Carolina League.
The Braves sent Hanson to the Instructional League to work on his curveball a bit. They felt he lost the effectiveness of his curve late in the season. So he put in more time working on his breaking ball, which is not a surprise since his fastball is very strong. He was consistently between 92 and 95 mph and would occasionally hit 96 mph.
Hanson started throwing a two-seam fastball in Myrtle Beach, which will give him more movement. But his power fastball is his four-seamer. He loves to challenge hitters with his fastball, and he's also got a good slurve (76-78 mph) and changeup (low 80s).
The Braves love Hanson's aggressiveness. He's a power pitcher that is going to attack, and as he learned in Myrtle Beach when he backs off he can get in trouble. Hanson has good arm action and when he gets that fastball down in the zone he's tough to hit.
With any tall pitcher, Hanson has to learn his body and understand what his body can do on the mound. He's still learning his mechanics, and he needs to keep his tempo up and not slow down his mechanics. His breaking ball gets off when he slows down.
Hanson's makeup is outstanding. He learned a tremendous amount last year in his first full season. The Braves believe he can be a potential number three starter in the big leagues, and the comparisons range from Roy Halladay to Adam Wainwright to Jason Schmidt to Jason Johnson.
2008 OUTLOOKThe Braves are going to place Hanson back in Myrtle Beach to start the season. He'll work more on his curve and changeup, and Hanson will tinker more with a cutter, which Bruce Dal Canton introduced to him late last season. The Braves are confident Hanson will succeed in the Carolina League and could move up to Double-A by June or July. If Hanson has anything close to his 2007 season this year he's going to be knocking on the door of the big leagues. It's all about refining those breaking pitches, since his fastball is a solid pitch. When we see more consistency from his slurve and changeup, Tommy Hanson is going to be very close to making an impact in the big leagues, perhaps as early as sometime in 2009.
ADDITIONAL STORY LINKSClick here for Tommy Hanson on The Braves Show Talk Show in November of 2007
Click here for a podcast interview with Tommy Hanson in June of 2007
Click here Hanson's 2007 Player Profile
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at email@example.com.