Prospect Scouting Report: Bryan Hansen

First base is looking like a bit of a log jam. There's Jim Thome at the majors, Ryan Howard waiting in the wings and others, like Bryan Hansen looking for their place in line. For Hansen, things started to come together in 2004 and if he keeps progressing, he may find a spot in that crowded first base position.

For Bryan Hansen, baseball has been his life. Like many prospects and super stars alike, Hansen dreamed of major league glory from a very early age and those dreams haven't stopped.

The Phillies were able to lure Hansen away from a commitment to West Virginia and signed him after they grabbed him in the sixth round of the 2001 Draft. While Hansen was very serious about attending West Virginia, the fact that the Phillies selected him so high in the draft and then came through with the money to sign him, made it a very easy decision for Hansen.

After the draft, the pundits had Hansen and Tony Cancio, who was a seventh round pick in 2000, battling for the future of first base in the Phillies organization. Well, things have changed. Cancio is a goner and Howard has gone on to super prospect status and has easily claimed a hold on first base. Of course, that hold has to wait until Jim Thome leaves town or could be changed to a hold on an outfield position if Howard can learn the ropes. As for Hansen, he hasn't been spectacular, but 2004 was somewhat of a turn around and the Phillies are hopeful that Hansen will still come through with the offensive production that they saw him prior to the 2001 Draft.

2001 GCL 1 11 .243 30 111 9 27 2 0 1 0 10 21 .306
2002 GCL 1 28 .306 54 180 24 55 16 4 3 3 14 26 .360
2003 Lakewood 2 12 .200 55 175 11 35 6 0 5 3 20 44 .291
2003 Batavia 3 33 .214 67 248 29 53 18 4 4 2 30 45 .304
2004 Lakewood 9 59 .273 127 462 77 126 28 5 1 3 74 65 .374
2004 Clearwater 0 1 .300 3 10 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 2 .364
Career 16 144 .252 336 1186 148 299 71 13 14 11 149 203 .338

Offense and Power: Hansen showed the most promise of his young career in 2004. He set career highs in homeruns, RBI, doubles, triples and walks. That last category was a big part of Hansen's resurgence. He became a much more disciplined hitter at the plate and showed a good command of the strike zone, which allowed him to get better pitches to hit. His nine homeruns are still under where the Phillies thought that he would be, but he is getting better and that's what matters.

Baserunning and Speed: Speed isn't one of the things that Hansen excels at. On the other hand, it's not that he is embarrassingly slow or that he can't take an extra base here and there. He's got good baseball instincts and that extends to his baserunning ability.

Defense: Hansen has good abilities at first base. He made 10 errors in 117 games in 2004 and was able to save many other errors for other players, by digging balls out of the dirt. His range is average, but he has continued to work on his defense and can certainly handle first base.

Projection: Critics will say that his 2004 turn around was the result of playing at Lakewood for the second season in a row. Keep in mind that Hansen just turned 21 last May and he still has some learning to do. He was drafted out of high school and there is still time for him to develop. He will start the season at Clearwater and the next couple of seasons will be interesting to watch. The key number will be the walks, because he is a much better hitter when he's selective at the plate.

ETA: Again, Hansen is young and will need some time. He may need three seasons or maybe a little more to make it through Clearwater and Reading. He may also need more time at AAA than some players require. Hansen could be ready for a major league debut either in late 2009 or early 2010. Some players seem to explode once they get the knack of professional baseball. 2005 might tell if Hansen is one of those players and can make the majors quicker than our estimates.

Comparison: The Phillies had originally thought that Hansen would put up John Kruk type numbers, only with a slightly lower average. Those estimates might have been a little much, since Kruk finished his career as a .299 hitter and averaged 16 homeruns a season. While it's not completely out of reach for Hansen, he hasn't shown those type of skills yet.

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