Scouting Rangers Prospect #45: Hanser Alberto

Hanser Alberto put himself on the prospect map by topping the Dominican Summer League with a .358 batting average last season. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 18-year-old infielder with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Hanser Alberto
Position: Shortstop
DOB: October 17, 1992
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 175
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2009 International Free Agent

Hanser Alberto wasn't a well-known prospect as he entered the 2010 season. After signing with the Rangers in late '09 to little fanfare, he didn't attend Spring Training in the U.S.

But it certainly didn't take long for the shortstop to make a name for himself. Playing in his native country with the Dominican Summer League Rangers, Alberto led the 34-team circuit with a .358 batting average.

His manager, Kenny Holmberg, says an advanced skill-set helped lead to the immediate success.

"He's a special baseball player," Holmberg said during the 2010 campaign. "He knows how to use his eyes, he knows how to use his brain, his feet, and his hands. He's in total control of his body. He has passion for the game––he's a student of the game. He enjoys competition and the challenge of every single day."

Alberto, who turned 18-years-old in October, has a relatively developed 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame given his age. His present strength and lift in his swing gives him a little gap power, which produced the 10th-best slugging percentage in the DSL at .464. Though he didn't hit any home runs in 50 contests, Alberto belted 15 doubles and two triples.

Despite an aggressive approach, Alberto's excellent hand-eye coordination and mature pitch recognition skills allowed him to make consistent contact. He walked in only 3.1% of his plate appearances but countered it with an impressively low 4.6% strikeout rate.

"He knows how to get the barrel on the ball," the manager said. "He knows how to battle. He has a nice setup and a great approach to the ball. His hand-eye coordination is outstanding. You can tell just by watching him play defense––by the reads that he gets on ground balls.

"He recognizes really well for a young kid that hasn't played against very good competition growing up. Now that he's in the midst of competition, he just knows how to battle. It has been really cool to watch. Breaking balls 0-2, breaking balls 2-0––he's on them. A fastball 0-0––he's on it. He just has a great plan."

Also See: Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Kenny Holmberg (August 11, 2010)
Seven teams, seven sleepers (December 26, 2010)

Batting and Power: A right-handed hitter, Alberto flashed his intriguing bat by hitting .358 in the Dominican Summer League last season. He also held his own at the plate during Fall Instructional League. As previously mentioned, he has excellent hand-eye coordination and struck out in just nine of 196 plate appearances despite an aggressive approach.

Alberto will need to become a more selective hitter as he climbs the ladder, and his advanced pitch recognition skills could allow him to do that. While he loves to swing, he doesn't get overly pull-happy and shows the ability to use all fields. The young prospect also earned praise from coaches for his game awareness and situational hitting skills. With some upper-body strength and slight lift in his swing, Alberto swatted 17 extra-base hits in the DSL last summer and could develop fringe-average power.

Base Running and Speed: Through his current above-average speed and advanced instincts on the base paths, Alberto swiped 16 bases in 19 attempts for the DSL Rangers last summer. While the upper half of Alberto's body is fairly developed, he still has room to fill out in his lower half and figures to lose some speed as he matures. He'll be perhaps an average or solid-average runner down the line, and the strong instincts should help the speed play up a bit.

Defense: Alberto showed some versatility last season, playing 40 games at shortstop, eight at second base, and one at third base. He committed 11 total errors in those 49 contests (.944). Though he's primarily a shortstop right now, a move to second base is likely in his future. Alberto has solid range, but it doesn't project to be on the same level as fellow shortstop prospects Luis Sardinas and Jurickson Profar. He has average arm strength with good accuracy. Like with his running, Alberto's defensive tools should play up due to his instincts and coordination.

Projection: While clearly advanced for his age and experience level, the Dominican Republic native remains a long way from the major leagues. He projects to gain some strength in his lower half, which should help him as a hitter but will also cause him to lose some athleticism and range in the field. It's difficult to pinpoint Alberto's future this early in his career, but his impressive bat and overall feel for the game could eventually carry him to the big leagues.

2011 Outlook: Alberto will almost certainly begin the 2011 season at Extended Spring Training. Once the short-season squads begin play in mid-June, he could either remain in Surprise for rookie ball or join short-season Spokane. His mature skills and body could let him tackle the Spokane challenge, though he will most likely be an everyday middle infielder with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers. Even if Alberto plays in the AZL this season, he could get a look with Spokane by the end of the summer.

ETA: 2015.

2010 DSL Rangers (DSL) .358 179 15 0 24 25 16/19 6 9 .377 .464

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