2005 Draft Preview: RHP, Craig Hansen

Draft day 2005 is close enough to touch as the wait will soon be coming to an end. But until it does, PinstripesPlus.com will continue to profile some of the best amateur prospects in the country. Now, let's take a look at the top closer in the draft, righthander, Craig Hansen.

Vital Statistics
Name: Craig Hansen
DOB: November 15, 1983
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 193
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Place of Residence: Glen Cove, NY

Last year it was Huston Street and this year it will be Craig Hansen. It is interesting how drafts have evolved over the years being that now there is at least one premium closer in the first round of the draft each year. But, with Craig Hansen, he is more than premium, he is just flat out amazing. Out of St. John's University, the junior righthander has solidified himself as the most dominating closer in the country for the Red Storm. Using his blazing fastball and nearly untouchable slider, he arguably has the best one-two punch of any pitcher in the country. With that in mind, he is a top ten talent, but the only way he has a chance to fall out of that range would be as a result of his agent, Scott Boras.

Scouts from most of the Major League organizations have come to see the closer phenom pitch for the Red Storm. And, needless to say, they haven't been disappointed. Game after game they have aimed their radar guns at him as he continued to close out game after game in 2005. But, when he steps on the mound, his focus is on one thing only. "Once I step on the mound, I don't even see the scouts. I just zone in on the catcher," Hansen told the New York Daily News. "He's got that crazy closer mentality," says St. John's pitching coach, Scott Brown. "He wants to be in there with the game on the line." But, perhaps where the tremendous focus stemmed from was his high school career at Glen Cove High School. He finished his senior year with a perfect 0.00 ERA and was given the Diamond Award as Nassau County's top pitcher. However, despite the gaudy numbers, Hansen went undrafted and was, believe it or not, lightly recruited by major colleges. "I was bummed out, and it motivated me a lot," Hansen explained. Whether he was genuinely snubbed or not, Hansen had only one solution. And, that was to improve at any cost. "It made me want to work as hard as I could to ensure that I would be somewhere by my junior year."

Well, he is in his junior year now at St. John's and he certainly is somewhere. Becoming the full time Red Storm closer, Hansen has put up ridiculous statistics. While racking up 14 saves for the Red Storm, he was compiled a miniscule 1.01 ERA in 53.2 innings pitched. Not to mention, he struck out 72 batters while walking only 14. As a result of his amazing performance here in 2005, he has even drawn compliments from his opponents. "Over the last couple of seasons, we've faced three guys who were top 15 picks in the draft, and there's absolutely no doubt in my mind he's the best of all of them," Princeton Head Coach, Scott Bradley raves. The main reason for the compliments is what? Well, who better to explain it than his catcher, Joe Burke. "When Craig comes out of the bullpen, the game's pretty much over."

There is a good reason that Craig Hansen is considered to be a sure thing for the first half of the first round this year. He may be a reliever, but most scouts and coaches are convinced that he is not ordinary by any means. "His stuff is as good as 75 percent of the closers in the majors right now," coach Ed Blankmeyer told TheState.com. "Guys like this, they don't come around too often." But, disregarding the potential he has for the moment, many teams also are considering the Scott Boras factor when it comes to the draft. However, for the time being, with his team trying to keep their College World Series dreams alive, Hansen has tried to put it out of his mind. "I don't worry too much about what's going to happen, who's going to take me or where I'm going to be," the lanky righthander explains. "It's all going to happen for a reason, so I don't think there's any reason to worry about it." On the other hand, however, he has been unable to avoid the exciting thought of becoming a big league ballplayer. "It's pretty exciting to think about my dream getting that much closer to becoming true."











St. John's








Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup

Fastball. Not only does Craig Hansen have a fastball that sits comfortably in the 94-96 MPH area, touching the upper 90's at times, but also he is a master at spotting it in and out of the strike zone. He has good natural movement and batters are consistently late, as they are unable to get a good read on his heat. Also, the tall righty is not afraid to bust hitters inside. That makes his slider down and away that much more devastating.

Other Pitches. Other than his blazing fastball, Craig Hansen also has a dynamite slider. That is usually the mark of a lights out closer, having two nearly untouchable pitches. And, that is exactly what Hansen has. His slider is hard and late breaking. With two strikes on a batter, it is just about untouchable. Not to mention, it often registers on the gun in the 86-90 MPH range. That is truly a power breaking ball. Along with his slider, he has a solid changeup that he is trying to slowly work into his repertoire. It is a decent pitch and he throws it in the 81-84 MPH range. Hansen has a reliever's repertoire, but he is one pitch away from being a starting pitching prospect as well.

Pitching. Craig Hansen is all about power. Just about everything he throws is power. His slider is close to 90 MPH and his fastball is in the mid to upper - 90's. But, the thing that makes him so incredibly effective is his pinpoint control. When a pitcher can locate two dominating pitches, he is going to cause major problems for even the best hitters. At 6' 5", with a long and lean body, Hansen also brings the deception factor along with his dynamite stuff. Scouts have commented that he looks like it is all arms and legs coming at the hitter. Not to mention, his towering physique makes for an intimidating opponent for the batter. As a professional closer, he is still going to rack up the strikeout totals and be, generally, tough to even make contact with. Craig has a fearless mentality on the mound and he believes that there is no one who can beat him. As he even says himself, he isn't afraid to fail. Most importantly, his demeanor never changes. He is truly a steadying presence when he takes the hill.

Projection. This young man is a Major League closer, plain and simple. With simply tremendous raw stuff and pitchability to go along with it, he is as close to Major League ready as anyone in the 2005 draft class. Whoever has the privilege of drafting him may only need to send him to the minors for months instead of years. Hansen has the potential to be a dominating closer for many years in the Major Leagues. He is just that talented.

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