The following scouting reports were written up by MLB Prospect Watch founder Jeff Moore based on the South Atlantic League game between the West Virginia Power (PIT) and the Lexington Legends (HOU) on 8/9/12.
The Pirates breakout prospect of the year, is still very raw despite the success he's had this season. There's a lot to like there, but there's still a lot of work to be done.
At just 152 lbs., much of the work will be done by simply filling out his wiry frame. He's not huge at 5'11", but as he grows into what he has, he will become a nice sized player.
The jury is still very out on whether or not it will be at shortstop, however. He'll never be as quick as he is now, and while he currently has the quickness to play shortstop, he doesn't have a lot extra to work with, and as he fills out, he could easily lose enough to force a move off the position.
For the time being, his actions at shortstop are sloppy and lazy. He's physically gifted, but rather than fighting to work through routine groundballs, he tends to drop to a knee to keep it in front. He has enough arm to pull this off if he fields the ball cleanly, but when he has to rush his throws, his arm slot drops and the ball sails high. Both of these were evidenced on one play when he mishandled a routine ball by not moving through it, then rushed the throw to try to make up for it, even though he still would have had the runner with a good throw. I won't rule Hanson out as a shortstop, but even if he retains his current quickness, he needs a lot of work to refine his mechanics in the field, and that will only become further magnified as he slows down.
At the plate, Hanson's left-handed swing is further along than his right-handed swing, which happens many times in the minors given that hitters see so many more right-handed pitchers than lefties. His left-handed swing is smooth and has a good bat path, although he did take one swing that looked like a premeditated slap with a running start, similar to what you see in softball. His right-handed swing is a little long, and he tends to get himself off-balance. The splits for Hanson don't reflect too much of a difference, which is good, but from the standpoint of how the swing looks, there is definitely a gap.
Hanson is a strong player with a bright future and great tools, but despite his success in his first taste in a full-season league, he still needs a lot of refinement and should not be rushed by the Pirates. He will likely need a full-season at each level, but at just 19-years-old this enitre season, that would still put him in the majors by 22.
Polanco looked like a bigger, stronger, left-handed only, outfield playing version of Hanson, and given that they play together, are both from the Dominican, and both broke out this year, they will get compared a lot.
But they shouldn't.
At 6'4" 170 lbs., Blanco profiles as a much different player than Hanson will be. They both need to fill out over time to fulfill their potential, but the same can be said about a lot of young players. While Hanson has some issues with contact (although nothing more than most 19-year-olds at his level), Polanco has an impressivly low strikeout rate for someone with his power numbers. Additionally, it's not just because of his aggressive approach, as his walk rate is respectable as well.
He does have an aggressive approach at the plate, however, with swings beginning and being checked on most of the pitches he sees. He is swinging until he decides not to, rather than the other way around. The approach works for Polanco, however, because his swing has a good path to it thorugh the zone, and his hands are exceptionally quick.
Polanco looks like he's actually throwing his hands at the ball, and is quick through the zone. His swing is short, and he looks to be slightly pull conscious, especially until he gets two strikes on him. Once there, he does a nice job fighting off pitches and a better job using the whole field, as indicated by the two-strike home run he hit directly down the left-field line on a swing that looked like he was serving a pitch over the shortstop's head, only his strong wrists carried it 330 ft.
Remember how skinny Delino DeShields, Sr. was? His namesake doesn't have that issue. Built like a tank, DeShields is thick bodied, but it doesn't slow him down - he runs like a tank too.
At the plate, he has a solid set-up and power pull approach and is already in double-digits in home runs this season. His pull approach will probably keep him from being a .300 hitter at the major league level, but will also allow him to hit 15 home runs a season, and probably 20 if he ends up playing in Houston with the Crawford Boxes in left field. He also has a great eye and patient approach at the plate, looking for a pitch he can hit hard, and happy with a walk (and a stolen base) if he doesn't get it.
Ultimately, the Astros would probably rather have him hit .270 with 20 home runs than .300 with single digits, so they'll let him continue the way he's going.
The Astros 2012 second round pick out of the University of Florida is not a toolsy player, but a fundamentally sound prospect who will get the most out of his abilities.
At the plate, he is clearly more advanced in his approach than the pitchers he is facing, as evidenced by his 40 walks in 29 games. That's a rate that won't continue, but it does show what kind of hitter Fontana is and that he realizes it - a battle that many prospects lose with themselves.
He doesn't have much power and can get overpowered by a good fastball, so at upper levels, he'll have to give pitchers something to respect if he wants to work his way on base, but it's a good sign that the approach is already there. The swing is there too, with a fundamentally basic set-up and swing that doesn't try to do anything too fancy.
If he can hit .260, he could be a top-of-the-order hitter, simply because of his eye at the plate.