Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s the Atlanta Braves were rolling out quality starting pitchers like the Colorado Rockies were rolling out guys who could hit 30 HR’s. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Kevin Millwood, Jason Schmidt, Denny Neagle, Jason Marquis, Damian Moss and even Odalis Perez were winning games for the Braves in their glory years.
However, things have changed over the last couple of years. The Braves have struggled to produce the type of pitcher that made them successful in the 90’s – until now. Top prospect Tommy Hanson’s hot start is giving Braves’ fans flashbacks of aces past.
Tommy Hanson has won his first four decisions in the major leagues and has a 2.48 ERA in five starts. And it’s not like Hanson has been pitching against cream puff offenses either. In his first five starts, Hanson has pitched against the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Brewers, Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox all rank in the top 15 in offense in baseball.
What I have seen from Hanson in his last two starts against the Yankees and the Red Sox, is a pitcher who is very sure of himself. It’s very rare that you see a pitcher at such a young age to have a gameplan on the mound and stick to it no matter what is going on around him. Very impressive.
Here are some other facts about Tommy Hanson…
College: Riverside Community College
Drafted: 22nd round of the 2005 Draft
Minor League Stats
2006 Rookie Ball: 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 56 K’s in 51.2 IP
2007 Single A: 2-6 with a 2.59 ERA and 90 K’s in 73 IP
2007 Single A+: 3-3 with a 4.20 ERA and 64 K’s in 60 IP
2008 Single A+: 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 49 K’s in 40 IP
2008 Double A: 8-4 with a 3.03 ERA and 114 K’s in 98 IP
2009 Triple A: 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA and 90 K’s in 66.1 IP
Keith Law Ranking and Analysis
Ranking: No. 9 out of 100 best prospects in baseball
Analysis: “Hanson made the top 100 last year as a bit of a sleeper whose upside made him worthy of the relatively high ranking, but in 2008 he cemented his status as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Hanson projects as a potential No. 1 starter, with a four-pitch arsenal headlined by a 92-95 mph fastball and a plus curveball with great depth.
He’s 6-6 and gets good angle on his pitches, thanks in part to the work of the late Myrtle Beach pitching coach, Bruce Dal Canton, in keeping him over the rubber. He still has room to fill out physically and perhaps add a little velocity, and adding a slider last year gave him yet another weapon to miss bats.
Hanson has a few areas for improvement — his changeup is below average, so he doesn’t have a real out pitch against lefties; his command and control are both below average, although he can just overpower minor league hitters, which keeps him below the top 10.
He’s probably less than a year from contributing in the majors.”