As evidenced by the season’s first Prospect Hot Sheet, righthander Tommy Hanson simply dominated opposing hitters in his first two outings.
Last Friday, Opening Day for the Carolina League, Hanson took the mound for Myrtle Beach and faced 16 Wilmington hitters. Of those 16, 13 were retired via the strikeout and Hanson only needed 68 pitches to do so. He didn’t allow a hit and only walked one.
“He was commanding his fastball and curve well,” pitching coach Bruce Dal Canton said. “He was working both sides of the plate.”
Command has been the key for Hanson’s quick start, something he didn’t have last year. He’s always been known as a control guy, but he’s improved his command (his ability to hit spots in the strike zone) since last season. Dal Canton added that his curveball is tighter than last year, which also has helped stack up the strikeouts.
In 2007, at low Class A Rome he had about a 3-1 K-BB ratio, but didn’t get much support and went 2-6, 2.59 in 73 innings. His midseason promotion to high Class A was accompanied by more walks as he had a perfect 2-1 ratio (64-32 K-BB in 60 innings). He also left too many pitches up in the zone and was tagged with 10 home runs with Myrtle Beach.
Hanson has worked on a changeup and has a decent feel for it, but hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to throw it yet. His curveball isn’t quite 12-to-6, closer to 2-to-8, but it’s not loopy, as it was in 2007. His fastball velocity is up from last year also. Del Canton said he was 92-93 mph and touched 94 on occasion.
His second start came against Potomac, where he threw six innings, allowed one hit, two walks and struck out seven.