Hanson Takes Step Forward For Pirates

Best Player: Righthander Gerrit Cole has made an easy transition to professional baseball after being the No. 1 overall selection in last year's draft and receiving an $8-million signing bonus.

Cole went 5-1, 2.55 in 13 starts at high Class A Bradenton. He struck out 69 in 67 innings and walked 21.

He then won his Double-A debut with Altoona as he held New Britain to two runs on five hits in five innings on June 20, striking out six without issuing a walk.

Cole has been everything the Pirates thought he would be—a hard-thrower with an upper-90s fastball along with outstanding breaking pitches and a developing changeup that is flashing plus at times.

Biggest Leap Forward: Shortstop Alen Hanson was best known for his outstanding athleticism prior to this season. Now, he is known for his production.

Hanson has been one of the best hitters in the low Class A South Atlantic League while playing for West Virginia. Through 66 games and 269 at-bats, he was hitting .316/.377/.561 with 10 home runs, 37 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

Hanson still has some rough spots as he had struck out 63 times and been caught stealing in 12 of his 30 attempts. However, considering he is just 18, he has plenty of time to grow.

Biggest Disappointment: Stetson Allie, the Pirates' second-round draft pick in 2010, walked 29 batters in 26 innings last season in his pro debut at short-season State College. Things got worse this season at West Virginia as he walked eight of the 11 batters he faced in two relief appearances before being sent to extended spring training.

Allie's wildness reached a point in extended spring that he and the Pirates decided to try a conversion to third base. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington says Allie has as much raw power as anyone in the system and he hit a triple on Opening Day in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Treasure Trove

• State College righthander Luis Heredia pitched four scoreless innings in his first start of the New York-Penn League season. Though Heredia is just 17, the Pirates believe the Mexico native, who was considered the top amateur pitching prospect in Latin America two years ago, has the maturity to handle facing older competition.

• Infielder Gustavo Nunez, selected from the Tigers in the Rule 5 Draft last December, has yet to play this season after suffering a right-ankle injury early in spring training that required surgery and may miss the entire year.