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Compiled by Josh Cooper, Aaron Fitt and John Manuel
August 12, 2005

Blessed with a mid-90s fastball and a biting slider, Craig Hansen may be the first of the 2005 draft class to reach the major leagues. Taken by the Red Sox as the 26th pick overall, Hansen made his professional debut last night for Double-A Portland. Boston general manager Theo Epstein was on hand, and he did not leave disappointed.

Hansen, a dominant closer this spring at St. John's, pitched a scoreless ninth inning to save a 3-2 Sea Dogs victory against Norwich. Allowing only a soft single, Hansen hit 96 on the radar gun and struck out the first professional batter he faced on three pitches. All nine pitches he threw were strikes.

Hansen, who signed on July 23, debuted after making two appearances in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He arrived in Portland only hours before the game, and based on his first performance, he may not be staying for long.

On his first professional start: "There were definitely a few nerves, but I kept my composure. That's always a big part of it. It felt like my velocity and command were there. I felt solid. It felt great to be back on the mound, and I feel like I did my job." 

On being assigned to Double-A Portland: "They told me on Monday, after one of my Gulf Coast League outings. Until then, I didn't really know where I'd be going. I didn't really need to know. I didn't have expectations, because my job is to do what they tell me and try to get hitters out."

On his slider, which he's thrown as hard as 90 mph: "I threw two or three last night, and it felt good. It took a few pens to regain the feel for it after the lay-off, but it's there. I'm not sure how hard I was throwing it. I don't pay much attention to the numbers."

On developing his changeup: "I'm working on it every day. I'm long-tossing with it, and trying to build up the muscle-memory and get a permanent feel. It's getting close to where I need it to be, to where I can be consistent with it. It's a pitch I want to use to complement my fastball and slider, even as a closer."

On whether his future is as a starter or as closer: "That's really up to the Red Sox. I don't really know. We'll wait until the offseason and talk about it then. I went seven innings in my last game at St. John's, in the regionals. They told me I threw 95 in the beginning, and 95 in the end, so I know I can maintain my stuff. But it's up to them. Ultimately, it's not my choice."

On joining baseball’s biggest rivalry: "Half of my family are Yankee fans, and the other half Mets fans. But in college, I became more and more of a baseball fan than a fan of just one team. I've come to Fenway a few times, and have been amazed by the passion. It will be a thrill to pitch there. When I do, I'm not going to change anything. I'm just going to go with what works for me mentally. I'm composed on the mound, and that's one reason I'm here right now."



• The quote of the night came from Triple-A Indianapolis second baseman Bobby Hill, who apparently hasn't gotten the big leagues out of his system: "Is this Webb guy we're facing Brandon Webb—the guy from the Diamondbacks?" Although Brandon Webb actually did pitch last night, he was facing the Marlins in Florida, not the Indians in Durham. That was Devil Rays righthander John Webb, who actually was in the Cubs organization the same time Webb was (though they were never teammates). But Hill was obviously reading his Baseball America, as his next line after finding out he wasn't facing BA's (2003) Rookie Of The Year was . . . "I hear this B.J. Upton is legit."

• If there's one thing the White Sox organization has, it's outfielders. The best one might be Brian Anderson, the 2003 first-round pick out of Arizona. He went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles to lead Triple-A Charlotte to a 9-4 win at Richmond, as the Knights sent Anthony Lerew to his second straight loss. In two August starts, Lerew—the top pitching prospect in the Braves' system who hasn't seen time in Atlanta—has given up 12 runs (10 earned) in 9 2/3 innings. Anderson improved to .298/.365/.481 with 15 homers, 23 doubles and 54 RBIs on the season.

• Speaking of White Sox outfielders, Birmingham's Chris Young went off Thursday, driving in six runs in a 17-11 come-from-behind win against Huntsville. He doubled twice and knocked during a 10-run eighth-inning rally to get the win and improved his overall numbers to .273-20-62 with 37 doubles.

• If the Red Sox need him in the bullpen down the stretch, Jon Papelbon appears to be ready. The former Mississippi State closer (12 saves combined in 2002-2003) got his first professional save with three perfect innings in Pawtucket's 4-1 win at Scranton/Wilkes Barre last night, striking out four in the process.

• Astros righthander Jason Hirsh limited Double-A Wichita to a pair of runs on six hits while striking out nine and walking none over 8 1/3 innings in Corpus Christi's 3-2 win. Hirsh, a second-round pick out of NAIA California Lutheran in 2003, has won three straight decisions and is now 11-8, 3.32 with a 143-39 strikeout-walk ratio in 146 innings. He has struck out at least eight batters in seven of his last 10 starts.

"He did a hell of a job when I saw him," a scout with an American League club said of Hirsh last month. "He's improved his secondary pitches, his slider and changeup. He's athletic and reminds me of (Rangers righthander) Chris Young. He holds his velocity, too—I had him throwing up to 94 in the late innings."

• Four San Jose Giants had three-hit games in a 13-10 loss against Bakersfield in the California League. Leading the way for San Jose was first baseman Travis Ishikawa, who went 3-for-5 with a double, a homer and five RBIs. The home run was Ishikawa's 18th of the season, but just his second since July 20, a span of 56 at-bats.

• Padres catcher Colt Morton went deep again a day after hitting two home runs for high Class A Lake Elsinore. It was his sixth homer in the Cal League and 16th of the year between low Class A Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore.

• White Sox righthander Lance Broadway, their first-round pick in June out of Texas Christian, threw six shutout innings while striking out seven in high Class A Winston-Salem's 3-1 win against Wilmington. Broadway has gone at least five innings in each of his last seven starts, allowing no more than three earned runs in any of them, and is 1-1, 2.74 with 47 strikeouts and 15 walks in 43 innings on the year.

• Double-A Reading outfielder Chris Roberson continued his scorching August with a three-run homer to lead Reading past Altoona 4-2. He's hitting .318/.374/.489 overall with 15 homers, 63 RBIs and 28 stolen bases (in 42 chances). Roberson is 16-for-45 (.356) in August and .342 with 13 homers since June 1.

• Tigers outfielder Jeff Frazier is picking up steam as the year goes along. He had his third straight two-hit game in a 10-3 win Thursday against Wisconsin with his 11th homer. Since July 1, Frazier—a second-round pick out of Rutgers—is hitting .355 in 39 games with 22 doubles and five home runs.

Homer Bailey won his duel with fellow 2004 first-round pick Eric Hurley last night, dominating Clinton for five innings of Dayton's 4-0 victory. Bailey struck out a career-high 11 in five shutout frames, walking only one while giving up two hits. Bailey threw 77 pitches and got his last five outs via the strikeout. Dayton had lost five straight.

Eli Iorg went 0-for-4 yesterday in Greenville's game against Burlington to halt his six-game hit streak. The Astros supplemental first round pick (38th overall), Iorg has now had at least one base hit in 13 of his 17 games played. Oddly, on his last hit streak, Iorg only had one multi-hit game.

• Slumping former Princeton slugger Will Venable has shown glimpses of breaking out of his summer long-funk in the past two games. While the Padres' seventh-round pick has yet to cross .200, and at times even had difficulty passing the .100 mark, he has five hits in his last nine at-bats to raise his average to .197. He couldn't help Eugene avoid a 9-1 loss to Everett yesterday, though.

• Yesterday we mentioned that Rookie-level Helena had not lost in the second half of the Pioneer League season. That is no longer true. Casper shut down Helena as righthanders Chaz Roe, Byron Binda, Brett Strickland and Alan Johnson combined to allow just five hits and two earned runs while Christopher Cook provided the offense, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the 6-2 win.

• Finally, two corrections from yesterday's Dish: Taylor Teagarden had two home runs among his three hits Wednesday, and we had the wrong Romero at high Class A Dunedin. It was lefty Davis Romero, not first-round pick Ricky, with the 11 strikeouts in six innings. In fact, Davis Romero has 45 strikeouts in his last 42 2/3 innings.

Contributing: Chris Kline.

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