Seattle Mariners sign utilityman, former top prospect to MILB deal

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 25: Dee Gordon #9 of the Seattle Mariners steals second base as second baseman Alen Hanson #19 of the San Francisco Giants cannot hold on to a throw by catcher Nick Hundley #5 of the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a game at Safeco Field on July 25, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. Gordon advanced to third base on the throwing error. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 25: Dee Gordon #9 of the Seattle Mariners steals second base as second baseman Alen Hanson #19 of the San Francisco Giants cannot hold on to a throw by catcher Nick Hundley #5 of the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a game at Safeco Field on July 25, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. Gordon advanced to third base on the throwing error. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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The Seattle Mariners have added an interesting name to their utility man competition, bringing in a former top prospect on a minor league deal.

On Thursday, the Mariners signed Alen Hanson to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Hanson gives the team some outfield depth for the spring in the wake of Mitch Haniger‘s setback, but also adds yet another player to watch compete for the 26th roster spot.

Hanson was once thought of as one of the premier prospects in the game. Scouts fully bought into his plus speed, line-drive swing, and athleticism. Many believed he could be a full-time second baseman with a profile similar to Chone Figgins (when he played for the Angels).

But while Hanson still possesses the speed and athleticism that made him so intriguing, he has been an unmitigated disaster at the plate in his 625 big league plate appearances. He has posted a .232/.266/.368 slash line with 12 home runs and 21 stolen bases in his limited opportunities.

Hanson does a nice job of putting the ball in play, striking out at just below the league average clip, but also does not take walks. Seattle has taken chances on these low K, low BB type of bats before, namely Ryon Healy.

But Hanson doesn’t have near the power of Healy, so his leash will be significantly shorter. It is highly unlikely Hanson makes the club out of Spring Training but may find himself in Tacoma where he will have an opportunity to right the ship.

One thing that Hanson has going for him, besides the speed and athleticism, is his versatility. Hanson has played every position except for pitcher and catcher in his career, though he has never been much more than fringe-average anywhere.

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Hanson will almost certainly begin the spring behind Dee Gordon, Dylan Moore, and Tim Lopes on the depth chart and will need to do something miraculous to find himself in Seattle on March 26th. But the Mariners are taking a chance on a talented athlete. And sometimes, those lotto tickets pay off.

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