Hansen was promoted to Double-A Birmingham on Saturday, James Fegan of The Athletic reports. Hansen has tried his hand at Double-A in both of the last two seasons, struggling to a 6.07 ERA in 11 starts. He'll be back there as a reliever this time around after recording a 2.13 ERA and a 44.7 percent strikeout rate in 12.2 innings of relief for High-A Winston Salem.
Hansen will be used out of the bullpen at High-A Winston Salem to begin the season, Scot Gregor of the Chicago Daily Herald reports. Since being nabbed by the White Sox in the second round of the 2016 first-year player draft, Hansen has endured multiple health setbacks while often displaying shaky control, despite racking up some gaudy strikeout totals along the way. It's unclear if Chicago has abandoned developing him as a starter just yet, but a permanent move to the bullpen would likely dampen his outlook in dynasty formats. On the positive side, working in relief would likely accelerate Hansen's arrival to the big leagues, and he possesses the skill set to potentially dominate in a late-inning role.
Hansen dealt with right shoulder soreness over the offseason but is feeling better now, James Fegan of The Athletic reports. It's unclear if this issue cropped up during the season or not, but if it did, it could help explain why the pitching prospect put up a 6.31 ERA between High-A and Double-A last season after leading the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2017. Regardless, Hansen appears to be fully healthy now and will look to bounce back in 2019, presumably with Double-A Birmingham.
Hansen allowed one hit and two walks while striking out one over two scoreless innings for High-A Kannapolis. This was Hansen's first start following his demotion from Double-A Birmingham. Hansen, who led the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2017, hit a developmental road block this year, starting with a right forearm injury in spring training. The 23-year-old right-hander didn't start pitching in game conditions until June and by that time, was all out of rhythm. The White Sox hope Hansen can build off his two-inning outing and finish the season with some positives.
Hansen (forearm) was tagged for six runs on nine hits and a walk across 4.2 innings in his season debut for Double-A Birmingham on Saturday. He struck out four during the outing. Hansen wasn't especially sharp in his season debut, which was delayed after he experienced right forearm tightness during spring training. Assuming Hansen regains velocity in his subsequent outings and shows improved command, he should still be viewed as one of the higher-upside pitching prospects in the White Sox's system. Hansen racked up 191 strikeouts across stops at three different affiliates in 2017 to lead all minor-league pitchers.
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