Alec Hansen Won't Rest On Past Success
At 6-foot-8, righthander Alec Hansen has a large enough frame to carry as much weight as he wants.
After pitching at 235 pounds last season, the 23-year-old reigning minor league strikeout champ opted to slim down over the winter.
"Last year I was a little bit heavier, and I think that kind of hampered me a little bit," Hansen said. "Pitching is all about creating force, and the faster you can create force, the harder you're going to throw. It's just physics. I think I've gotten in really good shape this offseason."
That is good news for the White Sox and bad news for opposing hitters.
Even in his "hampered" state, Hansen went a combined 11-8, 2.80 in 26 starts last year, mostly at low Class A Kannapolis and high Class A Winston-Salem. He made two starts at Double-A Birmingham, where he added 17 strikeouts in 10.1 innings to his total of 191 in 141.1 innings.
Adding even more zip to a fastball that regularly clocks in the upper 90s would take Hansen's game to an even higher level.
"I think he's a big, strong guy who throws the ball in the mid- to upper 90s," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "He has a curveball that breaks like a freaking firecracker, a slider that is hard and sharp, and a changeup that is progressing.
"And he's a guy who has work to do, like everybody."
Hansen, a 2016 second-rounder out of Oklahoma, hopes to reach the big leagues in 2018, when he is expected to open at Birmingham.
"I don't think there's any way I would start with the big league team," he said. "I'm just going to take it game by game in Double-A, like I did last year, and just build on each game and just move up the ladder."
Leading the minors in strikeouts doesn't impress Hansen all that much.
"That's definitely cool," Hansen said, "but it is the minor leagues, so it's not the best of the best. Anyone who plays this game, I think, wants to be the best, so I didn't reflect on it too much. I just went into the offseason with the things I wanted to work on."
Hansen walked 3.2 per nine innings last season and is focused on throwing more strikes.
"Command is everything, so I'm always working on command," Hansen said. "I think that just comes with repetition. I feel like I've made leaps and bounds with my command since college, and that's just because I've gotten to pitch every fifth or sixth day."
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• Jacob May, Chicago's Opening Day center fielder last year, was outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte to clear 40-man roster space for righthander Miguel Gonzalez.