The Pirates have placed infielder Alen Hanson on waivers, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Additionally, infielder Gift Ngoepe has been optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. A pair of corresponding moves will be announced tomorrow, Biertempfel notes, adding that infielder Max Moroff is one candidate to be added to the big league roster.
Hanson, 24, long rated as one of the Bucs’ top prospects and at one point was a consensus top 100 prospect in the game. However, his offensive production began to trail off upon reaching Triple-A, and he’s batted just .205/.239/.261 in a combined 92 plate appearances between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The bulk of his time in the field as a big leaguer has come at second base, though defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved don’t paint a favorable picture.
Hanson broke camp with the Pirates due largely to the fact that he’s out of minor league options, and that same fact may at least give Pittsburgh hope of passing him through outright waivers. Any club placing a claim on Hanson would have to be prepared to carry him on its 25-man roster (or simply attempt to run him through waivers once again with the hope that he’d clear a second time around).
Ngoepe, the first African-born player ever to reach the Major Leagues, made his big league debut earlier this season and has seen action in 27 games with the Pirates. In 63 plate appearances, the 27-year-old has batted .222/.323/.296 with a pair of doubles and a triple. Ngoepe turned in strong defensive marks in a small sample of 110 innings at second base and also saw time at shortstop (26 innings) and third base (14 innings). However, he struck out in 41 percent of his trips to the plate, demonstrating that there’s still more for him to work on at the dish.