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Hansen's confidence grows after 15-K outing

White Sox No. 10 prospect represents talent beyond the first round of Draft
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Striking out 15 in a game clearly boosts the confidence of any pitcher.

But for Alec Hansen, the 10th-ranked White Sox prospect per MLBPipeline.com, those 15 punchouts put up for Class A Kannapolis against Greensboro on May 28 rated second to the zero in his walk column during that seven-inning effort.

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CHICAGO -- Striking out 15 in a game clearly boosts the confidence of any pitcher.

But for Alec Hansen, the 10th-ranked White Sox prospect per MLBPipeline.com, those 15 punchouts put up for Class A Kannapolis against Greensboro on May 28 rated second to the zero in his walk column during that seven-inning effort.

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"That's the first time I've had no walks in a while," Hansen told MLB.com during a recent interview. "So that was something that kind of went unnoticed."

Hansen, 22, has made 23 Minor League starts, and his 15-strikeout dominance marked appearance No. 3 without the 6-foot-7 right-hander giving up a walk. It also stood as his fifth career game with double-digit strikeouts.

After being selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Hansen breezed through 10 combined starts for the Rookie-level Arizona White Sox and Great Falls with 70 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings. Hansen had a quick Class A Kannapolis, but he has received a greater view of the higher level of competition during his first full season.

"The biggest thing that I've learned is just the level of talent," Hansen said. "I mean, everyone is a professional. And everyone is here for a reason. I've realized just what it takes to be one of the best. I've seen some really good hitters and pitchers. It kind of puts it into perspective for you."

When Hansen was asked if he felt a bit above the competition in 2016, he replied, "Yeah, otherwise I don't think I would be saying that."

"I definitely thought college was, especially Division I, they had pretty good competition," Hansen continued. "Here it's all the best players from each team in college and some high school, some of the best guys in high school. So I'm playing amongst everyone who is the best player on their teams."

The 2017 MLB Draft begins this Monday, and Hansen represents talent beyond the first-round selection. He was thought to be a potential No. 1 overall pick for the '16 Draft after his '15 season at Oklahoma, but despite a drop in '16 for the Sooners, the White Sox are thrilled to have stayed with him.

"To see Alec have that success, it really justifies what we are doing," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, who credited area scout Clay Overkash as the man who stayed with Hansen and signed him. "You want to be right all the time, but to be on a guy that you really have to step out and take when the industry was down on, yeah, you puff your chest out and get excited about it."

As for Hansen's advice to prospective picks, he keeps that thought process simple.

"Enjoy it, and just come in to whatever organization you go to and be all ears," said Hansen of the Draft. "That's my biggest piece of advice, I guess."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox