CHICAGO -- Alec Hansen, a 27-year-old Minor League hurler for the White Sox and one-time highly touted prospect, has retired from baseball as confirmed Thursday by the White Sox to MLB.com.
“We wish Alec all the best in his next chapter,” said White Sox assistant general manager/player development Chris Getz in a statement given to MLB.com. “Although he would've liked to pitch in the ML's [Major Leagues], he should not carry any regrets. He worked tirelessly in his pursuit that included many obstacles, and that type of effort will serve him well in his future.”
The 6-foot-8, 260-pound right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2016 Draft and with the 49th pick overall. The White Sox picked catcher Zack Collins (10th pick overall in the first round), right-handed reliever Zack Burdi (26th overall) and fellow right-handers Jimmy Lambert (fifth round) and Matt Foster (20th round) in that same Draft.
Hansen was once projected as a potential top pick overall out of Oklahoma in that 2016 Draft and was thought to be a major pickup for the White Sox when he signed for slot value of $1,284,500. Over three ’16 stops and 12 combined starts with Rookie League Arizona, Great Falls of the Pioneer League and Class A Kannapolis, Hansen posted a 1.32 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings.
But it was the 2017 season that truly put Hansen on the prospect map. He finished 11-8 with a 2.80 ERA over stints with Kannapolis, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham, leading the Minor Leagues with 191 strikeouts over 141 1/3 innings. He entered the 2018 season as the No. 4 White Sox prospect, per MLB Pipeline, ranked behind Eloy Jiménez, Michael Kopech and Luis Robert, and ahead of Dylan Cease, while also being ranked No. 54 overall in the Pipeline Top 100.
In a chat with the media after that breakout '17 season, Hansen set a 2018 Major League target for himself.
“I definitely feel like I'll be able to start consistently in the Major Leagues toward the end of next year," Hansen said during that conference call. “This first full year, it was great that it taught me about my arm and how my arm is going to feel in between every start and how my body is going to feel throughout the season. I can go into this offseason and work out and get my body the way I want it to going into Spring Training and be able to maintain that throughout the season next year.
“I'll have a lot more confidence and experience that's going to help me. By the end of next year, that experience and confidence in my body will be where it needs to be to be in the Major Leagues for good.”
Unfortunately, Hansen couldn’t maintain this lofty status. He started '18 on Birmingham’s injured list with a strained right forearm and didn’t make his debut until June 16. He had an 0-5 record with a 6.31 ERA over 14 starts for Birmingham and Winston-Salem, striking out 55 against 59 walks in 51 1/3 innings.
Hansen, who recorded 436 strikeouts in 322 career innings, worked in relief during the '19 and '21 seasons, making just one start in 61 combined appearances, but he could never command the strike zone consistently. According to his MiLB.com player page, Hansen retired on Jan. 12.