Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez are household names to White Sox fans after the organization bolstered its farm system this past offseason with a couple blockbuster trades. Luis Robert is already ranked as the team's No. 3 prospect after signing Saturday.
But there were a few top prospects already kicking around the organization before those moves, and one of them struck out 15 batters Sunday night.
Alec Hansen, currently ranked as the organization's No. 10 prospect and last year's second-round draft pick, punched out 15 Greensboro Grasshoppers, allowing just one run in seven innings in the Kannapolis Intimidators' 8-1 win.
It was the continuation of an impressive trend for Hansen this season. He lowered his ERA below 3.00 down to 2.96 on Sunday and has struck out 67 hitters in his 10 starts.
“It was pretty much, for the most part, like my last starts have been going," Hansen said after the game in an interview with team radio. "I’ve been throwing strikes. Just got a lot of swing and misses tonight, really. I think if you back and look at it, they had a lot of swing and misses, it wasn’t a lot of backwards Ks. I guess my stuff was just better tonight than it had been.”
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Hansen has put up tremendous numbers since joining the White Sox organization after what was a challenging junior season at Oklahoma that ended with a 5.40 ERA.
But in 12 minor league starts in 2016, he turned in a pencil-thin 1.32 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.
He gave up nine earned runs in his first four starts of this season — two of which lasted fewer than four innings — but in the six starts since, he's got a 2.23 ERA in 36.1 innings.
"I’ve been pitching pretty well, and I think I’ve just been going out there and pitching, really," Hansen said. "It sounds simple, but that’s really all it is.
“(What happened) tonight, I’m not expecting that next time out. I just want to keep working and just keep getting outs. I think the biggest thing was no walks tonight. If I can keep doing that, getting deep in games, I think that’s my focus going forward.”
Normally, a 15-strikeout outing like Hansen's would be the organization's minor league highlight of the week. But Giolito, ranked as the team's No. 2 prospect, stole Hansen's thunder with a no-hitter that earned him International League Pitcher of the Week honors Monday.
Lucas Giolito was an easy choice to be named the International League Pitcher of the Week.
Though the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox organization only made one appearance, he dazzled. The 22-year-old threw a seven-inning no-hitter on Thursday against the Syracuse Nationals, the organization that dealt him in a deal for Adam Eaton this past offseason. It was the fourth no-hitter in Charlotte Knights history, and the first since 2013.
Giolito has had his struggles in 2017 but feels he's moving past them. After a shaky start he has been stellar in his last three outings, allowing just five earned runs in his last 18 innings.
The Knights are the first team this year to have three different players win Player of the Week awards. Outfielder Willy Garcia and top prospect Yoan Moncada previously won Batter of the Week honors.