San Francisco Giants sign former top prospect Tommy Hanson for starting pitching depth
Signing a 28-year-old starting pitcher with a career ERA+ of 104 would usually cost a team tens of millions of dollars. To sign one who once had an ERA+ of 143 as a 22-year-old might cost nine-figures.
According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants have just signed someone with that resume to a minor-league deal—former Braves starting pitching standout and 2009 top prospect Tommy Hanson.
The best part of all this is that Hanson is still just 28. However, you can’t ignore how fast he lost his way. He hasn’t seen the Majors since 2013 when he was a member of the Angels, and he didn’t last long that season as lingering shoulder troubles led to an abysmal 5.43 ERA in only 73 innings.
Prior to that, he was an emerging ace for a very good Braves ball club. Baseball analysts always postulated that Hanson would suffer an injury due to his unorthodox delivery, and those fears came true in his first year in Anaheim.
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After being non-tendered by the Angels, he was picked up on a major-league deal by the Texas Rangers, who quickly released him. His youth and promise was too much for teams to ignore, so the White Sox gave him a chance on a minor-league contract. He threw to a 6.16 ERA in that season for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate and was placed on the DL June 12th, 2014.
This will be his first attempt at a comeback since.
The risk is minimal for a club that doesn’t possess a great deal of major league-ready pitching depth. The Giants are obviously in search of bolstering their depth, as evidenced by their recent Ricky Romero signing. A year off may have allowed his shoulder to rest. More importantly, it may have allowed his mind to take a break from what was a three-year period he would just as soon forget.
We’ve seen a former young Angels pitcher come back from an equally dismal stretch in A’s starter Scott Kazmir. After taking some time off and pitching in independent ball, he regained his form and has since become one of the better pitchers in the AL West.
Hopefully, the Giants won’t be forced to call Hanson up, and he will instead force their hand with a string of quality outings.