Bucs prospect Hanson gets long-awaited callup

23-year-old joins club while Marte is on paternity leave

Bucs prospect Hanson gets long-awaited callup

PITTSBURGH -- Standing in front of his locker at PNC Park on Monday afternoon, Alen Hanson remembered off-hand the exact date he signed with the Pirates: July 14, 2009. He probably won't forget this one, either.

With left fielder Starling Marte on paternity leave, the Pirates called up Hanson, long one of their top prospects, for the first time.

"This is sincerely a dream come true, especially to make it to the big leagues with a team that helped me become a better baseball player," Hanson said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez.

After receiving the news, Hanson called his mother first. She asked if everything was OK, and he told her to sit down. He said he'd been called up to the big leagues, and he heard the celebration begin.

Then he didn't hear anything. For 10 minutes.

"She accidentally hung up the phone and started celebrating," Hanson said, smiling. "Everyone started celebrating and she was like, 'I've got to call him back.'"

Signed out of the Dominican Republic, Hanson burst onto the scene with a monster season for Class A West Virginia in 2012. His stock has fallen in recent years, but he remains the Pirates' No. 10 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and the game's sixth-best second-base prospect.

The 23-year-old switch-hitter was batting .288/.309/.398 with seven steals in 27 games for Triple-A Indianapolis, continuing to showcase his impressive tools and occasional inconsistencies. He struck out in his first career at-bat while pinch-hitting for Jonathon Niese in the bottom of the sixth inning of Monday's 8-5 win.

"You can't imagine. Last night I was so happy," said outfielder Gregory Polanco, Hanson's Minor League teammate and close friend. "He's like my little brother. ... I'm very happy for him to be here. We have so much fun together. I'm very proud of him. I told him keep working and you'll be able to stay here for a long time."

Now Hanson's time has come, though it likely will only last three days while Marte is on the paternity list. Marte has been the Pirates' most productive player this season, batting .326/.374/.479 with three home runs, 14 RBIs and 12 steals.

"Unless something categorically goes sideways, it's three days. It's in and out," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We do believe he has a tool set that could add value to our club at some point in time this season. We still haven't seen the traction that we believe this young man can perform at this level in Triple-A.

"To come up here and let him smell it, touch it, taste it for three days then tell him to go back and get some things done, that's part of it."

Outfielder Matt Joyce replaced Marte in the lineup on Monday, and Polanco slid from right to left field. That leaves Hanson to fill a utility role, something he's been groomed for in Triple-A. 

A second baseman and shortstop for most of his career, Hanson started his last nine games in left field. He has also seen time at third base.

Offensively, Hanson offers a high ceiling and game-changing speed. He hit .309/.381/.528 with 16 homers, 13 triples, 33 doubles and 35 steals in 2012. The following spring, he was MLB.com's No. 54 overall prospect. Last year, he batted .263/.313/.387 for Indianapolis and stole 35 bases in 117 games.

"He's done things that are attractive. He's done things that get your attention," Hurdle said. "It does warrant the opportunity."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.