Pete Hansen isn’t a flashy pitcher. The left-hander has excelled in his three seasons at Texas despite his fastball topping out in the low-90s. Hansen’s strong understanding of pitching, ability to mix his pitches and proven success attacking the strike zone have allowed him to dominate opposing hitters.
Hansen has the intangibles to thrive in the professional ranks. While his velocity doesn’t blow anyone away, Hansen’s premium pitchability intrigues scouts. Scouts also believe his fastball velocity will experience an uptick in velocity as he matures physically.
Hanson is eligible for July’s MLB draft, and scouts believe he could hear his name called in the early rounds.
“It’s obviously in everyone’s minds,” Hansen said. “You can’t really ignore it. People like to talk about it. But I do my best to try to ignore it. I don’t really spend too much time thinking about it. I’m focused on winning ball games. You win enough games, and you are probably doing something right. My goal is to win a national championship, and I think the rest will work out.”
After pitching in 17 innings during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Hansen posted a 1.88 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 23 walks allowed in 91 innings. This season, Hansen has served as Texas’ ace, recording a 3.20 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 12 walks allowed in 70 1/3 innings.
Hansen is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound left-hander that throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, slider, curveball and changeup from a high three-quarters arm slot. He deploys a polished, low-effort and repeatable delivery.
The lefty mixes his pitches well but leans on his four-seam fastball, slider combination. His four-seam fastball typically sits 89-91 mph and tops out at 92 mph. His slider is an above-average offering that features horizontal and vertical movement. The breaking pitch serves as his strikeout pitch and is effective against right-handed and left-handed hitters.
Hansen typically relies on his four-seam fastball but will occasionally mix in a two-seamer due to its movement. He flashes his curveball early in counts, while his recently-developed changeup features depth and generates weak contact.
Hansen has a strong feel for all of his pitches and has confidence in throwing any pitch in any situation.
“I just have that trust with my stuff,” Hansen said. “When I need to bury my slider, I will get it down. If I want the fastball off the plate, I will extend it a little bit. My biggest strength is my ability to throw my pitches where I want.”
While Hansen does a tremendous job of attacking the strike zone, he wants to improve on the command and control of his pitches to limit his mistakes.
In his first 11 starts this season, Hansen has surrendered 12 home runs, with 11 of the home runs coming in three starts.
“I have gotten in trouble with some multi-home run games,” Hansen said. “I have been good with not having guys on base. Keeping the free passes down will be a key for me. Cheap hits are going to happen. Guys are going to hit home runs. But limiting my walks is key for me.”
Last year, Texas advanced to the College World Series for the second time in the last three postseasons. The Longhorns finished third in the College World Series and posted a 50-17 record last season.
This spring, the Longhorns are one of the top teams in college baseball, boasting a 31-16 record with less than a month left in the regular season. They hope to return to the College World Series and capture the program’s first national championship since 2005.
“It starts with the pitching for us,” Hansen said. “We set the tone. The hitters have been raking lately and have put the team on their backs. They will continue to do that. The pitching has to step up. We haven’t been doing our jobs as great as we have wanted to lately. We’re almost there. We are starting to peak right now. I’m feeling good heading into the last couple of weeks and the postseason.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.