Alex Hassan of the Portland Sea Dogs steps up to the plate in this year's Futures at Fenway event. (Photo by Marc Normandin)
Futures at Fenway is an aptly named event, as you get a chance to see the future of the Red Sox organization playing in their beloved home park years before they will actually get the chance. Assuming, of course, many of them will at all. For most Red Sox farmhands, Futures at Fenway is the one and only way for them to play in this park in a game that counts in the standings -- their best chance at a repeat performance is another Futures at Fenway event, not a major league career.
That isn't the case for every minor leaguer playing, of course. Both the Sea Dogs (Charlie Haeger) and PawSox's starters (Kyle Weiland) on Saturday had MLB starts under their belt. Jose Iglesias was called up briefly earlier this season as an injury replacement, and is expected to have a career. For every one of those types, though, there are a handful that are minor league lifers.
That's why Futures at Fenway has to be extra special for Alex Hassan of Double-A Portland. Hassan is a Milton, Massachusetts native, and even though he has a shot at making the majors and sticking there, he has now played -- and played well -- in the park he grew up just south of.
Hassan went 3-for-4 with a walk against the Binghamton Mets, and even held a runner to a wall ball single thanks to playing a liner off of the Monster like he had done it many times before. He also had an impressive home run to center field that landed on top of the camera housing's roof:
Hassan occasionally has trouble using his whole body to drive the baseball. There were a few instances on Saturday -- including one where he pulled a single down the third base line -- where he seemed to step a bit early, and was then forced to use his upper body only on the swing:
As you can see in the first video above, that wasn't an issue on the swing that netted him a homer to center at Fenway. He steps at the appropriate time, and is able to crush the ball thanks to the extra power generated by his legs. Granted, it's kind of subtle, and the swing itself still looks good whether he uses his legs or not. But you can see the difference in timing in the two swings, as well as the markedly different results.
Hassan has hit .298/.416/.463 for the Sea Dogs this year, and has displayed advanced pitch recognition and plate discipline. He still needs to work on some of his swing mechanics to remain consistent, but the tools and skills are there. Because of this, Hassan, unlike many of his peers, has a chance at future homers at Fenway, and not just once a year.