Fergus Falls Fireballer: After a year in the minors, Hansen looks to improvePublished 10:08am Monday, July 8, 2013
Last year, former Fergus Falls Otter and Augustana Vikings’ pitcher Derek Hansen was finishing his junior year of college, when he got the call.
The Oakland Athletics selected the pitcher in the 25th round, 769th overall, in the 2012 first year player draft. Hansen would sign with the A’s two-days later, starting the journey from Division II college baseball to the minor leagues.
Spending last season in with the Athletic’s rookie league team, Hansen currently is playing for the Vermont Lake Monsters in the New York Pennsylvania league.
“My first full year has been a grind,” Hansen said. “I was hoping to break spring camp with a team, but there ended up being not enough spots so I stayed in Arizona till the first week of June. Now that we have started playing real games, it has been fun.”
Working on his pitching mechanics and consistency, Hansen currently holds a 1-1 record in five appearances this season for the Lake Monsters, posting a 1.35 ERA in six and two-thirds innings. He has gained better control of his four-pitch reserve, while also working on his mental focus and awareness.
Hansen role with the Lake Monsters is something of an adjustment. After being used as a starting pitcher for the Otters and Vikings, he has now settled into a relief role with Vermont. “You just accept any role that they give you.”
The biggest adjustment for Hansen has been the level of competition as team’s trot out great hitters from top to bottom of its lineups and pitchers are more developed. “Players don’t really get those bloop hits as easily with wood bats than metal,” Hansen said of the difference between the minors and college. “But with the hitters here, there isn’t much difference from the use of wood bats.”
During last year’s off-season, Hansen took a few months off from throwing and looked to add bulk to his 6’1 frame. He focused on improving his leg strength to add more power from the mound. Nearing the end of December, the Fergus Falls native began the team’s throwing program that prepared him for the upcoming season.
When he isn’t at the field, Hansen is hard at work completing his business degree. “We usually get to the field around 1 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. game, so there really isn’t much down time anymore,” Hansen added.
This has also been another adjustment for Hansen as baseball is now year round job. “I knew coming into this is wasn’t going to be easy, so I have my own routine every day that helps me get through days that you feel sore or tired.”
Hansen hopes that his hard work will pay dividends sooner rather than later, setting a goal to be in High-Class A or AA within two years. With major league aspirations, Hansen relies on the support of his parents and his girlfriend, Brittany, to keep him focused as he continues to pursue his dream.