LAWRENCEVILLE — Tommy Hanson doesn’t appear to be taking the news personally. He knows eventually his time in the majors will come.
The Atlanta Braves’ top pitching prospect spent Thursday night starting for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves against the Toledo Mud Hens, while his friend and former G-Braves teammate Kris Medlen was making his first career pitching appearance for the Atlanta Braves against the Colorado Rockies, just 30-miles down the road at Turner Field in Atlanta.
Hanson liked the fact he was pitching at the same time as his roommate, even getting updates from the locker room to see how Medlin was faring in Atlanta.
Medlen’s call-up to Atlanta before Hanson is a surprise to some, since Hanson is widely considered the Braves’ top pitching prospect. Still, Hanson (3-3) took getting passed over for the call-up to Atlanta in stride, as evidenced by allowing only one hit and striking out nine over six innings in a 7-2 win against Toledo (17-23) on Thursday at Gwinnett Stadium.
"It feels nice to get this first win at home this season," Hanson said. "I think I did a good job getting pitches in the zone and getting hitters out."
Gwinnett (21-20) secured the win for Hanson with a two-run home run from Brooks Conrad, along with run scoring hits from Brandon Jones, Van Pope and Clint Sammons all in the six inning.
Right now, Medlen is the one with the abbreviated promotion to Atlanta, as left-hander Tom Glavine continues to rehabilitate his pitching shoulder. But Hanson, who made a name for himself in Grapefruit League play with the Braves this spring, continued his stretch of impressive outings, which includes allowing only two hits against Lehigh Valley in his last start on May 16.
Hanson’s now thrown at least six innings in each of his last six outings, but only picked up three wins in that stretch with inconsistent run support.
The numbers supported Medlen getting the promotion to the Braves before Hanson. Medlen, who won his past five decisions with the G-Braves, was sporting an International League leading 0.96 ERA.
Meanwhile, Hanson is getting stronger as the season progresses with 66 strikeouts in his last 46 2/3 innings pitched.
"Tonight and against Lehigh Valley was about as sharp as he’s looked all season," Clint Sammons, Gwinnett’s catcher said. "He’s really attacking hitters and doing a good job putting his fastball where he wants it."
G-Braves manager Dave Brundage says that Hanson’s calling card is his efficiency on the mound, which is much more important at the minor league level than simply a win-lose record.
"Tommy’s a workhorse on the mound," Brundage said. "My main concern is that he pitches deeper into ballgames, and I really like the direction he’s going."
Hanson’s first three seasons in the minor league were highlighted by a steady progression through the minor league system, highlighted by three impressive starts and a pair of relief appearances in spring training action this year with Atlanta.
He was tabbed as the Braves’ hottest pitching prospect after going 5-0 with a 0.63 ERA and 49 strikeouts with the Mesa Solar Sox in fall league play in Arizona. In 2008, Hanson was 8-4 in 18 starts with Double-A Mississippi after starting the season with a 3-1 mark and a 0.90 ERA in seven appearances with Single-A Myrtle Beach.
For the record, Medlen’s debute in Atlanta ended with a loss after he allowed five runs in the fourth inning in a 9-0 loss to the Rockies.
Eventually these two will be reunited in Gwinnett, provided Glavine is ready to return to pitch for the Braves.
Then Gwinnett will have its 1-2 punch of strong prospects back in its pitching rotation.