Alex Hassan was drafted out of Duke University in the 20th round of the 2009 draft. Hassan was originally drafted as a pitcher, but he ended up signing as an outfielder, and has played that position since signing with the Red Sox organization. Hassan had a great 2010 season in Salem, posting a .287 batting average and collecting 98 hits. Hassan discusses how he ended up signing as an outfielder, as well as how he overcame his early offensive struggles in Salem last year.
You were originally drafted as a pitcher, so can you describe how that whole process went from being drafted as a pitcher being signed as an outfielder?
Before the draft, all the teams told me I was going to be a
pitcher, and were really looking at me on the mound. Then probably a month
before the draft, I pull my oblique and didn’t pitch. The last month before the
draft, I could only hit, and so I didn’t get drafted where I wanted to get
drafted, so the team that drafted me–the Red Sox–I told them I would go to Cape-Cod and work out there, and they could evaluate me there and decide whether or
not they wanted to sign me. So I went to Cape-Cod, and I had a really good summer
hitting, and I also pitched, but then by the end of the summer they just decided
that that I’d make a better impact in the outfield, so that was
when the decision was made that I was gonna be an outfielder.
How was the transition from pitcher to outfielder? If you’re transitioning from center to right field or shortstop to third base, it’s probably not as hard, but that seems like a really drastic transition.
I did both in college (Duke), so I split my time between the
outfield and pitching, and I think the only adjustment was getting used to
playing everyday, [and] only focusing on one position, the
transition was pretty good because it was a lot easier on my body only doing
What do you think you got out of your experience in college, and how did it help you for this stage?
I definitely feel like college prepared me really well for
pro ball. In college I had a lot of responsibility on and off the field, and
handling the academic aspect of college on top of baseball I think really made
it easier when I made the transition to pro-ball just to focus on just hitting
and playing the outfield.
What are the differences between each outfield position skill wise–whether it be mentally or physically?
I think [in] right field, you’re supposed to have a little bit of a
stronger arm, and maybe cover a little bit more ground, but I think that for
me, it’s going to be pretty important that I’m able to play both [positions] and play both well,
so hopefully I’ll just keep working out at both positions.
What was your biggest challenge last year in Salem?
I just got off to a tough start: the first
month I really struggled. After the first month, I just felt like I took a lot of
pressure off myself to do well, and I started doing a lot better. Just
overcoming a bad start was probably the most challenging thing.
What do you attribute the bad start to? Was it putting the pressure on yourself, or did it have to do with the pitching too?
It was more just putting pressure on myself. I just tried to
do too much just to try and show everyone that I belong on the team. That was
really it. After that first month I felt fine, and I did a lot better.
Because you used to be a pitcher, do you think you kind of have an advantage now that you’re more of a hitter just because you are more aware of the counts?
Not really. I would like to say yeah, but not really. I don’t
feel like I’m good at guessing what is coming anyway. I don’t really think too much
along with the pitcher–that’s just not my style of hitting, but I wish it really
helped me more.
If you were pitching against yourself, what weaknesses would you take advantage of?
If I were pitching against myself id probably get a hit
Obviously the pitching gets more sophisticated at each level. What are the little things you have noticed as you have transitioned?
It definitely gets challenging as you move up, but it’s the
same game no matter what level youre playing at. You can
control and have good at bats no matter where you are. Yeah, it gets tougher, but
you just have to remember that it’s the same game; theyre not inventing new
pitches, so you just have to go up there and hit, and hopefully things workout.
What do you think fans overlook or take for granted when it comes to baseball?
I don’t know if people realize how hard it is playing
everyday for seven to eight months straight, and sometimes you don’t feel physically well,
and I don’t think people understand that.
What is the biggest thing you’re working on this spring?
Just to have a clear mind and [to] enjoy everyday. I’m just
trying to have fun.
You have been called up a couple of times to the big league club. What do you take from that experience?
It has been a really valuable experience. You can learn a lot
just by listening and watching the way that the players go about their business,
and it has been a really valuable experience for me just to see what that level
What has been the bright spot of your career so far? Do you have a favorite memory?
I have really just enjoyed playing for the Red Sox, and this
organization. It has been a lot of fun… I don’t know if I have memory, but I’m really
fortunate to be in the Red Sox organization.