LAWRENCEVILLE - With David Price's promotion from Durham to Tampa Bay, Tommy Hanson is unquestionably the top pitching prospect in the minors.
Now the lingering question is how much longer he'll stay in Class AAA with the Gwinnett Braves.
Hanson, who will start tonight against Indianapolis, has been extra dominant in his past two starts, allowing just three hits and no runs in 13 innings. He has struck out 16 and walked two.
The 6-foot-6 right-hander is just 3-3 with the G-Braves, but the rest of his stat line tells just how much International League hitters have been overmatched.
Hanson, 22, has a 1.51 ERA and leads the league with 73 strikeouts to 15 walks in 541/3 innings.
"Tommy has gotten progressively better each start," G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said. "He's been good all season, but now he has all four pitches working for him, which is a big plus."
"My changeup has been good the last couple of games," Hanson said in agreement. "Right now I have all of my pitches working, which is a good feeling."
It has been IL hitters who haven't felt so good trying to hit Hanson. He allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings at Lehigh Valley and then just one in six scoreless innings against Toledo.
Those starts came after Kris Medlen - his roommate and close friend - was promoted to Atlanta instead of him.
"I'm sure it must have been a little difficult, but I think Tommy has used it as extra motivation in a good way," Brundage said. "He's been great these last two times out."
Medlen, who was 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA for Gwinnett, struggled in his first start for Atlanta, but will get another shot tonight in San Francisco.
Hanson will get to the watch that game on TV after his outing, rooting hard for his buddy. Medlen's long-term future is likely in the Atlanta bullpen, while Hanson will eventually be an anchor for the rotation.
Hanson's arrival date in Atlanta will likely be determined after the Braves know the status of Tom Glavine, who is trying to come back from elbow and shoulder surgery at age 43.
Glavine, a future Hall of Famer with 305 career victories, pitched three inning for the G-Braves on Saturday and will pitch again Thursday in the series finale against Indianapolis. Another rehab outing is likely at Class A Rome on June 2.
Hanson, meanwhile, will continue to build his already impressive minor league resume.
The only hit Hanson gave up to Toledo on Thursday came on a first-inning comebacker that struck him on the right calf.
"It left an ugly bruise," Hanson said, pointing to the back of his leg. "It still hurts a little, but nothing to keep me from pitching."
This is no time for Hanson to take time off. He may be in the majors soon.