Saints Sermon: Infield Set in St. Paul with Signing of Hanson
The signing of Nate Hanson on Monday all but solidified the St. Paul Saints infield for the coming season. The acquisition of OF Michael Burgess on March 4 filled the last starting outfield position, as he joins Willie Argo and Alonzo Harris in what should be one of the very best outfields, both offensively and defensively, in the American Association. The return of Hanson should be the last piece to complete the infield, allowing Manager George Tsamis to focus on his catchers and pitching staff.
Hanson is no stranger to a St. Paul Saints uniform. He joined the team last season after being released from the Minnesota Twins organization and instantly solidified a position that had been in flux all season long. No less than seven players saw time at the hot corner, and Hanson was the perfect solution after he became available. The third baseman played in 19 games for the Saints, hitting .275 with a homer and 6 RBI. He also scored 16 runs, and played exceptionally well at third, making just one error in 56 chances.
Hanson joins five others. Manager George Tsamis had resigned shortstop Sam Maus and it looks like 2B Ryan Cavan, another late edition to the team last season, will return after the school year comes to an end (Ryan works as a teacher).
Three new players have joined the team within the last few weeks, and all come with a quality resume that should really make this a difficult team to play against. Tony Thomas can play second, third, short, and the outfield, and is a former third round pick. He has played nine seasons, reaching AAA for the Red Sox in 2011-2013. Last season, he split time between AA teams for the Phillies, White Sox, and Tigers, finishing with a combined average of .249 with 9 HRs and 47 RBI. He hit double-digits in homeruns in 2013 and 2014 and should be an outstanding bat in the Saints lineup.
Last week came the additions of 1B Brett Harper and infielder Mike Gilmartin. Harper is the son of former Twins catcher Brian Harper, and he comes with a sweet left-handed swing that should be perfect for CHS Field. Playing in Mexico last season, the first baseman clubbed 16 homers in 54 games, and added a .294 batting average.
Gilmartin will be battling for the club’s starting shortstop spot. This will be his eighth season of professional baseball, including the last two in Lincoln. He hit .252 last season with 30 runs scored and 28 RBI. He also has the discipline to hit anywhere in the lineup.
When he is available to return, Cavan should lock down the second base spot. He was a beast for the Kansas City T-Bones last season, hitting .351 with 52 runs in 58 games. The second baseman then opted to retire to prepare for school, but changed his mind and chose to play for the Saints for the final month of the season. Cavan is a professional hitter, who plays solid defense at second.
The additions are a big boost to the team after seeing four key performers from last season depart. First baseman Angelo Songco signed with the Dodgers and shortstop Anthony Phillips signed with the Angels. Dan Kaczrowski decided to retire permanently, and super utility guy Ryan Lashley was dealt to New Jersey of the Can-Am League. These were big blows, but the new players that George Tsamis has brought in have really buoyed the team’s chances of winning the North Division title in the American Association again.
Saints Notes: Coming off one of the greatest seasons in the team’s history, the St. Paul Saints are looking to keep the momentum going in their new ballpark. Single game tickets go on sale for the upcoming season on March 18, as the team looks to eclipse last season’s record setting attendance numbers…For those looking to get a shot at making the team, the Saints will hold open tryouts on May 5. Contact the team directly for more information.