All-Star Signing, Saints Re-Sign Power Hitting Tony ThomasST. PAUL, MN March 6, 2017
With one mighty swing of the bat Tony Thomas hit one of the more memorable home runs of the 2017 season, a walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 3 of the American Association Semi-Final Series that gave the St. Paul Saints a two games to one lead. It was a fantastic bookend to what proved to be an All-Star season for the infielder. The Saints re-signed the veteran for the 2017 season.
The 30-year-old hit .296 with 13 home runs and a team leading 65 RBI in 98 games, the most by any player last season. In 375 at bats he scored 63 runs, a team leading 25 doubles, three triples, swiped seven out of 10 bases, had a .368 on base percentage and .483 slugging percentage. Along with the All-Star Game selection, which was played at CHS Field, Thomas’ season was highlighted by an incredible career high, 26-game hitting streak, second highest in franchise history only behind Cory Harris’ 28 game streak in 2003. The hitting streak began on the first day of the season and ran through the Saints first 26 games. Despite the hitting streak coming to an end Thomas continued his streak of reaching base safely, which lasted 37 games. On June 2 he became a part of just the third trio in franchise to hit back-to-back-to-back home runs. With Nate Hanson and Angelo Songco homering before him in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Joplin Thomas capped off the trifecta with a homer of his own. From June 5-15 he set a franchise record and another career high when he had an RBI in 10 straight games.
Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with the best-of-five semi-final series tied at a game apiece and tied at two, Thomas crushed a 1-1 pitch from left-handed reliever Kyle Anderson over the left field wall to send the crowd and team into a frenzy. The walk-off homer gave the Saints a lead in the series, one they would ultimately lose in five games.
Prior to joining the Saints last season Thomas spent 2015 at Double-A for the Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox organizations. Between the three teams he hit .249 with nine home runs and 47 RBI in 94 games. In 329 at bats he scored 38 runs, roped 20 doubles, four triples, had a .307 on base percentage and a .416 slugging percentage. He was named the Eastern League Batter of the Week for the week of July 6-13 with the Erie Sea Wolves (Tigers) going 12-26 with three doubles, a home run and five RBI. The day before the week started Thomas clubbed a grand slam as part of a three hit, four RBI day.
In 2007, during his junior season at Florida State University, Thomas’ draft stock skyrocketed when he was named Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s co-National Player of the Year, along with left-handed pitcher David Price. He was also selected Player of the Year by Rivals.com. Thomas hit .430 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI while stealing 31 of 36 in 62 games. He became the first player in the history of FSU to record 30 doubles, 100 hits and 30 stolen bases in a season. He led all of college baseball in runs, doubles and total bases.
The Cubs selected him in the third round of the June First-Year Player Draft and, after a handful of games in the Arizona League, he was promoted to the Boise Hawks of the Rookie League. He hit .308 with five home runs and 33 RBI in 46 games and finished first in the Northwest League in stolen base percentage (.933), tied for first in triples (8), second in stolen bases (28), third in slugging (.544) and seventh in average. His season was highlighted by a 15-game hitting streak from July 31-August 15 and a four stolen base performance on August 3. Thomas was selected as a Baseball America Short Season All-Star.
Thomas’ incredible 2007 season got him promoted to High-A Daytona in 2008 where he had another solid season and was selected to the Florida State League All-Star Game. He finished the season as the top fielding second baseman in the league with a .989 fielding percentage. The 2008 year began a string of five consecutive seasons that his team would reach the playoffs as the Cubs claimed the FSL title. He led all playoff participants with a .483 average and was tied for first with eight RBI while being named the FSL Championship Series MVP.
In 2009 at Double-A Tennessee Thomas was once again selected as a mid-season All-Star in the Southern League. In just the second game of the season Thomas had his first career two homer game and tied his career high with five RBI. On June 20 he was part of a 5-4-3 triple play while playing second base at home against the Carolina Mudcats.
Thomas’ final season with the Cubs organization, in 2010, was one of his best of his career. He spent the entire season at Tennessee and hit .276 with 11 home runs and 73 RBI while stealing 15 of 17 bags in 116 games. He was selected an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star for the Cubs and finished the season first in fielding percentage among second baseman (.973), tied for second in triples (11) and fourth in slugging (.485). He also reached base safely in 19 consecutive games from June 3-23 and tied for the second longest road hitting streak in the Southern League with 14 from June 3-July 8.
On February 15, 2011 Thomas was traded to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-handed pitcher Robert Coello. He spent most of the season at Triple-Pawtucket. In his very first at bat at Triple-A he hit a grand slam en route to a five RBI game. Two days later he matched the feat with another grand slam, hitting as many grand slams in three days as he had in his entire baseball career dating back to high school.
Thomas won his second championship in 2012 at Triple-A Pawtucket taking home the International Championship. Pawtucket would lose in the Triple-A Championship Game, a one game showdown between the International League and Pacific Coast League, to the Reno Aces.
In 2014 Thomas was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Twins and played the entire season at Double-A New Britain where he hit what would be at the time a career high 12 home runs and was a mid-season All-Star in the Eastern League and an MiLB.com Organization All-Star.
The Saints currently have nine players signed this off-season, four position players and five pitchers.
The Saints open the 2017 season on Thursday, May 18 with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats. For more information contact the Saints at 651-644-6659 or visit saintsbaseball.com.