First Official Signing, Big Bopper Gac Ready To Attack CHS FieldST. PAUL, MN November 24, 2014
FIRST OFFICIAL SIGNING, BIG BOPPER GAC READY TO ATTACK CHS FIELD
ST. PAUL, MN (November 24, 2014) – He will be the answer to a trivia question. Which player signed the first contract to play for the St. Paul Saints at CHS Field? The answer: Perhaps the most menacing and dangerous hitter in the American Association over the last two seasons, Ian Gac.
The 29-year-old right-handed Gac is as close to a Triple Crown threat the American Association has seen. Last season he hit .349 with 27 homers and 77 RBI in 83 games for the Lincoln Saltdogs. In 321 at bats he scored 63 runs, smashed 25 doubles, had a .416 on base percentage and slugged .679 for an otherworldly 1.095 OPS. He led the league in long balls and slugging percentage, was second in total bases (218), tied for second in extra base hits (52), fourth in RBI and tied for seventh in batting average. He was a mid-season and Post-Season All-Star, his seventh and eighth All-Star nods in 12 seasons.
Gac was a Post-Season All-Star in 2007 (Hawaiian Winter Baseball), 2008 (Midwest League) and 2011 (Carolina League) and a Mid-Season All-Star in 2008 (Midwest League), 2010 (South Atlantic League) and 2011 (Carolina League). He was also named a 2010 and 2011 MiLB.com Organization All-Star for the Chicago White Sox.
The Saints are no stranger to Gac as his walk-off homer against them, at Haymarket Park on August 24 of this season, was his 23rd of the season, a new Saltdogs franchise record. That home run capped off an incredible week for Gac who would win the Pointstreak American Association Player of the Week. He would also win it the following week, the final week of the season, becoming the only player in the league to accomplish the back-to-back feat. His three Player of the Week honors (he also received the honor on June 1) were also tops in the league.
Gac’s only other season in the American Association was in 2013 when, despite missing 40 games due to a broken hand, still hit .319 with 18 homers and 63 RBI with the Saltdogs in 60 games.
“We are so excited to have Ian with us,” said Saints manager George Tsamis. “He is as dangerous a hitter as you will find. Year after year he has put up some big numbers. It is really nice to have his big bat in our lineup.”
In 2003 Gac was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 26th round of the June First Year Player Draft out of Edmonds-Woodway (WA) High School as a 17-year-old. He showed a steady increase in power and has never hit fewer than 16 home runs in any season since 2006. In all, Gac has slugged 215 homers during his 12 seasons.
The power numbers really took off in 2008 when he split time between Single-A Clinton in the Midwest League (67 games) and High-A Bakersfield in the California League (63 games) as he hit .284 with 32 home runs and a career high 109 RBI with an .881 OPS. That season began a string of four straight 20+ home run seasons.
After being released by the Rangers following the 2009 season he was signed by the Chicago White Sox organization. After a solid season in 2010 at Single-A Kannapolis, where he finished third in the league with 20 homers and fourth with 90 RBI, Gac took the Carolina League by storm in 2011. He was named the League’s MVP while he hit .279 with a career high 33 homers and 96 RBI in 140 games for the Winston-Salem Dash. The 33 homers were second most in all of minor league baseball that season only behind Bryan LaHair (Triple-A Iowa), who hit 38 and has played three seasons in the Majors. Gac outhomered two future Major Leaguers who had 30 or more homers that season, Matt Adams (32 homers, Triple-A Springfield) and Paul Goldschmidt (30 homers, Double-A Mobile).
After nine seasons in professional baseball Gac finally made it past Single-A when he signed with the Atlanta Braves in 2012 and spent the season at Double-A Mississippi hitting .247 with seven homers and 35 RBI in 75 games.
The Saints will open CHS Field on Thursday evening May 21 at 7:05 p.m. against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.