Gift That Keeps On Giving, Saints Re-Sign Former Gopher, Twins Prospect, Nate HansonST. PAUL, MN December 21, 2016
Just in time for the charitable time of year, St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis is giving a present to fans that was very productive a year ago. Former Minnesota Gopher and Minnesota Twins prospect, third baseman Nate Hanson, who set the American Association record for fielding percentage among third baseman and hit over .300, will be back to patrol the hot corner in 2017.
The 29-year-old Hanson hit .304 with 12 home runs and 63 RBI in 84 games last season. In 322 at bats he scored 63 runs, roped 22 doubles, had a .377 on base percentage and a .484 slugging percentage. He struck out just 28 times, the fourth fewest among players who played in at least half his team’s games. On the defensive side he committed just seven errors in 216 chances, a .968 fielding percentage, surpassing the league record of .967 set by Wichita’s Michael Thompson in 2009. He continued his torrid pace in the playoffs going 10-18 with a home run and three RBI in five games.
His season was highlighted by a number of memorable moments and it started on June 2 in game two of a double header at Joplin when he hit the first of back-to-back-to-back home runs (Angelo Songco and Tony Thomas hit the other two). On June 10 at Sioux Falls he set his career high with five RBI in a game, a feat he would equal on two more occasions during the season. On July 20 he hit two home runs, just the second time in his career he accomplished the feat. After the birth of his son in early August Hanson went on a ridiculous tear. He hit .404 with six home runs and 24 RBI in his final 25 games of the season including homering in his first three games back and producing back-to-back five RBI games in the first two games.
Hanson played in 19 games for the Saints in 2015 and hit .275 with a home run and six RBI. In 69 at bats he scored 16 runs, smacked seven doubles, had a .351 on base percentage and a .420 slugging percentage. He committed just one error in 56 total chances. Hanson began the season with Triple-A Rochester in the Twins system and hit .262 with four RBI in 17 games.
Hanson was selected in the 28th round by the Minnesota Twins in 2008 after three seasons at the University of Minnesota where he was a two-time All-Big Ten selection at third base. The 28-year-old Chanhassen native spent parts of eight seasons in the Twins organization.
Hanson had a breakout season in his second year with the Golden Gophers, posting a .338 average and .921 OPS to go along with 10 home runs and 51 RBI to earn First-Team All-Big Ten honors at third base as a sophomore. As a junior, Hanson hit .359 with a .966 OPS, 22 doubles, six homers, and 32 RBI to pick up his second First-Team honors and become just the third Gopher third baseman in school history to earn the honor in back-to-back years. He was the first third baseman in the Big Ten to accomplish the feat since 2003. Hanson finished his junior year tied for the Big Ten lead with 22 doubles and tied for third with 118 total bases. His 45 hits in Big Ten play were the second most in a single-season in school history and his 22 doubles were the eighth most.
After being selected in the 28th round by the Twins following his junior season, Hanson elected to sign with his hometown club and began his career at rookie ball where he helped the Elizabethtown Twins win the 2008 Appalachian League title. He posted a .215 average with six doubles, a pair of home runs, and eight RBI in 29 games.
Hanson’s most impressive power numbers in the Twins system came in 2010 when he slugged, at the time, a career high 11 home runs in the power sapping Florida State League. He was just one of 14 batters to post double digit homers that season and ranked ninth in the league in homers to go along with a .254 average in 110 games.
A career .254 hitter in the Twins system, Hanson got his first taste of Double-A when he was promoted to the New Britain Rock Cats in 2011. He posted, at the time, a career high .276 average after returning to New Britain in 2012 while adding 16 doubles, seven home runs, and driving in 50 runs before being promoted to Triple-A the next season.
Hanson split his time between the corner infield positions in his professional career, boasting a .994 fielding percentage in 296 games at first and a .946 mark in 212 games at the hot corner.
The Saints begin the 2017 season on Thursday, May 18 at CHS Field with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.