Saints Return Three More From North Division Championship TeamST. PAUL, MN April 20, 2017
An outfielder with a cannon of an arm, a rookie outfielder who produced when called upon and a catcher that was invaluable on many different fronts. All three were in George Tsamis’ bag of tricks in 2016 and they will all come back in 2017 as Breland Almadova, Brady Burzynski and Maxx Garrett were re-signed.
The 26-year-old Almadova had a solid season with the Saints last season, both at the plate and in the field. He hit .256 with four home runs and 40 RBI in 87 games. In 336 at bats he scored 57 runs, had nine doubles, two triples, stole 29 bases, a .332 on base percentage and a .330 slugging percentage. Playing primarily right field, Almadova led all outfielders in assists with 12. His season was highlighted by an inside the park home run on June 7 at the Texas AirHogs, a straight steal of home on June 29, finishing a home run shy of the cycle on August 11 and then perhaps the most incredible feat on August 12 when he stole second, third and home all in one inning.
Prior to joining the Saints last season Almadova, from Honolulu, Hawaii, spent his entire professional career with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. In 2015 at High-A Visalia he hit .273 with four home runs and 43 RBI in 105 games. In 381 at bats he roped 21 doubles, three triples, stole 25 bases and had a .348 on base percentage and .375 slugging percentage. He finished fifth in the California League in stolen bases and managed to reach base safely in 23 straight games from May 6-June 2. He also had a season high 12 game hitting streak from May 17-30.
Almadova was a 37th round draft pick by the Diamondbacks in 2012 out of the University of Hawaii. In his first season of professional baseball he hit a career high .306 at the Rookie Level for Missoula. His team would go on to win the Pioneer League Championship where he was a major piece to the title. He finished tied for second in the playoffs in RBI (7), third in stolen bases (2) and 10th in batting average (.318).
In 2013 Almadova spent the entire season at Single-A South Bend in the Midwest League where he finished first in the league in chances (288) and putouts (272) by a centerfielder. South Bend made the championship series of the Midwest League.
His defense was rewarded in 2014 when, after playing just a half season in the Midwest League before being called up to the California League, Almadova was awarded with an MiLB Gold Glove award for outfielders in the Midwest League. He committed just one error in 247 chances. That season between South Bend and Visalia he set a career high with 35 stolen bases in 132 games. His 24 doubles and 57 RBI were also career highs and he tied his 2013 mark with seven home runs. Almadova reached base safely in 24 straight games in South Bend from May 29-June 6. Upon his promotion to the California League Almadova hit safely in 15 straight, a career high, from August 3-21. Visalia would reach the championship series of the California League.
Almadova was a two sport star at Iolani High School in Honolulu where he excelled at football and baseball. In his senior season Almadova was named the Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year and Louisville Slugger Player of the Year in baseball. In 2008, as a junior, he was named to the ILH first team and All-State Second team in football. His football team were back-to-back state champs in 2007 and 2008.
The 23-year-old Burzynski was a pure rookie last season and the UW-Stout graduate did not disappoint. He hit .271 with 12 RBI in 44 games. In 144 at bats he smacked six doubles, stole seven bases, had a .371 on base percentage and a .313 slugging percentage. In his first professional game on May 21 he collected his first professional hit and RBI with a run scoring double. One of the most memorable nights of his rookie campaign was a five hit game on July 25 vs. Sioux City.
Burzynski was a two-time All-WIAC at UW Stout and is the school’s all-time leader in stolen bases. During his senior season he hit .343 with two home runs and 14 RBI while swiping 11 bags. During his four years with the Blue Devils he hit .324 with nine home runs, 65 RBI and 48 stolen bases. He was selected the 2016 MVP of the Eau Claire Express of the Northwoods League.
At Memorial High School in Eau Claire he played football, hockey and baseball and was named All-Conference three times and was a three-time sectional champion in hockey.
The 27-year-old Garrett hit .193 with two home runs and nine RBI in 19 games for the Saints last season. In 57 at bats he had one double, a .299 on base percentage and a .316 slugging percentage. He led all four catchers with a 36% success rate throwing out base runners.
Garrett spent the first three seasons of his professional career with the Washington Wild Things, of the Frontier League, from 2013-15. His best overall season came in 2014 when he hit .217 with eight home runs and had 18 RBI in 57 games.
The Saints have signed 16 players this off-season, nine position players and seven pitchers.
The 2017 season begins on Thursday, May 18 at CHS Field with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.