Travis Hanson named Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year

Third baseman Travis Hanson of the Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League (AA) was recently named the St. Louis Cardinals 2005 Minor League Player of the Year. Hanson was also named to the club’s 40-man MLB roster and should report this February to the team’s major league spring training camp in Florida.

Hanson played for the 2001 Aloha Knights afer a successful sophomore campaign at University of Portland. He was part of a summer infield that included current pros Eddie Cornejo of University of Oklahoma at shortstop, John Otness of University of Washington at second, Joe Gerber of Oregon State at first and Chris Stewart of Riverside CC at catcher.

Cornejo plays in the Oakland A’s organization and hit .302 last season for the Stockton Ports (A). Otness was named the Boston Red Sox offensive Player of the Month for May, 2005. John hit .331 with 12 HR and 67 RBI for the Greenville Drive and was named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team. Gerber started the 2005 season in AAA with the San Diego Padres affiliate Portland Beavers before finishing the season hitting 16 home runs in AA at Mobile. Stewart was named to the World Champion Chicago White Sox 40-Man roster after a solid 2005 season at Birmingham (AA) where he hit .286 with 11 HR and 51 RBI.

That summer’s Aloha club went 54-14 and 24-5 in the Pacific International League. Arguably one of the top ten teams in summer collegiate baseball, Hanson’s Knights were unfortunately slighted by the National Baseball Congress and did not earn an at large berth to the 67th NBC World Series. Swinging wood, Hanson accumulated a Knights’ single season record of 227 at bats, led the team in runs scored with 47 and hit .308 with 19 doubles, 3 HR and 37 RBI. He was named second-team All-PIL and returned the following summer for a game before signing with the Cardinals.

Hanson’s road to pro success hasn’t come easy. Lying on the ground in pain 18 months ago with a severely broken leg, Travis Hanson probably didn’t think he would be where he is right now coming off the top performance by a position player in the entire Cardinals minor league system. The team confirmed that when they named Hanson the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year.

After a winter of extensive rehabilitation, Hanson staged an impressive comeback from his major hardship. That ugly collision at second base prematurely ended Hanson’s 2004 season and at least temporarily led him to move from second base to third. But, the position change and rehab didn’t slow the Port Orchard, Washington native one bit.

In 2005, Hanson posted a standout offensive season for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals, hitting .293 with 20 home runs and 97 RBI. The latter was tops in the system. In fact, Hanson set career high numbers in on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, home runs, walks, RBIs and hits in 2005.

The Cards’ ninth-round pick in 2002 was an All-Star in three of his first four seasons, including his selection as a member of the Texas League squad this past season. Last fall, Travis was chosen to play with Team USA, where he hit .333 in the Regional Olympic Qualifying tournament in November. That followed his stint in the by-invitation Arizona Fall League.

In addition, Hanson, 24, was named to the 2005 Topps/Minor League Baseball Double-A All-Star Team, which recognizes players with the best performances at each minor league level. Following the season, Hanson’s performance and potential were recognized when he was added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster.

Baseball America rated Hanson the Cards’ #7 prospect, while BaseballHQ pegged Hanson at #14 in the Cardinals’ system.

While the Cardinals’ Spring Training invitations have not yet been formally issued, Hanson has been told he will attend his first-ever Major League camp starting next month. Once the 2006 regular season begins, Hanson is expected to be the Memphis Redbirds’ (Triple-A) starter at third base.

Past winners of the St. Louis Player of the Year Award include outfielder Reid Gorecki in 2004, first baseman John Gall in both 2002 and 2003 and then-third baseman Albert Pujols in 2000.