DURHAM, NC – Back in 2008, Mark Hamburger (pictured) was a promising right-handed reliever in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system. He was so promising, in fact, that Minnesota was able to trade Hamburger to the Texas Rangers for reliever Eddie Guardado. The deal was a simple one-for-one exchange, even though Hamburger was pitching at Rookie-Level Elizabethton and Guardado was a 37-year old seasoned veteran. Now, after four years with different organizations, the Twins want the right-hander back. Minnesota purchased Hamburger’s contract from the St. Paul Saints yesterday, the day after the American Association season concluded.
Hamburger had been a reliever throughout his minor league career with four different organizations, but moved to a starting role this season in St. Paul. The 26-year old posted a 3.26 ERA and in 21 starts and 149 innings. Though Hamburger only put together a 6-8 record in 2013, he was often dominant for the Saints. The starter pitched two complete game shutouts this season, both of which were nine-inning performances.
On July 11, Hamburger struck out 11 Grand Prairie hitters and surrendered just six hits to help the Saints squeeze out a 2-0 win on the road. Two starts later, he was tough on the AirHogs again. This time, Hamburger pitched a three-hitter at home in St. Paul, as the Saints went on to win, 4-0. Hamburger also pitched nine strong innings in a pair of Saints losses to Sioux City, though he only gave up minimal earned run totals. On August 9, the Explorers managed just one earned run against Hamburger and on the last day of August, they earned just three runs.
Prior to joining the Saints, Hamburger had climbed the Rangers’ organization, finally landing in the major leagues for five appearances in 2011. The reliever made his big league debut on August 11 against Tampa Bay and pitched a one-two-three ninth inning in a 4-1 loss to the Rays. Hamburger appeared in four more games with Texas that season, earning his first major league win in a relief outing at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He finished the 2011 campaign with a 1-0 record and a 4.50 ERA in eight innings at the major league level.
Hamburger also pitched parts of 2011 and 2012 in Triple-A with the Rangers, San Diego Padres and Houston Astros organizations. In 2011 with Texas’ Pacific Coast League affiliate, Hamburger was 7-4 with a 3.88 ERA. He struck out 48 batters in 62.2 innings and compiled a 1.18 WHIP with the Round Rock Express. The following season, Hamburger bounced between three PCL teams in Round Rock, Oklahoma City (Houston) and Tucscon (San Diego) before moving to the American Association at the start of 2013.
After his stellar performance in the recently-concluded regular season, the team across the river has purchased Hamburger’s contract from St. Paul. With the purchase finalized, Hamburger returns to the Twins’ organization for the first time since he was a 21-year old in rookie ball.
Photo courtesy of Emily Robertson/St. Paul Saints