Mark Hamburger, the American Association’s Pitcher of the Week, is likely a familiar name to Twin Cities baseball fans.
Hamburger grew up Shoreview, played college ball at Mesabi Range Community College, was signed by the Twins organization, had a stint with the Saints, returned to the Twins, and is now back in St. Paul re-establishing himself as one of the club’s best pitchers.
The 29-year-old righthander tossed his first complete game of the season last Sunday. He gave up just one run on six hits and struck out six to improve to 3-0. Five days earlier, he gave up three runs on six hits and struck out six in 7.2 innings for the win.
Hamburger owns a 1.90 ERA, 17 strikeouts and six walks through 23.2 innings. Opponents are hitting just .179 against him. He is scheduled to make his fourth start of the season Friday night at Laredo.
Hamburger re-signed with the Saints after his second chance with the Twins organization ended last summer. We’ve documented his redemption story that started at an open tryout at the Metrodome and peaked in 2011 when he made his major league debut with the Texas Rangers.
The story shifted in 2012 when his pot addiction started to take over his life. In February 2013, he failed a second drug test and was required to serve a 50-game suspension.
Hamburger pursued treatment for his addiction and cleaned up before returning to baseball with the Saints later that year. He became the team’s top pitcher with 3.28 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 21 starts.
He began the season in Class AAA as a starter, but then shifted to the bullpen. He finished the season with a 4-2 record, 3.31 ERA, had 63 strikeouts and 22 walks in 68 innings pitched.
Hamburger, now in his 10th professional season, is off to a quick start with the goal of proving to other big league organizations he can still pitch at the highest level. In the meantime, he has proven to be comfortable pitching close to home.