First Round Signing, Infielder Jake Hager Joins Saints for 2018
ST. PAUL, MN - It's not often a former first round draft pick falls into your lap, but St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis snagged one, more than three months before the season starts. Infielder Jake Hager, a Triple-A infielder the last two seasons, signed with the Saints on Thursday to bolster what is shaping up to be a solid infield.
The 24-year-old Hager spent all of last season at Triple-A Durham in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. He hit .229 with four home runs and 26 RBI in 73 games. In 271 at bats he scored 29 runs, had nine doubles, three triples, a .275 on base percentage and a .328 slugging percentage. The Bulls not only claimed the International League Championship, but defeated the Pacific Coast League's Memphis Redbirds for the Triple-A National Championship. Hager's season was highlighted by a career high six RBI game on May 17 at Charlotte.
Hager was the Gatorade Nevada National Player of the Year for 2010-11 which led to him going in the first round (32nd overall) to the Tampa Bay Rays out of Sierra Vista High School. He was assigned to the Low-A Princeton Rays and hit .269 with four home runs and 17 RBI in just 47 games. The 18-year-old had a 10-game hitting streak from July 16-28 and then topped that with a career high 11-game hitting streak from August 9-21. He also scored a run in a career high nine straight games from July 18-28. He closed the season hitting safely in 19 of 20 games and finished with the fewest strikeouts per total plate appearance, 7.85, in the Appalachian League.
In 2012 Hager spent the entire season with the Single-A Bowling Green Hot Rods where he had career highs in batting average, .281, home runs, 10, and RBI, 72. Hager reached base safely in 22 consecutive home games from June 1-July 23 and had his first career five-hit game on June 29 vs. Lansing where he also collected a career high three doubles and drove in five. He tied his career high with an 11-game hitting streak from July 9-25. His team made the playoffs, but lost two-games-to-none to Lake County in the first round of the Midwest League Playoffs.
Hager continued to move through the Rays Minor League system spending all of 2013 at High-A Charlotte where he was selected as a Mid-Season All-Star. Overall, he hit .258 with 33 RBI in 113 games with the Stone Crabs. Charlotte reached the playoffs and made it to the Florida State League Championship Series, but lost three-games-to-one to the Daytona Cubs.
In 2014 Hager began the season as the 17th rated prospect in the Rays organization by MLB.com. He spent the entire season at Double-A Montgomery and hit .271 with four home runs and 47 RBI in 114 games. He led the league in most double plays turned by a shortstop with 74.
Hager missed all of 2015 with a knee injury, but came back in 2016 and was the 25th rated prospect in the Rays organization by MLB.com. He split time between Montgomery and Charlotte and hit .233 with two home runs and 21 RBI in 114 games between the two stops. Hager collected his second career five-hit game on April 26 with Montgomery against Jacksonville.
The Saints have signed two free agents this off-season, agreeing to terms with infielder Noah Perio earlier this week.
The Saints begin the 2018 season on the road against the Gary SouthShore Railcats on Friday, May 18. The Saints first game at home is on Monday, May 21 against the newest member of the American Association, the Chicago Dogs, at 3:05 p.m.
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American Association Stories from February 8, 2018
- First Round Signing, Infielder Jake Hager Joins Saints for 2018 - St. Paul Saints
- Olympics? Join Us for the Office Olympics - Gary SouthShore Railcats
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