When I first heard of Mark Hamburger in 2013, he was pitching for the St. Paul Saints at now-defunct Midway Stadium. Now, the relief pitcher is trying to resurrect his MLB career and has a good shot of pitching out of the Twins’ bullpen this season. Hamburger was banned 50 games for drug abuse and he went in for treatment at Hazelden. Though he has had his fair share of struggles, Hamburger has held his head high this spring.
Back in 2007, Hamburger was an amateur free agent signee of the Twins. During his year-and-a-half stint at rookie ball, Hamburger pitched for two different teams. His stats weren’t impressive, as he went 3-3 with 52 strikeouts and 17 walks. During the 2008 season, Hamburger was traded to Texas in order for Eddie Guardado to make his return to the Twins. Hamburger’s only five MLB appearances were for Texas in 2011, where he went 1-0 with 6 strikeouts. He was suspended two years later, after pitching for three different clubs at the Triple-A level.
Trying to retool his career during his suspension, Hamburger signed on to play independent baseball in 2013 because the suspension was just for the MLB and MiLB. The St. Paul native decided to join his hometown team, the Saints. During his one-year stint with the Saints, Hamburger had a pretty decent season, starting 21 games going 6-8 with 120 strikeouts. After his brief stint in St. Paul, the Twins signed Hamburger again after the 2013 Saints season ended.
Hamburger had to finish his suspension before pitching, but once he pitched, he was decent. Last year, pitching at two levels of the minors, Hamburger had a 3.69 ERA and went 4-5 in 22 games with 54 strikeouts. The Twins invited him to this year’s Spring Training, where Hamburger has appeared in two games so far. He has 4 strikeouts with an ERA of 0.00 in three innings of work. The 27-year-old has a realistic shot of making the team if he continues to pitch well. Hamburger has had one tough journey to fulfill his dream but he is very close now to making it to that ballpark across town!
Written by: Michael L. Sack