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Gene's Blog: More good news, from Z to A

Gene's Blog: More good news, from Z to A

Donning a Pig's Eye jersey, part of another St. Paul Saints promotion, Ryan Zimmerman was sharp in Wednesday's game (Saints' photo)


In the worlds of politics and business, Friday afternoons in the summer are the best time to release bad news. Most people are deep into vacation or weekend mode and not paying as close attention.

For a change, here's some good Friday afternoon news, this time from Summit and Cretin Avenues.

St. Paul Saints rookie pitcher Ryan Zimmerman followed up his June 2 pro debut in Texas with a strong relief performance June 13 at home at CHS Field.

The May 2018 St. Thomas graduate lowered his season earned-run average to 0.93 with 4 2-3 innings of shutout relief in Wednesday's home loss to Fargo-Moorhead. Zimmerman retired 13 in a  row after coming on in the second inning and allowed no runs and one hit with five strkeouts

In his June 2 game against Cleberne, Zimmerman started and pitched five innings. He struck out the first batter he faced and allowed one run, three hits and one walk with no decision in an eventual 3-2 loss in 11 innings.

Zimmerman's St. Thomas teammate Jake Smith signed with the Saints last weekend and has played in one game thus far.

Zimmerman went 6-3 in 10 appearances this spring as a senior with the Tommies. He posted a 3.36 ERA with 75 strikeouts to just 28 walks in 56 innings. In 43 career pitching appearances, the Eden Prairie native had a 3.04 ERA and a 16-8 record, with one save, eight complete games, 203 strikeouts, 74 walks in 181 innings.

In 2017, he had two postseason complete games, including a 7-2 win over No. 2-ranked UW-Whitewater, with a 2.58 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 116.1 innings.


Streak continues

The Zimmerman and Smith signings with St. Paul make it 23 consecutive years that Tommie baseball has at least one alumnus playing or coaching professional minor-league baseball. Ten alone have pitched for the Saints. In 12 of the last 13 seasons, at least one Tommie has been on a Saints' roster.

The streak began in 1996 when Tony Fisher was drafted in the sixth round by the Texas Rangers. Fisher played three seasons in the minors before injuries halted his career.

Three other St. Thomas graduates were drafted and played in MLB organizations:

  • Buzz Hannahan, drafted in the 31st round by the Philadelphia Phillies after his senior year in 1998, advanced all the way to Class AAA during his eight-year run in that organization; 
  • current head coach Chris Olean, drafted in the 17th round by the Milwaukee Brewers after his senior year in 1999, played two seasons with Brewers minors-league teams and also played in 2001 with the St. Paul Saints;
  • Jake Mauer was drafted in 23rd round by the Minnesota Twins after his senior season in 2001, the same year his younger brother Joe was drafted No. 1 overall. Jake played five seasons and reached Class AA before injuries halted his career, but then served as a coach and manager with Twins' minor-league teams from 2006-2017. 

The versatile Hannahan and Mauer each played as many as seven positions at some point during their pro careers.

Olean came within two outs of a perfect game while pitching on the road in Iowa in the Class A Midwest League.

Nearly 20 St. Thomas Baseball alums over the last 23 seasons went on to play professional sports after their UST careers concluded.

That group includes (pitchers unless noted): 

  • OF Matt Faulken (Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks 1999);
  • Brian Whinnery (Saints 2006, 2007, 2008);
  • Lonnie Robinson (Saints 2008, 2009);
  • catcher Zach Goldberg (Saints 2009);
  • Brandon Stone (Saints 2010);
  • Kris Edwards (Saints 2011);
  • Matt Schuld (Saints 2012, 2017);
  • Dylan Thomas (Saints 2013);
  • Tommy Danczyk (Saints 2014);
  • catcher J.D. Dorgan (Joliet/Evansville 2014, 2015, 2016);
  • Eric Veglahn (Saints 2016, 2017)
  • Zimmerman and SS-OF Smith (Saints, 2018)

Two players on the Tommies' 1999 NCAA runner-up team also had minor-league careers in pro hockey: Steve Aronson was a free-agent signee of the Minnesota Wild and played on five pro minor-league teams from 2000-2003, and Ryan Hartung also played on seven teams from 1999-2002.


Academics Shine

St. Thomas can point to another impressive group of student-athletes on its 2017-18 rosters.

The Tommies had two recipients of elite NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships in 2018 -- Kathryn Larson (women's hockey) and Whitney Lloyd (volleyball).

Football's Isaac Seering made the elite CoSDA Academic All-America team last fall, and two Tommie runners are still on the national ballot in track and field. That marks 18 consecutive years that St. Thomas has had at least one CoSIDA Academic All-America.

More than 100 St. Thomas competitors will be honored this school year as Academic All-MIAC honorees, too. They each hold grade-point averages of 3.50 or better; have sophomore, junior or senior status; and have met certain participation or conference placewinning requirements.

Currently, 267 Tommie student-athletes can claim a gpa of 3.50 or better. That list includes 47 with gpas of 3.90 or better. Five have perfect 4.00 slates.

All 20 varsity sports recorded team grade-point averages above 3.00, including 12 above 3.30. Volleyball (3.63) and Women's Track and Field (3.61) lead an impressive list. 


Gene's Blog is a sports column penned by UST sports information director Gene McGivern. Gene is starting his 25th season at St. Thomas and 31st overall in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He blogs periodically on various topics regarding the Tommies, the MIAC and Division III sports. If you have comments or questions, e-mail Gene at