Travis Hanson a step closer to the majors?

It's a scenario made for Hollywood. A sea of red caps and jerseys emerge from the dust and sand of the small town of Jupiter in on the east coast of Florida. More than 200 professional baseball players, some from a close-by Palm Beach High-A St. Louis Cardinal affiliate team, some from other Single A teams, and some from independent leagues begin to vigorously compete for only 24 open spots on the newly formed Springfield (Missouri) Cardinals Double-A minor league team. Each of them knowing, that a trip to the majors is only two short steps away from the double-A arena.

One of these hopeful prospects is Travis Hanson, an infielder with experience playing with the Cardinals Palm Beach minor league team. One day Hanson was the sixth best prospect of players at Palm Beach--the next he was a man with a busted ankle, suffered from a collision with the shortstop of the opposing team, chauffeuring his fellow players to the game and shuffling them between the hotel and the airport.

Hanson was out for months with the injury that side-lined him, but now he is putting his time in with the other Cardinal farm-club players, hoping to land a spot at second or third base in the jewel of Texas League stadiums--Hammons Field--home of the Springfield Cardinals.

Hanson says he feels he is ready to play. His ability to move from side to side is improving and he has no problems with hitting and throwing.

And the field is wide-open. Only one player, Reid Gorecki, is a sure-thing for the Springfield team. In a recent interview with a local Springfield newspaper, Bruce Manno, director of the player development in St. Louis, told the News-Leader that the 24-year-old Gorecki "will be" Springfield's centerfielder. Playing for Palm Beach last year, Gorecki hit .277 with eight home runs and 47 RBIs and played in the Arizona Fall League in October. He was placed on a Taxi Squad playing only on Wednesdays and Saturdays and wound up hitting .363 and had a .569 batting average in 102 attempts at the plate.

But, what about Hanson who will be competing with the likes of Matt DeMarco, acquired from the Florida, Marlins Triple-A club and Jorge Sequea who played with Triple-a Syracuse last year hitting .266? Manno acknowledged that the St. Louis team has prospects of developing Hanson into a second baseman for the parent club, but the position in Springfield will give the team an excellent opportunity to watch Hanson's progress.

But like the others, Hanson knows that he will have to earn his position on the Springfield Cardinals--the first step to his shot at the majors.

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