The Cardinals 2005 Minor League Player of the Year was hitting just .220 this season with just one home run and 18 RBI, a far cry from the .284 with 20 home runs and 97 RBI from him last season.
Considered by many as the best defensive infielder in the system, Hanson struggled with his defense and footwork in 2005 and it continued into this season. Last season he had a good reason because he was recovering from a broken ankle from the previous season, but now you have to wonder about his future as a major league everyday player.
Travis played in the Arizona Fall League and for Team USA last season. In addition, Hanson, was named to the 2005 Topps/Minor League Baseball Double-A All-Star Team, which recognizes players with the best performances at each minor league level, but so far this season, he doesn't look like the same player or top prospect.
He is projected by some, to be a below average bat for a corner player. I'm not sure I agree with that, but, I still think second base is his best position. Baseball HQ, recently projected him as a potential major league utility infielder and could arrive in the majors by 2007.
Ranked by Baseball America as the Cardinals #7 Prospect in their 2006 rankings, Hanson led the Texas League last season with 36 errors and I've seen him make a great, Scott Rolen type play one minute and then turn around and make an error on what should be a routine play, the next minute.
The Birdhouse, at www.thestlcardinals.com, had Hanson ranked 9th on their January 2006, Top 40 Prospect list.
Brian Walton, the Managing Editor and Senior Writer at the Birdhouse thinks Hanson might be better suited to play at second base.
"Hanson put a severely broken leg behind him to register such a solid 2005 season that he was sent to the Arizona Fall League, named to Team USA and added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster. However, with third base locked up for a long time in St. Louis, I wonder if Hanson can mentally deal with playing second base again. (He was injured on defense.) Surely, Hanson would project better at second as compared to third for the Cardinals or any other team for that matter."
The Cardinals will likely continue to try Hanson at other positions, to include second, first and left field. Initially Springfield Cardinals manager, Chris Maloney said, "We'll put him at third base and get him right. Sometimes guys struggle and we're just looking to get him back here and get him going forward again."
Hanson's offensive numbers last season earned him a promotion to Triple-A Memphis to start this season and he was added to the Cardinals 40 man-roster after the season last year.
Hanson returns to Springfield where he had his best pro season ever, in 2005. The Cardinals hope this trip back down to Double-A ball will help keep the promising youngster from going into a deeper slump this season.
Travis will need to return to the form that he had last season, to earn the coveted organization, Minor League Player of the Year Award, if he hopes to break into the Majors with St. Louis.
Hanson is expected to join the Double-A team in San Antonio today, in time for tonight's game.